In this personal letter, I found myself attracted to a piece of general advice John offers to his friend. Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God (11).
Its simplicity is its strength and practicality… do not imitate what is evil but what is good.
So much of learning in life is by imitation, some intentional but much is simply picked up unconsciously by watching those we admire. Many of my parenting habits were imitations of how my dad parented me, picked up by me seemingly by osmosis. I don’t recall deciding to do these things, yet they were ingrained in me by observing my dad.
Likewise imitation is both intentionally and unintentionally learned. Accepting this truth I apply it to John’s advice… do not imitate what is evil but what is good.
There is the intentional aspect. I need to be conscious of the traits I see that I want to emulate, making sure that they are honorable and God-fearing traits. But subtler is paying attention to those whom I watch with admiration. I need to beware that these people are themselves honorable and God-fearing people lest I unconsciously imitate traits of people who are evil.
Who do I watch and admire? Are they honorable and godly? These are the questions the Lord seems to be asking of me as I sit with Him today.
Lord, help me to find worthy people to emulate so that I grow in my living for You. This is my prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.