A new missionary recruit went to Venezuela for the first time. He was struggling with the language and didn't understand a whole lot of what was going on. Intending to visit one of the local churches, he got lost, but eventually got back on track and found the place. Having arrived late, the church was already packed. The only pew with a seat open was the one on the front row.
So as not to make a fool of himself, this recruit decided to pick someone out of the crowd to imitate. He chose to follow the man sitting next to him on the front pew. As they sang, the missionary tried to follow along.
When the man stood up to pray, the missionary recruit stood up too. When the man sat down, he sat down. When the man took the cup and bread for the Lord's Supper, he took the cup and bread. During the preaching, the recruit didn't understand a thing. He just sat there and tried to look just like that man in the front pew.
Then he perceived that the preacher was giving announcements. People clapped, so he looked to see if the man was clapping. He was, and so the recruit clapped too. Then the preacher said
some words that he didn't understand and he saw the man next to him stand up. So he stood up too. Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation. A few people gasped.
He looked around and saw that nobody else was standing, so he sat down.
After the service ended, the preacher stood at the door shaking the hands of those who were leaving. When the missionary recruit stretched out his hand to greet the preacher, the preacher said, in English: "I take it you don't speak Spanish."
The missionary recruit replied: "No, I don't. Is it that obvious?"
"Well, yes," said the preacher, "I announced that the Acosta family had a newborn baby boy and would the proud father please stand up."
There is nothing wrong with imitating godly men and women, but we need to be careful who we imitate, and to what extent. Even the apostle Paul was careful to limit those who sought to follow
him: "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." (1 Cor. 11:1).
Follow the example of those you know who are living godly lives, but be sure to keep one eye on Christ as the ultimate standard. Otherwise, you may find yourself standing when you ought to be