“Be Thou an Example of the Believers”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and his Apostles, Instructor’s Guide (Rel 211–12), (2000), 95–96


Latter-day Saint youth have been reserved for this time so that their spiritual strength and example as believers may combat the forces and doctrines of evil.

Theme Analysis

  • A.

    Paul denounced the evil that was engulfing the Church and called upon the saints to lead exemplary lives.

  • B.

    There are many parallels between Paul’s time and ours.

    1. 1.

      Satan is trying to destroy the Church and the Saints.

    2. 2.

      Many of Paul’s warnings are as current in value as when they were given.

    3. 3.

      There is a “great division” occurring, with the world getting worse and the righteous getting better.

  • C.

    Modern Saints have been especially called to be examples of believers to the world today.

Study Sources

New Testament Reading Assignment

Philippians; 1 Timothy

Course Manual

Chapter 44, “Be Thou an Example of the Believers”

Standard Works

Matthew 24 (see also Inspired Version or Joseph Smith 1): 21-23, 30-32. What events of Paul’s day will also occur in our day?

1 Nephi 14:6, 7. What is it in our day that divides the saved from the damned?

2 Nephi 30:10. What will be the consequences of the “great division” for the righteous?

1 Nephi 22:17-19. Why need not the righteous of our day fear?

1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Why do the Hebrew prophets always review the history of Israel under Moses?

Jacob 2:35; 3:10. What effect did the wicked Nephites have on their children?

D&C 93:38-50. What is needed in families besides examples?

Alma 39:11. What was the effect of this bad example?

Alma 24:21-27. What effect did this supreme act of example have?

1 Peter 2:9-19. Why must the royal priesthood be an example to the nations?

Mosiah 17:2-4. How far-reaching was the good that came from Abinadi’s example of courage and devotion?

1 Peter 2:20-25. Who showed us the civic example we should set?

Basic Library

Discourses, p. 208. What is the promise to an exemplary parent?

Gos. Doc, pp. 283-85. How do children learn to obey their fathers and properly treat their future spouses?

M of F, p. 93. When might the effect of a bad example first been seen?

M of F, pp. 216-17. What was Jesus’ example of how to avoid sin?

A of F, pp. 416-17; 523-24. How have Jesus and Paul shown us a solution to a great problem of our day?

Additional Sources

Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, Introduction, p. XLIII. What effect did Hyrum Smith’s example have on Joseph Smith and John Taylor?

Delbert L. Stapley in CR, Apr. 1969, pp. 44-48. Classic speech on power of righteous example.

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

Perspective and Wisdom (A Discussion)

This presentation could commence with a statement by the instructor concerning the value of perspective. He could explain that wisdom is the ability to see the end of a matter—the final consequence of our actions. The farther we can see, the greater our wisdom can be. The instructor might/then ask questions like the following:

  1. 1.

    Looking into the future, do sins sometimes appear to get smaller like a row of telephone poles, or do they sometimes appear larger as if the law of perspective has been reversed?

  2. 2.

    Do we sometimes think our sins get smaller only to wake up some day and discover them staring at us full-sized right before our eyes?

  3. 3.

    Can we profit by putting ourselves back into Paul’s day and asking ourselves if Paul did the right thing? What do we know about Paul and his enemies now?

  4. 4.

    Do we have living example today that show the result of sin and the result of righteousness? What would it be like to have a hundred-year perspective? Do we have that kind of perspective in the lives of those who are older than we are?

  5. 5.

    Others. (An instructor who will take a few minutes can compose many questions that illustrate the long-range effects of righteousness. He will be wise to list his objectives before going to class. One of these objectives is to encourage his students to see that sometimes it is wiser to choose an honorable death than submission to sin. Sometimes one has to be able to wait for eternal rewards—to visualize himself at the judgment bar or in the celestial kingdom.)

A Common Denominator (A Visual Aid)

The teacher may wish to point out that there are eternal laws. The Ten Commandments are never outdated. The example of Jesus is the common denominator of Christian life in all ages.

At this point, the instructor could explain or illustrate the meaning of common denominator.

How does this idea of Christ as the common denominator of all ages help us see that there is a standard for the saints common to all ages? How do we arrive at this common denominator? (Answer: Through rebirth, or conversion.)

Use of a Timeline (A Visual Aid)

This lesson on perspective and example may be a good place for the instructor to spend a little more time than usual with the dates given in each chapter of the student manual as well as with those given in the New Testament reading assignment. For this lesson the teacher may wish to extend this timeline on the chalkboard to include 7,000 years (see D&C 77:6, 7) and show his students how close we are to times when the rightness of Paul and the rest of the martyrs of his day will be made manifest. Some of the statements of Paul and other New Testament writers concerning future events could be read and related to this chalkboard illustration. Following are a few illustrations:

  1. 1.

    Philippians 1:6, 10. Where on the 7,000-year timeline is the future “day of Jesus Christ”?

  2. 2.

    Philippians 1:19, 20. When will this hope be rewarded?

  3. 3.

    Philippians 3:21. When will this change occur? (Note also the preceding verses which contain the idea of enduring pain now for a future joy.)

  4. 4.

    1 Timothy 2:6. When will this “due time” come?

  5. 5.

    1 Timothy 6:11-16. Where do these victories occur?