PROBABLY we all know people we want to be like: those we have met personally, public figures we admire, examples from history, even fictional characters. We may dress the way they do, borrow their words, copy their mannerisms, or pursue their activities. Perhaps, most of the time, there's nothing wrong in doing this, but at most we are imitators. If we look more deeply at what we admire, however, we may begin to see that it has its roots in spiritual qualities. And these are what we need to emulate. If we take these qualities into our hearts, instead of putting on quirks of behavior, we can express those strengths of character that we long for.
One model I have always admired is the ``virtuous woman'' in Proverbs.1 The Bible's description seems to me to summarize all the good qualities a woman -- or man, for that matter -- should have. The description starts out: ``Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.''
Then Proverbs explains that she can be trusted; she does good; she works willingly; she brings food from afar. She is strong; she helps the poor. She keeps those in her charge equipped; she is loved by those around her. In all this list of the fine qualities she expresses -- and there's much more to it -- there is no indication of her age, size, shape, or color! Her real values are spiritual, which is the only true model for any of us.
If we see the ``virtuous woman'' only in terms of her times, we might see some of her activities as absurd. But if we think of the spiritual qualities that lie behind her activities, we can see that her effort to provide the best in provisions expresses, for example, diligence, a spiritual quality. We can see that she expressed enough love to include beauty and perfection. And we can borrow from her example whatever we can apply to our own lives.
What, then, is a true model? Isn't the best model one that shows us how to demonstrate spiritual qualities in our everyday lives? And only as we recognize the spiritual qualities expressed -- qualities that are reflected from God -- do we have a true model.
The ideal, of course, is Christ Jesus. But we look to Jesus not for his physical appearance or the kind of sandals or linen he probably wore. We look to the Way-shower for the spiritual qualities that enabled him to heal sin and sickness. And when we strive to follow him, it is these qualities we endeavor to practice, to some degree, in our own lives.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, tells us: ``The best spiritual type of Christly method for uplifting human thought and imparting divine Truth, is stationary power, stillness, and strength; and when this spiritual ideal is made our own, it becomes the model for human action.''2
As we look deeper at the qualities we admire and want to emulate, we discover that they are indeed spiritual. Instead of merely imitating these, then, we can take them into our hearts to express them in our own way as more spiritual strength, wisdom, and beauty. And because our models are spiritual, perfect, and permanent, they raise our hopes and expectations, purify our desires, and influence our lives. The more spiritual our aspirations, the healthier and more enriched our lives become. Then we're more than imitatiors. Our lives are literally transformed as we learn to ``be like him.''3
1See Proverbs 31:10-31. 2Retrospection and Introspection, p. 93. 3I John 3:2.
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