1-2Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message)
Have you ever heard the saying, "See one, do one, teach one"? In nursing school, that seemed to be the method they used to help us connect between what we were learning in the books and what we'd actually see, hear, smell, feel, etc., in caring for our patients. For example, we'd listen to lectures on the diseases of the heart. That lecture would be complete with signs and symptoms of irregular heartbeats, swelling in the extremities, and other "signs" that the heart may not be working as well as it should be. In our clinical setting, we'd be asked to take care of patients with "heart conditions" so that we could begin to see what we have learned, recognize how the symptoms manifest, etc. See one, do one - then teach one. The last part of the learning process was being able to interpret what we were observing, teach it back to our classmates, and then we'd finally have a full picture of what we'd learned.
I think that kind of process is what Paul had in mind when he is telling us that we need to watch what God does and then do it. We often don't really take time to "see" what God does - because we aren't really paying attention to the example he sets for us. For some reason, we "like" the good stuff he does - like sending his Son to die for our sins, forgiving us without us having to jump through all kinds of hoops, etc. Yet...we miss the fact that we are to "learn" from what he has done, is doing, and will do in our lives! See one, do one, teach one! God uses the same method! We see his grace, we experience his grace, then we are expected to extend his grace!
How do we learn - we keep company with the one doing the teaching. I think I learned more at the bedside with my instructors than I ever did in the classroom. Just observing how they spoke with the patients, how they handled the examination, what they listened for, where they poked/prodded, etc., gave me a better understanding than all that stuff in those shelves of books I poured through nightly. Oh, don't get me wrong - the book time was invaluable, but it was the actual "walking alongside" my instructor that helped me to "connect the dots". That is how it is with our Christian walk, too. The "book learning" (time in the Word on a consistent basis) is creating a set of understood precepts that will aid us in our walk. Those precepts help us make right choices (right assessments).
In fact, without the right precepts to guide us, our assessment of what is in front of us may be quite wrong! Remember, we learn by also "seeing" the example in action. It is in the extension of God's grace that we come to appreciate the aspects of grace. The concepts of grace are taught in scripture. These are concepts like obtaining favor when our deeds would suggest something entirely unfavorable; being embraced in tender mercies when our attitude would suggest that we can do everything on our own; or being ever ready at our defense when our attentiveness to attack has become more like inattentiveness.
The precepts God lays out in scripture are "foundation" to doing - living by the example we see, hear, and have experienced repeatedly. God's love was not cautious - it was extravagant and without measure. God's love was not selfish - it was extended even when we did not realize our need for it, regardless of how we acted toward it. God's love was no limited - it was before time, will be throughout time, and will be forever in time; there is no end to his love. With that type of example before us, Paul reminds us to take what we learn in the Word, begin to "model" those precepts/principles in the way we have seen it modeled by Jesus, and then become ambassadors of these precepts/principles to others. See one, do one, teach one.
We imitate what we behold - are we "in the presence" of Jesus enough to have him as our primary example? We are guided by what we put into our minds - are we really getting into his Word and allowing it to get into us frequently enough to allow it to change our thinking? We learn by doing - are we applying what it is we are learning? It is in the application that the greatest learning begins to "cement" in our lives. Until I heard that first heart murmur myself, I really did not understand what it sounded like. Now, I can hear the faintest murmur with skill. How did I learn that? I studied the books to know WHERE to listen. I watched the experts to know HOW to listen. I practiced what I was taught until I understood WHAT it was I was listening for. It was a process - as is this thing we call our Christian faith. A process of seeing one, doing one, then teaching one.
We don't stop at seeing and doing - it is in our imitating of Christ that we are teaching the next one to do the same. See Christ in action in your lives! Do what he has done - love extravagantly, extend grace without being asked, and be available to meet the needs of others. Teach Christ's love by your example. In doing so, you are fulfilling the role for which God has created you! See one, do one, teach one!