My dear friend, do not imitate what is bad, but imitate what is good. ~ 3 John 1:11
Have you ever heard the silly words “Monkey see, monkey do”? Maybe you have a friend who always copies you. You say, “Stop it!” and he or she says, “Stop it!” Then you say, “I mean it!” And they answer, “I mean it!” You go out to play and they’re right behind you. You open a book and they want to look at the same book—right now! You could call him or her acopycat…or, someone might say, “Monkey see, monkey do.”
In the verse above, the word “imitate” means to follow or to copy. The verse tells us that we shouldn’t copy the bad things people say or do, but follow good people and try to be more like them. Have you ever said a naughty word that you heard someone else say? Maybe then you got a spanking or were put in “time out.” That’s what can happen when you copy a bad thing. Think of a time when you helped someone before they even asked for help. Do you remember how happy that made your heart feel? That’s what happens when you imitate something good.
Every day you will see what people do. You will hear what people say. Little by little you will learn to know the difference between good and bad.
“No, you can’t go to that movie. There’s too much fighting in it.” “You’ve had enough sweets. No more cookies today.”
“Yes, we’re going to church. Now stop whining and get dressed.”
It might sound like mom and dad are being mean, but they’re helping you learn to choose what is best.
This world has many bad people and lots of yucky stuff. The Bible says, “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18). Even nice people sometimes do bad things. That’s called ‘sin’. So the best plan is to follow God. You can’t see God, so how can you follow him and get to know him better? You can pray. You can watch people who love God. You can put some Bible verses in your heart.
Remember, don’t imitate or copy bad stuff. But when you’re trying to do what is right and good, it’s okay to be a copycat.