Men Like Him

In Philippians 2:29 Paul is speaking of Epaphroditus when he says to “hold men like him in high regard.” Now, much is said - and in some places more needs to be said - with regards to having too much confidence in men. But the need for caution doesn’t negate the need for regard for men of this sort. In fact, provided the man is following Christ, he makes a very good role model as Paul says of his own example (1 Cor. 11:1). I have enjoyed many role models in my life; men and women who, like Epaphroditus, ought to be highly regarded. I am thankful to say Gilbert Alexander has been one of those men to me.

I have regarded brother Alexander for his reverence for God and his humility before men. I remember once when we (teenagers) were singing songs at Rustic Youth Camp that we were singing whatever songs came into our heads. We would sing some silly song and then think of a hymn and sing that and then maybe some pop music song. Brother Alexander came to me later and asked me to think about those songs juxtaposed with each other and to consider whether they belonged side by side like we were putting them. Two things strike me as I look back to that conversation. His deep reverence did not care to see common things mixed right in with the worship of God. Worship of God is a holy (separate) thing and ought to be treated as such. But his dignity was aimed at God. He had every right to dress me down as a disrespectful youth who was not the example he ought to be. Instead, he approached me with a respect I did not deserve and quickly won from me the respect he did deserve.

Speaking of his reverence for God, I can scarcely put on a tie for worship that I do not consider his thoughts on that subject. So much has been made of attire for worship. Brother Alexander did not have a complicated view or practice on the subject. He simply believed that one should honor God in every way that one could. After a conversation with him I stopped looking for “what I could get away with wearing” and started looking to what was most fitting for worship of the Almighty. Sometimes that means a tie and sometimes it does not, but it always means taking more thoughtful care than simply running out to the store.

Such reverence was the driving factor in all of his time spent instructing so many saints about music. He certainly did not believe that perfect pitch and rhythm were needed to please God, but he did believe that whatever we presented to God ought to be the best we have to offer. So he sought to bring out the best even when we didn’t know it was within us. And in all of the singing classes I sat through, he always helped us remember that the reason we needed to care about what we were doing was because of Whom it was for.

I regarded him for his parenting. When my wife and I were expecting our first child we went to several older parents who were experiencing the joy of their children walking in truth. Brother and Sister Alexander were among that number and we are still striving to emulate the example they and other godly parents set before us.

Much more fitting tributes can be written to brother Alexander’s memory and I hope they will be. I can simply speak to his impact on my life. Paul says, “be imitators of me, just as I am of Christ.” We don’t point to men as our ultimate standard. But if we see a man who is living a life that points to Christ, then we find that Paul would point our attention to that man. I point your attention to Gilbert Alexander. Hold men like him in high regard.