Remember all the “WWJD” merchandise years ago? “What Would Jesus Do?” T-shirts, hats and bracelets were cropping up all over.

One day I mentioned to another believer a bit of a conundrum before me. I said, “I’ve been asking myself what Jesus would do.”

A wise response was given. He said, in effect, “You may want to consider changing the question from ‘What would Jesus do’ to ‘What did Jesus do?’

His point was well taken. We may speculate—incorrectly—what Jesus would do.

We won’t unearth a Bible verse telling us how to handle a specific problem with a specific person, such as: “Ryan, just tell your neighbor to stop using his leaf blower to move his trash into your yard.” Yet we can place ourselves under the teaching, instruction, and authority of God’s Word by asking ourselves what Jesus did do and say; using His perfection as our guide in making important decisions.

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I confess there are times I’d rather speculate what Jesus would do in a situation (and potentially give myself more options) than knowing and applying what Scripture reveals He did and said.

It’s particularly convenient (when desiring to engage in a natural reaction as opposed to one which is Christ-like) to think:  I’m imperfect and don’t possess Jesus’ ability to heal the sick, raise the dead, and perform countless miracles—so using His words and actions for my pattern in life isn’t realistic. If Ryan thought that way, he might feel justified in telling his leaf-blowing neighbor:

“Get a life, dude. I don’t need your trash in my yard!”

Yes, Jesus is God and we are not. We aren’t humanly capable of responding to every situation before us in perfection, as He did. Howeverthrough God’s Word and His gracewe can not only read what Christ said and did, but apply what we learn.

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What did Jesus do?

What did Jesus say?

Much, of course. Consider taking some fresh reads through the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and portions of Acts and Revelationwhere we find what Jesus has said and doneand identify what were His “non-negotiables”.

When we do this, two distinct categories Jesus embodied become clear.

Being aware of theseand making them our own modus operandi—will transform how we view and interface with others and realign our lives with what is most important.

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The first category we see is that Jesus’ words and actions revealed His flawless commitment to honor God the Father.  It was this filter His every word and action flowed through. A short list of His communication on this includes John 6:38; John 10:30; John 12:28; and John 15:10.

The second category Jesus continuously acted under was that He viewed every person and situation before Him through the eyes of eternityfor the purpose of advancing God’s kingdom in the hearts of mortals. Everything He did, said, and asked (including those instances stemming from His righteous anger), served to make known—and available to anyone through faith in Him—the kingdom of God. References of this are found in Luke 4:43; Matthew 4:17; Matthew 19:14; John 3:3; Mark 1:15; Matthew 7:21; and John 3:5.

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 Shouldn’t Christ followers, then, want to operate out of these same categories?

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Let’s see how Ryan, a Christ follower, might view the problem with his inconsiderate, trash-blowing neighbor.

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Ryan could take the high road and ask himself what Jesus would do in the same situation. The first challenge he would face, however, is that Jesus didn’t have a yard (Matthew 8:20). Next, in justice and perfection, Jesus moved from compassionately healing lepers to calling Israel’s religious leaders hypocrites and blind guides—fools!

This potentially leaves Ryan with a confusing array of options.

Yet by humbly and prayerfully placing his problem before God with a desire to operate within the two categories Jesus did, Ryan will quickly realize the situation has very little to do with leaves and trash.

Rather, it has everything to do with his own walk of honoring God and caring about another person’s eternal well-being.

Ryan’s first question under Jesus’ pattern would become: How can I bring honor and glory to God the Father (through this really annoying situation)?

This, my friend, is exactly where the Lord yearns for His followers to land. Notice the perfect match with the “Jesus pattern” question and Christ’s first words of instruction to His disciples regarding prayer:

Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name…’  (Matthew 6:9a).

Our prayers are to be directed to God, not only acknowledging and attesting to His holy name, but that it be kept sacred… by us. This includes our desires and actions.

Quoting from Meyer’s New Testament Commentary:

“God’s name is, no doubt, ‘holy in itself’ (Luther), objectively and absolutely so; but this holiness must be asserted and displayed in the whole being and character of believers (… Augustine), inwardly and outwardly, so that disposition, word, and deed are regulated by the acknowledged perfection of God, and brought into harmony with it.”

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As Ryan earnestly seeks to bring his desires and actions regarding his neighbor under the canopy of honoring his Heavenly Father’s holiness, he is in the right heart condition to view that person and his spiritual needs through Christ’s eyes.

Ryan’s next question would then become, Is my neighbor a part of God’s kingdom, or a prisoner of war held by Satan’s grip in the kingdom of darkness?

This is a crucial question. Jesus’ own miracles, teachings, words of encouragement, comfort, warnings of hell, addressing sin, and His selfless prayers all rose from earth to God’s holy throne room in beautiful, sacrificial offerings of love for all people. He allowed nothing to interfere with Him being the bridge to eternal life for those who put their trust in Him.

Mortals coming to know and have God as their Heavenly Father was more important to Jesus than His temporary separation from God and His own life. Jesus prayed before His crucifixion:

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.” (Luke 22:42-43).

It is this second category in which Jesus operated that He next instructed His disciples regarding prayer!

Pray, then, in this way: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9).

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Ryan’s honest concern as to which spiritual kingdom his neighbor is in will cause him to realize:

  1. The man is either a brother in God’s kingdom who could use some help in deepening his walk with Christ (hmmm… like all believers); or
  2. He is spiritually lost and in need of divine intervention for release from the enemy’s camp and eternal separation from God.

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I invite you to join me in reassessing what categories we’re operating under. At the same time, be encouraged to remember: God does care about the things which trouble us!  And while He often uses challenges and heartaches to conform us more into the image of His Son and usher the lost into His glorious kingdom, He loving invites us to pray and long for His will to be done on earth—just as it is in heaven!

Beginning in the lives of His children.

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Heavenly Father, thank you for the two amazing categories Jesus filtered everything He did and said through. May we follow Him in them.

June

June

People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.

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