When you think of a Christian what kind of a person comes
up in your mind?
--A sanctimonious, holier-than-thou person? –a sort of
legalistic person who lives by long lists of “thou shalt’s”
and “thou shalt not’s”, (and most of them without any
Perhaps you picture a Christian as a cold, unfeeling,
judgmental kind of person.
On the other hand, you may think of a Christian as an
emotional, even fanatical person who lives in a strange world of
his or her own.
Sadly, there are people who profess to be Christians who
fit all the above images.
Yet none of these descriptions fit Jesus.
JESUS, OUR EXAMPLE
Christ was the most perfectly balanced human who ever lived.
credit that balance to His being God in human flesh and “…In
Him dwells all the fullness of of the Godhead bodily.”
was “…But was in all points
tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15.
Although Satan and his demons fired their entire arsenal of
fiery darts of temptation at Jesus, there was not one that brought
was loving and compassionate.
“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion
because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having
He loved the loveless and spent countless hours in selfless
ministry on behalf of the needy.
His words were “…the
Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give
His life a ransom for many.”
was committed to doing the will of His heavenly Father.
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will
of Him who sent Me.”
Jesus always did the will of His heavenly Father.
It did not matter what His personal desires were or what
“everybody else” did, or what the non-Biblical pressures of
religious leaders were, He always chose to do the will of the
embraced all mankind in His love.
taught his disciples to love the Lord their God and to love their
He also taught them to love their enemies.
Jesus could teach His disciples to love others because He
In love, He reached out to the common people, the
downtrodden, the sick and afflicted and the worst of sinners.
His love also embraced religious leaders, the wealthy and
sacrificed Himself to enrich others.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was
rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you, through His
poverty might become rich.”
2nd Corinthians 8:9.
Before Jesus came into the world the prophet Isaiah was
given a vision of Him as he worshipped in the Jerusalem temple.
He saw Jesus sitting on a throne lofty and exalted.
His majestic garments filled the temple.
Angels of the highest rank, called Seraphim, hovered above
They had six wings.
With two of their wings they covered their face.
With two of their wings they covered their feet and with
two of their wings they flew.
One Seraphim called out to the others and said "Holy,
Holy, Holy is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is filled with
And the thresholds of the temple trembled and the temple
filled with smoke.
How do we know it was Jesus that Isaiah saw?
Because the apostle John referred to this experience and
wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "These
things Isaiah said, when he saw His glory, and he spoke of
The apostle Paul gives us some idea of the riches, power,
and position Jesus laid aside and the degree to which He made
"Let this mind
be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who
being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal
with God,, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the
form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself
and became obedient to the point of death, even the death on a
And why did He do it?
To make it possible for every human to receive forgiveness
of sins and a spiritual birth into God's family and become
children of God and heirs together with Jesus of all the riches of
Jesus lived generously to enrich others.
Jesus became a powerful attraction to others.
multitudes followed Him---from Galilee and Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and beyond the Jordan."
"When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes
great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat
and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore."
above illustrations of the powerful attraction of the selfless Jesus are multiplied in the gospels.
Calls His Followers To Be Like Him
To Peter, Andrew, James, John, Levi (renamed Matthew), and
Philip we have His recorded invitation, "Follow
It is representative of His call to countless of
others. (Matthew 11:28-30).
The time came when Jesus explained further what this
involved. "Then Jesus
said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'"
Jesus was referring to the most gory form of death the
world has ever seen.
It was the form of
death by which He would pay the redemption price for the
sins of the world.
What could He possibly mean by making this a requirement
for us to be one of His true disciples?
Jesus would shed more light in bits and pieces from time to
time However, it would fall to the apostle Paul to explain this
truth at length in Romans 6.
Jesus was teaching that in order for believers to become
true disciples they must consider themselves dead to the wrong
desires of their fleshly nature…and do so every day (Luke 9:23).
This is necessary to set our new spiritual nature free from
the hindrances of a fleshly nature possessed by self-interest.
In times past it was common to attach a heavy iron ball to
the ankle of prisoners with an iron chain.
The purpose was to rig the prisoner with a hindrance that
would make it virtually impossible for the prisoner to escape to
In the same sense, as long as the wrong desires of our
fleshly nature are dominant it is impossible for our spiritual
nature to live the generous life like Jesus.
To be set totally free we must, by faith, consider our
fleshly self-interest nature dead every day.
Spiritual Nature Grows In Maturity And Generosity
Bible speaks often about spiritual growth:
the truth in love, may grown up in all things into Him, who
Ephesians 4:15. "...As
newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you
may grow thereby."
1st Peter 2:2.
"but grow in grace and knowledge of our LORD and Savior Jesus
With each level of growth the believer lives the generous
life more fully.
believer's first level is self-interest.
We note that Peter referred to new Christians as newborn
At this level believers are motivated mostly by the
self-interest of the fleshly nature.
(See 1st Corinthians 3:1-3)
They tend to look at the church with the idea, "What
are the benefits my family and me get out of the church?
We learned how to be saved and know we're going to heaven.
We sure have learned a lot of the teachings of the Bible
Our kids have learned a lot of spiritual truth and moral
values and they also have some really good activities.
And we all really enjoy the times of worship.
I guess we ought to support the church by our attendance
and offerings enough to keep it from folding up."
motivated by self-interest purposes to keep the church going
because of the benefits they get from it.
Many believers grow up to a higher level which is the
level of spiritual gratitude.
As these believers become aware of all that God has done
for them in the past, all that He is doing for them in the present
and all that He's going to do for them in the future a spirit of
gratitude begins to rise up in their soul.
They begin to think of how God knew all about them before
the foundation of the world…every sinful thought, word and deed
they ever had and ever will have and He still loved them enough to
send His Son to receive their punishment for them on the cross.
They think of how they did not seek God, but God sought
them until they said, "Okay God, I'll receive Jesus as my
They think about the countless blessings that come flowing
into their life every day and how God is not going to hold any of
His resources back in pouring out His blessing on them for all
They begin to understand why the psalmist wrote long ago,
"What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?"
They rise to a higher level in their worship of God, their
ministry to others, their witness to the lost and their giving to
the level of gratitude many Christians rise to the higher level of
delighting to do God's will.
We saw how Jesus was totally committed to doing God's
To David it had been revealed what was in the heart of
Jesus Christ before He ever came into the world, "Then
I said, 'Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written
I delight to do Your will, O My God.'"
Psalm 40:7, 8.
That new born babe in Christ who is still primarily
motivated by the self-interest of the fleshly nature knows nothing
But that believer in whose heart gratitude has done its
work can say, "I can now understand why Jesus found delight
in coming into the world and even dying for our sins on the cross.
He looked beyond the rejection and suffering to all the
unspeakable good that would be accomplished for all
Now I understand that when I do God's will I am making my
contribution to the eternal fulfillment of the glorious purposes
And so this believer begins to study God's word with
delight to find out what God teaches he or she should do.
The believer becomes more sensitive to the leading and the
prompting of the Holy Spirit to do some special thing as he or she
goes through each day.
They delight in giving themselves and their resources to
bring blessing to others because they delight to do God's will.
When believers are at the levels of spiritual gratitude and
delight in doing God's will there are two other facts that begin
to work more powerfully in their lives than ever before.
The first factor is the clarity of their spiritual
begin to see many things with a new clarity.
They see that there are things terribly wrong with this
world and no human or human organization can fix them.
They realize that Christ alone is the answer to the
desperate needs of humanity.
They also see that Christ is at work in His church working
through people like himself or herself to bring salvation and
abundant life to one person at a time.
This person is moved to channel their time, energy and
resources into that church where lives are being touched and
changed for this life and for eternity.
second factor is the love of Christ burning with a new warmth in
No longer do they look at people and decide to like
them or dislike them because they are pleasant or unpleasant to be
They see even the most repelling person as someone Christ
loved and died for and they know that if that person will just
receive Jesus Christ as Savior then Jesus will change them and
mold them into a trophy of His saving grace.
They begin to reach out to all they can with the love of
Where are you today?
Are you still outside of a relationship with Christ?
Are you still a spiritual babe motivated by self-interest?
Are you on
the level of true gratitude for all God has done, is doing,
and will yet do in your life?
Are you on the level of delighting to do God's will with
the factors of clear spiritual vision and the love of Christ
working powerfully in your heart.
Wherever you are I ask you to join me in asking God to
enable us to rise to the next level.
Copyright © 2002 Thomas E
All Scripture quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted