As Christians, we are called to imitate Jesus in all aspects of our life. Asking, “What would Jesus do?” in any given situation, however, may seem abstract or like a mere platitude. In this reflection, I have identified some specific traits of Jesus that can help us imitate him in our own lives.
Jesus demonstrates humility. Throughout his ministry, he associates with people like lepers, tax collectors, and prostitutes who are the outcasts of society. In this humbling of himself to touch those thought to be untouchable, he shows us that even the lowliest are worthy of love. Through his passion, Jesus is humiliated and beaten, which he endures without complaint. His crucifixion is the ultimate humiliation as he is hung exposed and vulnerable for all to see. As followers of his example, we are called to humble ourselves. In God’s eyes, we are no better than anyone else and should not treat others as if they are less worthy than we are. We should be humble enough to do the right thing in any situation regardless of what others may think of us.
Jesus lived and preached a life of poverty. He taught that to truly follow him, we must give up all of our worldly possessions. He required his Apostles to leave their families and possessions to join him in his ministry. Jesus taught that our reward in Heaven will be far greater than any worldly riches. Are we attached to our earthly belongings and focused on obtaining more, or do we keep our gaze fixed on Heaven, letting go of our worldly goods? Do we avoid engaging in unethical business practices for the sake of earning more money? Do we tithe and give money to charities in an effort to care for those less fortunate than us?
Jesus commands us to love our neighbor. He taught that we should love our neighbor as he has loved us. He then demonstrated what love of others means through his actions. He was kind and charitable to all who crossed his path including those who did not like him. He also used parables, like that of the Good Samaritan, to teach us how to love those we might not be inclined to love. His ultimate act of love was his crucifixion so that we would be redeemed. As Christians, we must demonstrate a kind and loving attitude to everyone. It is easy to do this with people we like, but it does not end there. When we are challenged, annoyed, or frustrated by others, we should work even harder to behave in a loving way toward them. Are we prepared to lay down our life for another?
Jesus taught us to pray. He showed us that we must turn to God in all things. From him we learn to praise, give thanks and ask for help. He gave us the Our Father as the standard of our prayer. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was steadfast in prayer as he prepared for his passion, knowing God would give him the strength to endure what lay ahead. Do we approach situations in our own lives with prayer, or do we think we can manage on our own? We are called to pray without ceasing and to turn to God in all things. When we are unsure about what we ought to do, we should pray to God and ask for strength and guidance in living out his will.
Jesus healed the afflicted so that we might have faith. He made the sick well, the blind see, and the lame walk. As he did this, word of his healing abilities traveled and more people flocked to him with the faith that he would help them, too. One woman was so full of faith, she knew that just by touching his clothing, she would be made well. Are we as faithful? Do we know that God will help us with anything in our lives that holds us back from being who he created us to be? Are we laying our brokenness and sickness at his feet with complete faith that he will heal us? If we do things that are not in accordance with Christian morality, we should have faith that we can be healed and do better. He can fix what is broken in us that causes us to sin.
Jesus taught us to obey our Father’s commands. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was full of fear and anxiety over what was to come. He asked his Father to deliver him from his eventual suffering if it be his will. However, it was God’s will that Jesus should suffer for the salvation of our souls and Jesus accepted it in perfect obedience. The Ten Commandments and Jesus’ two new commandments are an outline for God’s will regarding our moral life and how we ought to behave. We are asked to follow all of these commandments. Striving for complete obedience ensures we are living out God’s will for our lives.
Jesus is strong when faced with temptation. After fasting in the desert for 40 days, Jesus is hungry and Satan comes to tempt him to turn stones into bread. Remaining steadfast in his knowledge of God’s word, Jesus tells Satan that his proposition is against God’s will. We will be tempted to do what is wrong because it can bring us temporary gratification. We must remember what God has revealed to us and not waiver in doing what we know is right. We are asked to live in the Spirit and not in the flesh in order to get to Heaven, where our reward will be greater than anything that can tempt us here on earth.
Jesus demonstrates patience with those who want to test him. The Pharisees challenge Jesus and his teachings by asking him questions intended to trip him up. They are more interested in finding fault in what he is saying than in trying to understand it. Jesus does not lose his temper or refuse to engage with them. Rather, he remains calm and patient while answering all that they ask him. There will always be those who challenge Christians and the decisions we make regarding a moral life. When challenged, mocked, regarded as being silly or old fashioned, resist the temptation to become angry. Let us patiently and calmly remain steadfast in Jesus’ teachings as we know them to be true.
Jesus demonstrates profound forgiveness. While he was being crucified, he said, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” At the very height of the evil inflicted upon him, his thoughts were of forgiveness and compassion toward his killers. This must be one of the most difficult things we are asked to do. While others act unjustly toward us, we must strive to forgive them. Just as we are forgiven when we commit sins, we must remember to show others that same forgiveness.
Now that we have examined some specific traits of Jesus’ character, select the one or two traits that you struggle with the most in your own life. Can you find ways to intentionally stretch yourself in those areas so that you can more closely resemble Jesus in the way you live your life.