Jesus calls us to really look at the type of person He was in this world and to set our goal to be as like Him as we can be. Of course, He will be showing us how to get there as we follow Him, but if that goal is to be realized, we will need to judge our progress by studying His life here, what He did, what He preached and how He treated everyone He met. If we are really serious in wanting to be like Him, one place we can look to is Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the spirit, for Jesus exemplified these qualities in His ministry: love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and humility.
Love, first of all, is the major quality that Jesus brought to those He met whether they were crippled or lame, foreigners like the Samaritan woman, tax collectors, or others who were denigrated by the Israelites. He always asked, “What do you want?” In other words, what do you pray for? What do you really need? And then He healed or told them the truth or gave them whatever else they needed as He saw each person–He was loving them as they were. (Mark 10:51)
Joy—so many people walked away full of joy at what He had given them and sometimes, amazement at what He knew about them., The Samaritan woman couldn’t wait to share what Jesus had said about her with everyone at home. She carried His message, too. (John 4:5-30)
Peace—oh, do we long for peace in our lives as we live in this broken world! That peace, which passes all understanding, is a gift that we cannot experience by ourselves, only in His presence. (John 14:27)
Patience—So often Jesus was telling people what they needed to hear, but He waited for them often to really take it in. He also showed such patience with His disciples as they followed Him for two years, trying to absorb the lessons He was teaching them but only with some degree of success. Finally, after the Holy Spirit entered them on Pentecost, they were able to embody His teachings in their hearts and souls and minds and bodies—the totality of who they were.
Goodness—Jesus forgave a woman her sins, and in gratitude she washed His feet with her tears. He respected the people He met regardless of what He knew about them. He taught them the best way to be. He loved them unconditionally like His Father; He blessed them; He forgave them, even the ones who hung Him on a cross to die. (Luke 7:36-50)
Kindness—Jesus treated the woman who was accused of committing adultery with kindness, asking her accusers if there was anyone who had not committed a sin—they walked away. Then Jesus asked her to go and sin no more. No railing at her for what she had done.(John 8:1-11)
Faithfulness—like the disciples and His own loyalty to the Father of us all, Jesus asks us to faithfully follow Him, to adopt the Two Great Commandments (Matthew 22:36-40), to serve God with all that we are, not just to believe in Him. And He showed us how by His own faithfulness in spite of the anger and the danger that followed Him. He even died on the cross, to complete the journey and to demonstrated that death is not the final answer, that there is a new life after any death or loss or change, small or final in our lives.
Gentleness—His preaching wasn’t slamming the people who listened to Him, He was inviting everyone, regardless of what sins they had committed in their lives, to follow Him, to become the person that God had created each of them to be, to be love and all the fruit of the Spirit in this world. He did call out the Pharisees because of the way they put their being seen as religious above the truth about themselves, but He did not rail at them unnecessarily. (Matthew 6:1-8)
Humility—He never lifted Himself above the Father; He was His advocate, always pointing to God’s love and creation and forgiveness that was available to everyone. He wasn’t trying to be powerful above everyone else, only to bring God’s message to the world. Like Jesus, we are to serve God and God’s agenda for us, not to elevate ourselves because of our connection to God. That is the one big lesson of following Jesus. The life we are to live is all about God’s desires, as He is now the center of our lives, we are no longer to be self-centered. Isn’t it amazing that the major thing we have to give up in order to follow Jesus is that we are the center of our lives? No more!
Jesus embodied all that we are to be and to do in our lives. He is our great teacher, as well as totally accompanying us on our journey. Follow Him and you will reach your goal of loving God with all of yourself and your neighbor as you do truly love yourself!
Here is one way to start on this journey in 2023: Look at these steps we can take to undo the unthinking damage we may have done to the descendants of slavery and to other minorities in this country: https://www.websiteplanet.com/blog/support-black-owned-businesses/
Please Note: This is my last blog post after blogging for 15 years about how we lead this life in Christ. Thank you for being my faithful reader. You will be able to access all that I have written at patsaidadams.com/by-the-waters-blog/ you will see a “Search” column with the themes I have written about. Just click on a theme and you will be able to choose any one that you want from that theme. Many blessings for your own journey of following Jesus! Pat Adams