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22 December 2007

Living for Other People

Last night I physically tensed up in agitation while running late and driving behind a car sauntering along at about five miles per hour under the speed limit. I was unable to pass or do anything at all about it. In an effort to forget my impatience and to remind myself of what it means to be a Christ-follower in every situation, I asked my wife and kids, "What would Jesus do if He were driving behind this car?" (My wife said, "He'd walk around him.")

Mentally answering the question at the moment I asked it, I came up with more things that Jesus would not do than things that He would do:

- With infinite patience, He would not get mad at the driver
- He would not speed in order to pass the car
- He would not make an obscene gesture (for the record, neither would I)
- He would probably not be running late in the first place

I said the last item out loud. Luke 2:52 says that as He was growing up, "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." This tells us that He was a conscientious person in His actions; surely in how He allocated His time. Based on what we know about Him from the Scriptures, I have a hard time believing that Jesus ran late for anything.

A couple of days ago Leroy made a comment that the actions of inconsiderate people are among his pet peeves. How about inconsiderate Christians?

I am always concerned about how Sunday-clothed church members (from any congregation) handle themselves when they're seated at a table with a bad waiter on Sunday afternoon. I'm concerned about how we act when we're on the receiving end of a cashier's bad day or barely-understandable speech at Wal Mart. I'm concerned with how we present ourselves as Christ-followers in our reactions to our children's bad behavior (and their good behavior). The list is nearly endless; simply apply it to every single situation of life.

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Taken in the context with Jesus' teachings on how not to pray or fast, as well as His words just preceding those in Matthew 5:16 -- that a city on a hill cannot be hidden -- this verse obviously doesn't mean that we're to make a show of the good deeds that we do so that we can be patted on the back by everyone. Rather, it means that, as a matter of course, we are to set a Christ-like example in the things that we say and do on a day-to-day basis.

So... do we live our lives for other people? Well, to some extent, yes. For better or worse, that's one of the things we "signed up for" when we made our decision to follow Christ and asked Him to be Lord of our lives. We did not embrace a system of "don't do this" and "do do this" (I'll avoid being juvenile about that phrase), but we did make a conscious decision to follow Christ. The more entwined our lives become with His, the more second-nature Christ-like actions will become to us.


Leroy said...

A lot of what we should do can be summed up by one remarkably simple phrase..."What Would Jesus Do?".

Feel free to mark down hypocrisy as a pet peeve of mine to.

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