WWJD

What would Jesus do? Several years ago this phrase was popularized, reprised from that famous work by Charles Sheldon, In His Steps, published in the late 1890s. In Christian circles the WWJD was everywhere and on everything. The idea was to filter every decision made through the question: "What would Jesus do in this situation?" and then do it.

As I read through the Book of Matthew in my devotions I can't help but be reminded how far from modeling Jesus' example I am. With more examples in hand than I can possibly work through in one blog (brevity being the number one rule of blogging), I will confine myself to one general lesson that arises out of a conversation I had yesterday with a friend.

The Lord never seemed to focus on his own needs. He was totally human, with all the needs common to humanity and all the accompanying temptations. Only on the cross did he ask for something to drink because he was thirsty. Obviously he had to eat and sleep and refresh himself.

My conversation yesterday was about the need to look after oneself in order to look after others. That's logical. My friend quoted the famous words of the Lord when he was asked about the greatest commandments. Jesus said: "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:39, NIV). Our self-esteem does affect our relationships and our ability to be all that God wants us to be.

However, loving ourselves is far different from obsessing over our "issues" so that the first thing we focus on is ourselves and our needs. How many people can think of no other topic of conversation than themselves? How often do our prayer meetings degenerate into a litany of "me" and "mine" and "I"?

What would Jesus do when faced with his "issues"? I think the secret is found in verses such as Matthew 14:13 and Matthew 14:23.

"When Jesus heard what had happened, [the execution of John the Baptist] he withdrew to a solitary place…After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray."

In between these two "retreats" Jesus was pursued by the crowds, healed a bunch of folks, taught for a whole day and fed five thousand people with five loaves and three fish. He could have sent the crowd away so that he could mourn in private and deal with his grief "issues" but he never put himself ahead of others. What he did do was to take time alone to commune with his Father. It was there that he would find strength to lay aside his personal needs in order to meet the needs of others.

I have nothing against the plethora of self-help courses that are offered in our churches. They can be extremely helpful to struggling people. But they can become an end rather than a means to an end. Dealing with our issues is different than obsessing about them and reliving them constantly. If the first course doesn't help us, the second one probably won't either and becomes part of that slippery slope to a continuing obsession with ourselves. There is a time to let go.

If I did what Jesus did when faced with all the issues of life—and we are told that he was tempted in all areas just as we are according to Hebrews 4:14-16—then I would cultivate my intimate communion with God, the Father and not allow my own needs to prevent me from reaching out to help others with theirs.

"What would Jesus do?" is a question that we continually need to ask ourselves. And to respond appropriately to it, we need to know what Jesus did. That means more time spent in communion with God and his Word. His is the best "self-help" book on the market.

Comments

  1. "That means more time spent in communion with God and his Word. His is the best "self-help" book on the market."

    So true! Once again you inspire me!!

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  2. Great thoughts, Linda! I especially am drawn to this phrase: "What he did do was to take time alone to commune with his Father. It was there that he would find strength to lay aside his personal needs in order to meet the needs of others." Thanks for sharing!

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