By L&T Columnist Gary Damron
This week, it’ll be nine years since my father passed away, but I still find myself thinking every now and then, “I wonder what Dad would have thought of this” or “How would he have reacted to that?”
Years ago, there was a movement, WWJD, complete with bracelets and billboards which asked the question, “What would Jesus do?” Centuries before, Paul gave instructions on how to live like Christ: “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
There are at least four ways we can develop a heart like that of Jesus.
First, we should care about the things which move him. During his years of ministry he looked out on the crowd, knew everything about each one, and still had compassion on them. Sometimes, we’re just part of the crowd, but he understands the things we struggle with.
He also cares about the Church as a groom loves his bride. When we’re tempted to side with the anti-church people, we must remember that Jesus “loved the church and gave himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
Another way to develop a heart like His is to be indifferent to certain things such as politics, popularity and prosperity. Jesus was tempted by Satan to become a world leader, and following the miraculous feeding of the thousands he slipped away after he “perceived that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king” (John 6:15).
As Evangelical Christians, we need to be aware of just causes, we should vote our conscience, but we must avoid what Philip Yancey called “the politics of polarization.” Jesus lived only to impress his Father, and realized that self worth has nothing to do with net worth.
A third indicator of a heart like Jesus is being angry with the things that anger him. He was harsh with the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites. “These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). He was incensed at the money-changers who were creating obstacles to experiencing God. He is “greatly displeased” with those who bring injustice to children, with three Gospel writers recording His promise to those who wrong children, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea” (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2). The heart of Jesus grieves at the abuse of children, particularly in the church.
Finally, the person with a heart like Jesus will sacrifice for the things he sacrificed for. “Whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me’” (Mark 8:34).
Having a heart like Jesus won’t mean an easier life. But the more we reflect his heart, the more satisfaction life holds. We who are in a “dry and desert land” spiritually, going through the motions, can move to a deeper place. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35).
As we read through the Gospels, we can take the four points above, expand them and ask, what does this tell me about Jesus and what does it tell me about my heart?
Finally, we should pray for life, breath, time, energy and a heart like His.