What are some of the marks of a Christ-follower? What do they look like?
I know no one alive who has had the humility that Jesus Christ had. Even those who I know that are some of the most humble people on earth are no match for Jesus’ humility, and if we’re not humble, then God is opposed to us. It is to the humble that God “gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). The word for “opposes” actually means “to range in battle” or “be at war with,” so if you do not humble ourselves and start believing our own stuff, then God is at war with us. The Devil’s pride caused his great fall (Isaiah 14:12-15). The Bible teaches that “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor” (Prov 29:23), echoing what Jesus said: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). Want to know what humility looks like? Look to Christ, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8).
If Jesus Christ, Who is God, can humble Himself and submit Himself to the Father, you know that’s what God desires in us too. In fact, we cannot submit to authority without first having humility, so that’s why we must remain humble if we desire to submit to the will of God. Jesus submitted to the Father’s will and not His own, even though He prayed three times to have the cup removed. Jesus still prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Can we pray in such a way? If we know something very painful is coming up, and pray for it to be removed, but it isn’t, can we still see that God’s will is being done and trust that (Rom 8:28)? Even Jesus Christ said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). We were born and called by God, not to do our own will, but to do the will of God. This means we must submit to God, but we cannot submit to God’s will until we humble ourselves.
Jesus was the greatest picture of self-sacrificial living the world has ever seen, and will ever see. Jesus told His disciples that, “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). More than once, the disciples were trying to figure out who would be the greatest in the kingdom, but Christ reminded them that “those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them” (Mark 10:42), however that’s not the Christian’s approach. While the disciples were deciding, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:1), Jesus rebuked them by saying, “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:2-3). Of course, “turn” means to repent in this context, so they must repent of this pride and arrogance of seeking to be the greatest in the kingdom, and become humble like a little child. Instead of being child-like, they were being childish. They sought others to serve them instead of seeing that it should be the other way around. The greatest of all are not those with the greatest number of servants, but those who serve the greatest number of people.
Jesus reassures us that if they persecuted Him, they will persecute us. Why? Because “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12), however it doesn’t cut just for the sake of hurting, but it cuts in order to heal. A surgeon has to make some painful cuts, but it’s not done just so he or she can just make cuts. Rather, it’s in order that the patient might live. We are not going to fare any better than Jesus did when we tell others they must repent and believe or the wrath of God abides on them (John 3:36b). This will anger some, but this is what Jesus said, not us! Christ reminds us that “A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:20). The late Dr. Adrian Rogers once said that the truth will do one of two things; it will set you free or it will make you really mad. The Word of God can comfort the afflicted but it can also afflict the comfortable. It all depends on where a person’s heart is at. Of course, that’s not going to win us a popularity contest, but if you know the bridge’s out around a blind corner, you’re not going to be shy and say, “Well, that’s none of my business if that car decides to take that road.” If God uses us as a means to bring people to Christ, its worth being persecuted, isn’t it? What a tiny price to pay for a human soul to be saved!?
A Godly Life
When we see people who are living a godly life, it’s not by accident, but by choice. God saves us to bring us into the kingdom, and we’re not where we used to be, but we’re not yet where we need to be. Every believer should be striving to live a life of holiness and a life that pleases God, but of course, we still sin. All of us fall short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23), but the difference is, when we sin, we confess it, we repent of it, and we strive to not fall into it again. Most believers I know can look back at their lives, 5 or 10 years (or more) ago and see how they’ve grown in holiness. I know we’ll never achieve sinless perfection in this life, but we should be sinning less…at least less than we used to sin. If there’s no marked difference in a person’s life after they said they’ve trusted in Christ, it could be that they’re growing more slowly than others, but if there is no change in lifestyle at all, and they’re living like they did before, then the seed of God’s Word fell on thorny ground and was chocked out by the cares of this world.
What do I notice most in a godly person? Often, it’s that irrepressible joy! That broad, infectious smile and that humble spirit. By the way, we can’t take credit for this because the Holy Spirit is the One Who bears fruit in us, because of ourselves, we can do absolutely nothing (John 15:5), and nothing is not a little something. It is only through Christ that we can do anything (Phil 4:13), but anything that is within the will of God. If it is not for His glory, then it is worth nothing, because nothing else matters. As the Psalmist wrote, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness” (Psalm 115:1), so “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name” (Psalm 96:8a), and “Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen” (Psalm 72:19)!
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.