A group of Christian laymen involved in missionary work approached a small village near an Amish settlement. Seeking a possible convert, they confronted an Amish farmer and asked him, “Brother, are you a Christian?” The farmer thought for a moment and then said, “Wait just a few minutes.” He wrote down a list of names on a tablet and handed it to the lay evangelist. “Here is a list of people who know me best. Please ask them if I am a Christian.” (taken from “In Living Faith” by Jimmy Carter). The evidence of faith is fruit. Jesus Himself echoed this same truth when He said, “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). That still applies today. What if someone asked your closest friends if you were a Christian? Would they say ‘yes’ without hesitation? That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, but there must be evidence of Christ-like character in our lives. We all want to be more like Jesus, but that isn’t something we can do in our own strength. Its not like playing ‘Simon Says’ where we just mimic some outward actions. We can’t become like Jesus by trying to be like Jesus!
Becoming more like Him isn’t something that we can produce in our actions. It can only be done as God Himself works inside us to bring about an inner change in attitude and conduct. That’s why Paul calls the attributes of Jesus that God wants to reproduce in us ‘fruit’ (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus says we are branches that hold the fruit which He Himself as the branch produce in us (John 15). Roy Hession says: “Victorious living and effective soul-winning service are not the product of our better selves and hard endeavors, but are simply the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We are not called upon to produce the fruit, but simply to bear it.” (“The Calvary Road” Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 13)
That’s why we can’t be like Jesus by trying to be like Him. Only He can do it in us. What we do in our own strength, the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), are tainted by our sin nature and can never make us like Jesus. There is no way that we on our own can whip up such things as unconditional love, inner joy no matter what, peace despite circumstances, patience when things aren’t moving fast enough, kindness to those who are unkind to us, goodness to those who are intentionally insensitive to us, faithfulness to those who have been disloyal to us, gentleness to those who have been harsh with us or self-control when our emotions are running all over the place.
So if we can’t have these by doing them, how can we get them? We allow God to reproduce them in us as we draw closer to Him. When our intimacy with Jesus grows the fruit just naturally starts to be produced in our lives. When a young child hangs around their parents they start to automatically pick up characteristics of their parents. That happens as we grow in fellowship with Jesus as well. But for us as Christians it even goes beyond that, for the source of these traits is the Holy Spirit Himself inside us producing them as we allow Him full control of our lives. Grow in your relationship with Him and He will grow these in you!
Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
John 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. … This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Can you think of times in your life when you tried to be like Jesus but failed? What about times you just submitted to Him and felt Him flowing through you and reproducing Himself in you?
If there is any sin in your life, any disobedience, any unforgiveness, any failure to do something He wanted you to do, admit (confess) the sin and ask for forgiveness (I John 1:9).
Now ask Him to fill you with His Spirit and to do whatever is necessary to replicate Jesus in your life.
Are you guilty of trying to get those to whom you minister to just act like Jesus instead of leading them to allow God to reproduce Jesus in through them?
Ponder this statement throughout the day, “I can’t be like Jesus by trying to be like Him.” Let it become a part of the basis of your Christian life.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)