5 HABITS CHRISTIANS CAN FORM TO BE MORE LIKE CHRIST
There’s a stanza of a Negro spiritual that goes thus:
“Lord, I want to be like Jesus
ina my heart, ina my heart;
Lord, I want to be like Jesus ina my heart.
Ina my heart, ina my heart,
Lord, I want to be like Jesus ina my heart.”
Well, in my heart and everywhere else, I want to be like Jesus, and I imagine that is the longing of every other follower of Christ. But being like Jesus isn’t the easiest thing. Jesus was without sin. The Bible described Him as spotless, “a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19). That is why He was chosen as the atoning sacrifice for our sins that we might be justified before God.
The journey of salvation does not end with accepting the finished work of Christ on the Cross and having his righteousness imputed to us. We are expected to live out what God has done for us by bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), exhibiting the character of Christ.
In this post, we look at some habits we can form that will help us reflect the nature of Christ. The post does not cover all the spiritual disciplines- Biblical practices seen in the earthly life of Jesus that foster spiritual growth, but links to articles that discuss them at the end.
5 Habits Christians Can Form To Be More Like Christ
1. Putting Others First
When we have a policy of considering the needs of others before ours as the Bible admonishes, loving and being kind to them becomes easy for us.
“3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” – (Philippians 2:3-4).
Jesus lived a sacrificial life. He did not prioritise His own safety, comfort, position or life. He laid it all on the line to reconcile us to God.
The world we are living in is a world that promotes self-centredness. People are all about, “my feelings,” “my truth,” “my rights,” etc. Very little regard is given to how the pursuit of all these my this and my that injure and destroy others.
If we are to reflect Christ to a perverted world, we have to shelve self and do whatever we can to help others before tending to ourselves.
This does not mean that we burn ourselves out or punish ourselves to cater for others. The Holy Spirit will guide us on how to balance taking care of others’ needs and self-care to enable us remain useful for as long as it pleases Him.
2. Living a Life of Service
This is related to the foregoing. Our natural selves want to be served and pampered. Jesus, on the other hand, came to serve. He illustrated this by washing the feet of His disciples even though He was their Master and admonishing them to do likewise (John 13).
Furthermore, when the disciples argued about who was the greatest among them, Jesus told them that the greatest among them should be like the youngest (who is expected to do most of the work) and he who rules among them should be the slave of all. He then used Himself as an example- He said He wasn’t among them to be waited on but to serve others (Luke 22: 26-27, Mark 10:42-45).
If we are too full of ourselves and always looking to push work to others, while doing nothing or very little ourselves, we are not following the example of our Master Jesus. Rather than shirking responsibilities and having a do-nothing reputation, let us be the one that comes to mind when there is work to do because of our commitment and earnestness in handling assignments given to us. And let us go beyond that, to fill the gaps when there is work that is neglected but vital.
Sometimes, we have the attitude that except we are paid, we wouldn’t do anything. Pretty soon, even what we are paid for receives scant attention and shoddy treatment.
How much was Jesus paid to travel all over Israel to preach? How much was he paid to teach His followers as diligently as He did? It’s not about payment, it’s about attitude. This can be seen in Jesus’ declaration that, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”- Mark 10: 45
3. Focusing on Heavenly Things
The world is full of temptations and distractions that can pull us away from the Lord if we let them. From media entertainment to social media interactions, hustle for wealth and fame, romance, interpersonal and group obligations, work pressures, you name it. While some of these things are necessary, if we don’t allow our relationship with God and pursuit of heavenly things to set the tone of how we handle them, they will unsettle us and pull us out of His orbit.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” – Colossians 3:1-2.
If we allow ourselves to be sucked into worldly things, they will dominate our thoughts and confuse our values. Then, rather than represent Christ, we’ll be defaming Him, being led by our own conceit and whatever fad the devil is selling at the moment.
4. Being Slow to Speak
One spirit that muddies our witness as Christians and paints us as opposites of our meek Lord and Saviour is the spirit of anger. No matter how we strive to live peaceably, there will be situations and people that will aggravate and infuriate us. It is in those moments of fury that we often say and do things that bring a reproach to the name of our Master, Jesus.
If we can learn to wait things out before speaking, we will save ourselves from a lot of trouble and regret. In Numbers 20:8-12, Moses spoke rash words because the children of Israel provoked him. God said, “Speak to the rock and I will bring water out of it for the people to drink.” Instead, Moses screamed at the people: “Come here, you rebels! Let’s get you water out of this rock!” And he struck the rock. Water did pour forth for the community to drink, but Moses’ neglect of the divine injunction that made it seem as if he had the power to do miracles by himself cost him entry into the Promised Land. (Bible quotations have been paraphrased.)
To be more like Christ, we must learn to tame our tongue.
“We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” – James 3:2
5. Practising the Spiritual Disciplines of Prayer, Bible Study, Fellowship and Evangelism
In addition to living a life of service (stewardship) mentioned earlier, we cannot reflect Christ when we are not engaging in the basic activities that we need to grow our spiritual muscles. We need to pray as the Lord Jesus did for counsel and strength from God to walk the right path (Mark 1:35). We need to feed constantly on God’s word, which is a purifier and light to dispel darkness from our path (John 15:3, 17:17; Psalm 119:9, 11, 105).
We also need interaction with fellow believers as iron sharpens iron and we need to share the gospel, for in so doing we demonstrate the power of God as Jesus did (Proverbs 27:17, Hebrews 10:25, Mark 16:15-18).
We are called to shine as lights in this dark world, to be like our Saviour, thereby convicting the world of its guilt as Noah did by living righteously in the midst of iniquity (Hebrews 11:7). We have the Holy Spirit and God’s abundant grace but we must form the right habits if we are to live out the nature of Jesus and serve as His ambassadors on earth.
Almighty God, help me not only to aspire to be like Jesus, but to discipline myself towards forming the right habits that will cause my life to remind people of Him everyday in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The scriptures used in this post are from the New International Version of the Holy Bible except where otherwise stated.