December 18, 2017

Christlikeness – The Top Ten Traits According to the New Testament (1)

John Mincy

This is Part One ♦ Part Two

We hear often the fact that we should be Christlike, and many Christian organizations state that Christlikeness is the ultimate goal of discipleship. Did you ever wonder what Christ was like? This study is limited to New Testament references to Christ’s character, those specifically associated with Him in the Scripture and only those that can be communicated to us. Some of His traits are shared only by the Father and the Spirit. My process of coming up with these character traits was to “speed read” through the NT trying to pick out those traits. Then I used my Bible program to search the “searchable” ones. Some traits are difficult to search, thus the necessity of the reading. There are many such traits, so how do you trim down the size of an article on this topic? Though somewhat subjective, I have chosen to count the number of references to each trait and put them in order according to the number of times they appear in the NT. I don’t guarantee the accuracy, but I think it is pretty close. In this article we will look at the top ten, beginning with number ten and working our way to number one. With each trait we first look at a few passages about Jesus and then look at a few verses which show that this should be a part of our character as well (there are many other verses for these traits). This article does not dwell on how we can become Christlike, but is meant to be a guide to what we should be.

Trait number ten is wisdom. “And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works” (Matt 13:54). “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Lk 2:40). “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30). “… in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3). He was wise and we should strive to be so as we see in these verses: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (Eph 5:15); “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col 1:9); “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time (Col 4:5). We have to understand that this kind of wisdom comes only from God and requires a submissive spirit to Him. Someone has said, “Wisdom is seeing things as God sees them.”

Jesus was evangelistic is character trait number nine. “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him” (Lk 8:1). “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk 19:10). For the Christian, “And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mk 1:17). “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor 9:22). “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). We live in a day when more evangelistic tools are available than ever before. A good question for us all, “What am I doing to carry out the great commission?”

Number eight was a surprise to me; Christ was confrontive and often warned people. “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matt 23:13). “And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition” (Mk 7:9). “And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables” (Jn 2:15). Confronting and warning others is hard to do, but it is part of being Christlike! “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (Matt 18:15). “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed” (Gal 2:11). “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thess 3:14).

Number seven, Christ was “others conscious.” “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor 8:9). “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (Jn 17:19). This is the attitude we should have: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil 2:4); “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 Jn 3:16); “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh” (Col 2:1). It is like the old chorus, “Jesus and others and you, what a wonderful way to spell JOY… put yourself last and spell JOY.” We are to love one another (John 13:34), prefer one another (Rom. 12:10), “be of the same mind toward one another” (Rom. 12:16), edify one another (Rom. 14:19), admonish one another (Rom. 15:14), serve one another through love (Gal. 5:13), be kind and forgive one another (Eph. 4:32), comfort one another (1 Thess. 4:18), exhort one another (Heb. 3:13), confess or sins against each other and pray for one another (James 5:16), and to have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7). There is an overlap here with the character trait of love, which we will discuss later.

Number six, Christ was “Word conscious.” He was a teacher of His Father’s word. This may not seem like a character trait, but Jesus was consumed with the conviction that He must get His Father’s word out to others. “And he arose from thence, and cometh into the coasts of Judaea by the farther side of Jordan: and the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont [accustomed], he taught them again” (Mk 10:1). “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me” (Jn 17:8). “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (Jn 17:17). It should be the same for us: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2). “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word” (Acts 4:29). “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

To be continued…

John Mincy holds an MA and PhD from Bob Jones University. He served as a missionary pastor in Singapore and is now pastor emeritus of Heritage Baptist Church in Antioch, California.

Observation for preachers: it might be a good idea to do a thorough topical message on each of these.

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