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New Year Resolutions 2
© 01.21.2014 By D. Eric Williams

This article appeared in the January 22 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle

New Year 2014The second commitment I suggest we make this new year is to seek true Christlikeness. Our first step in doing so is to define Christlikeness biblically.

Due to the influence of pop culture and American folk religion there are many Christians who do not understand the character of Jesus Christ. It is not uncommon for people who call themselves followers of Jesus to claim that he is a tolerant fellow, judging no one for any reason. While it is true that we are prohibited from passing condemning judgment, it is equally true that our Lord expects us to judge each and every situation according to the word of God.

For instance, Jesus says, Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 7:15-19). Whether we like it or not, Jesus is commanding his followers to pass judgment concerning the character of other people. How else is a Christian supposed to determine if a preacher is truly a servant of God? It requires judgment to come to a conclusion concerning the practical outcome of a person's life and doctrine. Thus, if we are to grow in Christlikeness we must acquire godly wisdom so we might properly evaluate the life and message of those who claim to be representatives of Christ. This is just one example of how popular culture and American folk religion miss the mark concerning the character of Jesus. Christ is not tolerant of alternate religions, lifestyles or loyalties. Rather, he stands firm for truth and expects those he calls as his people to act the same.

In actuality, we cannot understand the character of the one we are called to imitate unless we have a good knowledge of the Bible, both the old and new testaments. Certainly we should read the Gospels carefully in order to acquaint ourselves with the earthly ministry of Jesus but we will not really understand this ministry apart from a familiarity with the old testament.

We cannot cover every aspect of the topic in this limited space but we must not conclude until we have touched on the activities required of the Christian who desires to grow in Christlikeness. In the first place, every Christian must cultivate a healthy prayer life. He must do more than simply rattle off his list of wants and needs but must also take time for quiet meditation before the Lord.

In addition, the serious Christian should spend daily time in the word of God. Not only must he read the Bible but he should take time to think about it and consider how it applies to his life and arena of responsibility. Finally, the follower of Jesus who wishes to walk even as Jesus walked needs to exercise himself toward godliness. As we saw last week, a Believers ought to, reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise [himself] toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8). In other words, Christians must reject the fallacy of American folk religion and cultivate godly thoughts, words and deeds as they wait upon the Holy Spirit to conform them to the image of Jesus Christ.

Next week: let each of us resolve be worthy of Jesus Christ's favor.


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