Christian character begins with choosing to become a disciple of Jesus Christ!
A while ago, I talked about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and laid out five markers for true discipleship:
- A disciple follows Jesus and walks into His steps.
- A disciple waits on God in prayer.
- A disciple goes with God.
- A disciple talks about God.
- A disciple risks for God.
Yes, that’s what it means, according to me, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
There’s a Scripture that adds more to that, and we find the text in Matthew 16: 24-28,
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” ESV.
Out of the above Scripture, it’s obvious that to be a disciple, one has to deny himself (or herself) and make the choice to take up their cross and follow Jesus.
But, what does this really mean for us?
To deny yourself implies the following two things:
First, be willing to love God more than your own life
Read verse 25,
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ESV.
Jesus once said that a disciple is not greater than the master. He, being our Master, was eventually willing to lay down His own life for the world, why can’t we also do the same?
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15: 13. ESV.
The spiritual principle that comes out of the above Scripture is that love for God and others should be greater than the life we currently have.
Therefore, to deny yourself means you accept the above principle and use it as the guide of your everyday living, and eventually your character.
Second, choose first what benefits your soul
Jesus adds saying,
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Clearly, Jesus is connecting life and soul, based on the above two pieces of our Scripture (Matthew 16).
Why does Jesus make the human soul sound so important?
There are many possible reasons why.
But, for the sake of our article, I will only name a few from the Bible:
- Your soul is priceless. Its value is much greater than anything in the world.
- God created the human soul (Jeremiah 38: 16) and put it in humans to make us alive.
- Your soul is what can make you strong or unsteady (2 Peter 2: 14).
- Your soul can be saved or lost (James 1: 21). In other words, the state of your soul determines whether you are or will be saved or lost in the end.
- Atonement (Leviticus 17: 11), purification and protection happen in the human soul (1 Peter 1: 22).
- Jesus is the Shepherd of souls (1 Peter 2: 25).
- We experience rest from Jesus Christ in our souls (Matthew 11: 29).
Your character, therefore, comes from what happens in our souls. It occurs in our inner being because that’s where transformation takes place.
Our transformed inner being (soul) then shapes how we think, talk, do and conduct ourselves in society.
It’s this Christian character, coming out of our souls, which people, around us see. They eventually see God through our character as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Being a true disciple of Jesus Christ gives us a character that points and leads people to Jesus Christ. This character is a result of the transformation that happens in our souls, which gives us a new way to think, talk, do stuff and how we behave in our communities.