"The Lord is my portion, says my soul."
"I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you."--John 13:15
In contending earnestly for the doctrine of the sacrificial nature of our Lord's atoning death, we may be in great danger of overlooking the fact that the whole life of Christ is constantly presented to us in the Scriptures as the model by which our own is to be molded. We needed a personal embodiment of the religion of the gospel--a perfect, peerless Example. In One only could we find it, even in Him whose gospel it was, and whose life was a pure and living reflection of the doctrines it taught, the precepts it inculcated, and the spirit it breathed. Let us, then, inquire briefly what are the arts of His holy life in which we may regard Him as imitable, and what the features of His character we may presume to transfer with humility and gratitude to ourselves.
We are to follow the example of Christ in His OBEDIENCE. "If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love." Behold the example! As He obeyed His Father with a loving and unreserved obedience, so must His disciples walk in obedience to all His commands, ordinances, and precepts, taking up His cross daily and so following Him.
Lord, let there be no reserves in my obedience to You, as there were none in Your obedience to Your Father; but like Your servant Caleb may I follow You fully, doing the will of God from the heart.
We must be conformed to the HOLINESS and PURITY of Christ. "As He which has called you is holy, so you be holy in all manner of life." "Every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He (Christ) is pure." O Lord, I can only be truly happy as I am truly holy; and I can only be truly holy as I am walking even as You walked.
We must be conformed to the HUMILITY and MEEKNESS of Christ. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me--for I am meek and lowly in heart." O Lord, never was there such a model of humility as Yours. Gladly would I transfer this lovely lineament of Your character and spirit to myself, and in heart and conduct walk humbly with God, and in lowliness and self-abnegation with my fellows.
We are to be conformed to the LOVE of Christ. "A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another, as I have loved you." Oh, how loving was Jesus! He was all love--nothing but love. He loved God supremely; He loved man self-sacrificingly. Love led Him to obey God, love constrained Him to die for us. Lord, mold me to this lovely example of love--that love to You, and love to the saints, and love to sinners may be the all-commanding, all-constraining principle of my life.
We are to follow the example of Christ's FORGIVENESS of injuries. "Forgiving one another, if any man has a quarrel against any--even as Christ forgave you, so also do you."How few there are, even among the followers of Jesus, who present a fair and full reflection of this trait of His character, this prominent fact of His life.
"Lord, let me be found among the few! Give me grace meekly to overlook an injury, silently to suffer a wrong, generously to forgive and forget the unkindness done, the sorrow inflicted, the debt incurred by my fellow-servant, even as You have forgiven and forgotten my transgressions, canceling all my sins and remitting all my debts against You."
Would you resemble Jesus? Then study Him closely, study Him constantly. Study not faint, imperfect copies, but study the Divine-human Original--study Jesus only. The most perfect copy may mislead you, Jesus cannot. Aim to be, not saint-like, but Christ-like; not man-like, but God-like. Less like yourself, more like Jesus. Sir Peter Lely, the great artist, made it a rule never to look at a bad picture, having found by experience that, when ever he did so, his pencil took a hint from it. Lord! prune, chisel, pencil my soul as You will; only make me a perfect copy of YOURSELF!