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It Takes WWJT to Know WWJD

My wife and I are thinking about making some changes to our kitchen—relocating some of the cabinets, changing out a few drawer fronts, creating more counter space, and painting. Things have been going well, but last week we differed on the layout of one of the corners, and as the discussion got a bit more animated, I found myself thinking, "What would Jesus do?" I was pretty sure He'd side with me since we'd both been carpenters, but as my mind quickly scrolled through the Gospels, I couldn't think of a single example of Jesus working with His wife to determine the best layout for a kitchen. I was stuck.


While imitating the ways of Jesus is a recurring theme in the New Testament, the specific phrase 'What Would Jesus Do' first appeared in the best-selling book 'In His Steps' by Rev. Charles Sheldon in 1896. Almost a century later, a youth leader in Michigan, inspired by the book, created a friendship bracelet with the acronym WWJD to encourage her students to consider Jesus' actions in their decisions. Well, it caught on! Since then, the merchandising has expanded to include such things as baseball caps, coffee mugs, jewelry, sweaters, and t-shirts. Today, it's a widely recognized phrase.


While I love the four Gospels, they honestly give few examples of Jesus doing most of the things I do on a daily basis. He was never married, was never a parent, never owned a business or car or house, never voted in an election, and never made financial plans for the future. So I guess we're out of luck if we hope to find chapter and verse to know what Jesus would do.


Or are we?


Doing is much more than a motor skill: it is a choice processed through the mind that leads to an action. Thinking is critical. Jesus multiplied a few loaves and fish to feed over 5,000 people, yet on another occasion sent His disciples into town to buy their own lunch. Why? What was He thinking? He came down hard on a group of religious leaders—calling them a brood of vipers—but later defended an adulterous woman and refused to condemn her. Why? What was He thinking? It was His thinking that directed His actions, which means we need to think like Jesus (WWJT) before we can act like Jesus (WWJD). This is what the Apostle Paul had in mind in His writing of Romans 12:2:


Don't copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new

person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you,

which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT)


The Bible is our primary source for understanding God's thoughts and ways. As we let its truths permeate our minds and replace our natural responses, we find ourselves stepping into a good, pleasing, and perfect way of living and doing—just like Jesus.


So how did Jesus think? What was going on in His mind that directed His actions and responses? There's not enough room in the Library of Congress to detail the depths of His thoughts, but let me suggest just a few that should give us a good start:


He'd think grace and truth: After establishing Jesus as the creator, the first thing the Apostle John says about Jesus is that He was full of grace (John 1:14-18). He wasn't a scorekeeper but willingly gave people more than they deserved. But His grace was always mixed with truth—a divine understanding of right and wrong that shaped His values, choices, and teaching.


He'd think love: Jesus never met a person He didn't love. He saw past the marred exterior to a precious life created in His image, and that filled His thinking and directed His actions.


He'd think doing good for others: He humbled Himself as a servant to pursue and promote the well-being of others (Philippians 2:3-8). Because He was confident in His identity, He could use His divine resources to serve others.    


He'd think forgiveness: Jesus was all about relationships and knew no relationship could survive without forgiveness. No grudge holding. Forgiveness always comes with a price, and it's the forgiver—not the transgressor—who has to pay it. And He did.   


He'd think redemption: He lived knowing that every person in their natural born state would spend eternity apart from Him. This was more than He could bear, so seeking and saving the lost was always at the forefront of His thinking (Luke 19:10).  


Then, of course, there's the Fruit of the Spirit, which lies at the core of who Jesus is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).


We need to be reminded that it's possible to do what Jesus would do—feeling pretty good about ourselves—yet at the same time be very wrong. Engaging in "right" without love, patience, goodness, or kindness—without grace and concern for the good of others—misses the heart of God. Thinking right leads to being right; being right leads to doing right; doing right leads to looking like Jesus.  


So, how's the kitchen going? Let's just say the project is progressing nicely, we continue to have discussions, and we still love each other.


But I don't think we'll be remodeling the bathroom anytime soon.

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