“In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do”, written by Charles Monroe Sheldon and first published in 1897 (ISBN 0-8007-8608-4) has had a profound affect on many Christians. The acronym “WWJD” is still seen on many Christian materials. No doubt, it has had a positive impact on many Christians. Since this book was written 114 years ago, could it
still be good advice for today? In my opinion, it is always good advice to follow, but perhaps, even more so today.
Off and on through the years, I too have tried to follow “WWJD”, but have failed many times, because I am flesh. Since I cannot always do what Jesus would do … in my flesh, should I just quit? No, but I do need to be aware of my frailties. Think about this. If I am a self-righteous person, I may “think” I am doing what Jesus would do (remember the scribes and Pharisees), but I could be just promoting my own agenda. So in this, I need to be wary of my intentions.
The Law is all about “works”. It demands total, absolute fulfillment, or death. Can I, by my own volition, fulfill the Law? Absolutely not. Then when I am trying to comply with “What Would Jesus Do”, am I attempting to fulfill the Law, as the scribes and Pharisees, or simply trying to follow my Master?
There are two roads in a person’s life, (1) the Law, and (2) Grace. The Law demands that our works comply with all the requirements of the Law, or else face eternal death. If we fail in even one point, just one time, we are guilty before the Law. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10). Grace demands that we rely on the works of Jesus (Who did fulfill the Law) for eternal life.
If one does not know Jesus as Savior, they are relying on their own ability to fulfill the Law, and that is impossible for any child of Adam to do. They are guilty under the Law, and are therefore condemned under the Law. However, if they will accept Jesus to take their place, as He has done, then they are not guilty under the Law, because Jesus fulfilled the Law and stands in their stead. They are no longer a child of Adam, but a child of the new Adam; i.e. Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Again, the outcome under the condemnation of the Law is eternal death, but if we are Christ’s, we are not judged under the Law, because Jesus was judged on our behalf. Jesus fulfilled the Law and gives us eternal life. That is Grace.
What about the Christian? The final outcome of the Christian, eternal life, is always secure in Christ Jesus, but the sanctification, or growth, of the Christian is dependent on good works produced by the Holy Spirit, and not human works produced by us. If I then ask myself in any given situation, “What Would Jesus Do”, will my response be accurate or inaccurate as to what Jesus would do?
Am I making a “mountain out of a mole hill”? I do not think so, but we do need to be careful in the conclusion we come to when asking this question of ourselves. It might pay to remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:3, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” In considering this verse, the main point to keep in mind is to be cautious of any favoritism on our part toward our own attitude or preconceived opinions. In other words, are we seeing Jesus’ Word accurately, or is there a misinterpretation on our part for selfish means?
Two things must be done by the Christian to effectively use this acronym; (1) we must know what He would do, and (2) we must let Him perform the work through us by His Spirit Who lives within us.
(1) We must know what Jesus would do. The only way to accomplish this is to listen to what He has to say about Himself to us. He speaks to us through His Word, the Bible. We cannot know Him without listening to Him, and He speaks through His Word. Here is where we need to reside.
(2) Let His Spirit produce through us. He has given us His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to teach us and to guide us. We must be honest with ourselves, and objectively listen to Him and follow Him.
Is it possible that we could still “get it wrong”? As long as we are in this flesh, we are bound to err in our judgment of what to do in a particular situation. That doesn’t mean, we just give up; on the contrary, we give ourselves up to Him. We should always have a mirror (spiritually) in front of our face, examining our intentions. When I ask myself “What Would Jesus Do”, am I self-motivated, or Christ motivated? Sometimes, it is hard to see the difference, if I am not allowing the Bible to be my mirror.
Should I then continue to ask myself, “What Would Jesus Do”? I personally feel that it would be an excellent thing to do. Surely, we would err far less by doing so, than if we did not.