Is this like Jesus?
James Smith, 1860
CONSCIENCE is often a faithful monitor, a powerful reprover, and a wise instructor. If conscience is enlightened by God's truth, cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and kept tender by the communion of the Holy Spirit — it should always be attended to, and its admonitions should be carefully regarded. Such a conscience will propose questions, draw comparisons, and quote scriptures — which will do us immense good. Treat conscience aright — and it will be your best friend; use it improperly — and it will be your most terrible foe. If then conscience speaks — let us listen to it; and if it prompts — let us obey it. The sentence of conscience — is next to the sentence of God; and the authority of conscience — is only just below the authority of God. But how will an enlightened and honest conscience instruct and reprove us? Take one view of the subject, and one only.
A Christian man gets out of temper. He feels angry. He speaks rashly. His eyes flash fire. He is almost as ready to act, as inconsistently as he feels. Conscience, is quiet until the storm begins to abate, and then it calmly whispers, "Is this like Jesus?" Now the good man admits that he ought to be like Jesus. He desires and prays that he may be made like Jesus. The question is, therefore, like a thunderbolt. It almost crushes him. He feels condemned. He turns the whole torrent of his wrath against himself, and perhaps exclaims, "Like Jesus! No, it is more like the devil!" He sinks in his own estimation. He hides his head before God. He loathes himself. Yes, he abhors himself. At length, in the dust of self-abasement he confesses his sin before God, pleads the blood of Jesus for his pardon, beseeches the Lord to send the Spirit to sanctify his nature, and to give him power over his irascible temper. Not for one moment will he attempt to justify himself, or plead the weakness of human nature — but taking to himself all the blame, he creeps like a well-whipped child into his Father's presence, and prays for restoration and peace.
A believer is tempted to idle his time, wrap up his talent in a napkin, and indulge himself in questionable amusements. Many excuses are presented to him, the flesh pleads piteously, and he listens to it. He becomes idle, slothful, and comparatively unconcerned for the glory of God. Conscience for a time seems to slumber — but at length with a stern strong voice it asks, "Is this like Jesus?" He remembers his Master's words when but a child, "I must be about my Father's business!" and the testimony of the apostles flashes across his mind, "He went about doing good." The panorama of his Lord's life is spread out before him, and he sees no self-indulgence, no wasting of the Lord's money, no idling or losing of precious time there. He knows that Jesus has left us an example, that we should follow in his steps, and that he said, "You should do as I have done."
He is perhaps tempted to frame an excuse, or yield to temptation — but again conscience, speaking louder and with more authority, asks, "Is this like Jesus?" He is obliged to acknowledge it is not, to admit his guilt, to seek for more grace, and again bow to the command, "Occupy until I come."
Many similar cases may be adduced — but these two are enough. They show the value, importance, and blessedness, of having an honest, enlightened, and tender conscience. Beloved, have you such a conscience? My soul, have I? We ought to have. Let us therefore ascertain for certain, whether we have, or have not. If we have, let us encourage it, and bow to its authority, next to the word of God. If we have not, let us take it to the blood of atonement — to be cleansed, to the word of God — to be enlightened, and to the Spirit of God — to be made honest and tender.
Let us take the question we have supposed to be proposed for our daily use, and in all our transactions with our fellow men, in all our conduct toward God, and in all we do, both in public and private, let us test it by this, "Is this like Jesus?"
Is it like Jesus — to be so irritable, so hasty, so unkind?
Is it like Jesus — to be so resentful, or spiteful, or sulky?
Is it like Jesus — to be so hard, overreaching, or covetous?
Is it like Jesus — to be so vain, so foolish, so full of jests?
Is it like Jesus — to be so dull, so gloomy, so forbidding?
Is it like Jesus — to be so dissatisfied with my lot, to murmur on account of my circumstances, or to complain of my afflictions?
Is it like Jesus — to be so self-willed, so self-confident, so self-conceited?
Is it like Jesus — to be so exacting, so ready to take offence, so backward to forgive?
Reader, is your spirit, temper, disposition, and daily conduct — like Jesus? It should be. Are you holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners? You ought to be.
Surely if we tried ourselves thus — if we often called ourselves to account as we ought — we would have more humility — and less pride; more spirituality — and less worldliness; more of the temper of Christ — and less of the spirit of Satan. We would have more frequent dealings with the blood of Jesus; we would walk closer with God; we would depend more on the Holy Spirit; and we would adorn the doctrine of God our Savior, more than we do.
We would treat the world, more as it befits a child of God — we would set our affections more on things above; and we would be more prepared than we are, for the coming of the Savior. Satan would not so easily get an advantage over us; the world would not so frequently ensnare us; nor would the flesh get such fearful conquests over the spirit!
Let us then, as we value our own peace, as we are concerned for the honor of God, as we desire the welfare of this poor fallen world, as we feel our obligation to the Lord Jesus, and as we would be found prepared for glory — let us endeavor to act more like Jesus! And in order to this, let us make frequent use of this testing question, whenever our temper rises, or our lusts inflame us, or our tongues run too freely, or our conversation is not with grace, or we slight God's ordinances, or prefer the ease of the body to the prosperity of the soul — then let us press home the question, "Is this like Jesus?"