A few years ago bracelets with the four letters WWJD were all the rage—and what a great sentiment was expressed by those simple wristbands. Truly our lives would be altered if every decision and every moment were controlled by a reflection on what Jesus would do if He were in our situation, for Jesus should be our great example (1 Pet. 2:21;1 Cor. 11:1). The underlying concept behind WWJD was excellent, but in practice it often came up short because it was treated in a subjective way. Many reached their conclusions as to what Jesus would do or say about situations, questions, doctrinal matters, etc. without really knowing what Jesus had already said or done.
While the question “What would Jesus do?” is vital, it must be preceded by the question, “What did Jesus say?” As the one with all authority, His commandments are to be obeyed (Matt. 28:18-20). To ask WWJD is to acknowledge Him as Lord, but let’s not forget the question He once asked in Luke 6:46, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Are we so committed to abiding in His words of truth, the words which will judge us, that we can know what He would do because we have listened to what He said (John 8:31, 32;12:48)?
And as we begin to appreciate that WWJD must begin with WDJS, we need to be aware that all the words of Jesus are not found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If we take only the “red letters” we will miss a lot of what Jesus said, for shortly before His death He spoke to His apostles with these words: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you…. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 14:26; 16:12, 13). Because the Holy Spirit did that which Jesus said He would do, Paul could challenge those at Corinth to acknowledge that His writings were not his own, but were instead the commandments of the Lord (1 Cor. 14:37).
Closely related to the idea of learning what Jesus said is being able to answer the question, what did Jesus do? While the New Testament writers do not provide us with every detail of His life, we are given many concrete examples that allow us to “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6) and “follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). And to reinforce the idea that asking what Jesus would do is not to be a subjective, emotionally-charged decision, 1 John 2:3-6 makes it clear that walking as He walked is parallel to keeping His commandments and His word.
If we have committed ourselves to knowing what Jesus has said, both personally and through His spokesmen, and have carefully studied what Jesus did as He set an example for us, then the answer to WWJD in the following will not depend upon our own suppositions or emotions. Instead, knowing what He said and did, we can properly answer What Would Jesus Have Us Do if…
- Facing a choice between that which would be personally painful and that which the Father desires?
- We have become weary and discouraged?
- We meet an immoral person willing to listen?
- Men are substituting their traditions for the word of God?
- Invited to a movie featuring nudity and sexual scenes?
- Our marriage is in trouble because of an inability to forgive?
- We come across someone robbed and beaten (or otherwise mistreated)?
- People are making changes to God’s word?
- Tempted to make a compromise for financial benefit?
- There is a conflict between loyalty to family and serving God?
- Our lives are threatened by persecution?
“Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).
John R. Gibson
All quotes taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1994, Thomas Nelson Publishers.