Are You Truly Walking

in the Steps of Jesus?


Most people in our society eagerly learn about the views and lifestyles of television personalities, movie stars, sports figures, musical artists, and other celebrities. They want to know about them and be like them. They may want to dress like them, drive the kind of car they drive, use the brand of toothpaste they use, wear the hairstyle they wear, and adopt the social and political views they have. Whether consciously or unconsciously, they imitate those whom they admire and to whom they are devoted.

The Christian is unconcerned about following these personalities of the world but he is vitally concerned about following the Lord Jesus Christ whom he serves. Since Christ has died for the believer, has rescued him from sin and hell, and now has authority in heaven and on earth, the believer seeks to walk in His steps and do His will. To this extent, there is value in asking, “What would Jesus do?”

What is your perspective? Are you interesting in following those whom the world admires and elevates—or are you determined to follow the Lord and Savior who loves you and wants you to be with Him forever? We cannot have it both ways! It is one or the other. What is your own purpose in life? Do you want to know how Jesus lived while on earth and how He would live today if He were on earth? We challenge you to read this booklet to answer the profound question, “What would Jesus do?”

What Would Jesus Do?

It is a question that is increasingly asked in our day. It is asked on shirts, wristbands, headbands, backpacks, and on other items: “What would Jesus do?” We may recall the volume written by Charles Sheldon in 1897, In His Steps. The fictional book, which has sold over 15 million copies, told the story of people who attempted to ask, “What would Jesus do?,” before they made any decisions in life. Years later, a sequel to the original book appeared, with the relevant title, What Would Jesus Do?

It’s a Good Question!

The question is a good one and it is supported by Scripture. Peter writes, “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). We should aspire to follow in the steps of Jesus! Paul wrote, “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord” (1 Thess. 1:6a; cf. 1 Cor. 11:1). We must “imitate” the Lord Jesus and His perfect life. John the apostle also wrote, “The one who says he abides in Him ought Himself to walk in the same manner as He walked(1 John 2:6). We must “walk” or live just as Jesus lived! Thus, it is true that we are to “walk in Jesus’ steps” and ask, “What would Jesus do?”

If we are going to carry out this worthy desire, we must know how Jesus walked. We must have some clear understanding of how He lived from day to day during His earthly life. How can we discover this from the Word of God?

How Did Jesus Live?

First, Jesus lived to please God. He was able to say, “I always do the things that are pleasing to Him” (John 8:29). Paul adds that “even Christ did not please Himself”(Rom. 15:3a). Jesus pleased God His Father rather than Himself. In fact, God acknowledged, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased”(Matt. 17:5). We also are to please God and Christ. We are to “learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph. 5:10). We are to “have as our ambition . . . to be pleasing to Him” (2 Cor. 5:9; cf. Col. 1:10).

If we are seriously committed to walking in Jesus’ steps and asking, “What would Jesus do?,” we must determine to please God in all that we think, say, and do. We must be willing to say No to ourselves and Yes to God in all things. We must be willing to please God even if it means denying ourselves, our wishes, our interests, and our pleasures (Mark 8:34; 2 Cor. 5:14-15).

Second, Jesus lived to obey God. Christ Jesus knew that He could not please God unless He obeyed Him. This was Jesus’ earnest purpose in life. He plainly declared, “I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30). This was the motivation for His coming to the earth: “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). In doing the will of God, Jesus obeyed all of the Father’s commands: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:10; cf. 14:31).

If we want to walk in Jesus’ steps and know what He would do, we also must obey God. We must keep His commands and do His will rather than our will. Are you and I sincerely committed to living in total obedience to the will of God? Only the one who does the will of God will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21; Heb. 10:36). “The one who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).

Third, Jesus lived to do the work of God. Most of us are consumed with our own agendas, plans, purposes, and dreams. Jesus kept the work of God clearly before Him. He affirmed, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34; cf. 10:37-38). He said, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day” (John 9:4). Throughout His life, Jesus made the work of God His priority. At the end of His life, He was able to say that He had accomplished the work which God had given Him to do (John 17:4).

Although Jesus had a special work of dying for our sins, we too have a work to do for God in life. Paul emphasizes this: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Each of us must work for God in our daily life.

Are we consumed with the earthly affairs of life and the distractions of the world so that we lose sight of God’s work (Mark 4:18-19; Luke 21:34)? Do we assume that we have been placed here to have fun, to enjoy ourselves, and to seek passing pleasures (Heb. 10:25)? No, we have been placed on earth to carry out the work of God—serving Him, blessing the lives of others, and bringing others to Him.

Fourth, Jesus lived with the knowledge that He would go to be with God. He had a heavenly focus. Instead of thinking of preserving His earthly life, Jesus constantly focused on His heavenly home and His heavenly destiny. He said, “I am leaving the world again, and going to the Father” (John 16:28; cf. 13:3; 16:10; 14:2-3). He declared, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the One who sent Me” (John 7:33). Those who follow in Jesus’ steps will have the same perspective. Paul makes this heavenly focus clear: “If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:1-2).

Are you and I so consumed with everyday affairs that we lose our heavenly focus? Do we set our minds on “earthly things” (Phil. 3:19) or on “heavenly things”? Do we think about pleasures on earth or pleasures in heaven? Do we lay up treasures on earth or treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21)? Do we think about and talk about things of the world or things of God? Do we love the world or love God in heaven (1 John 2:15-17)?

Finally, Jesus lived for the glory of God. In all that He thought, said, and did, Jesus wanted the Father to be glorified (John 7:18; 13:31; 14:13; 17:1). At the end of His life, He prayed to the Father, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). Just as the Lord Jesus glorified God, we too must bring Him glory. Paul says, “Glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). How much should we glorify God? Paul answers, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Peter also says that “in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 4:11; cf. Romans 11:36; Eph. 3:21).

Generally, we seek our own glory (John 7:18) or seek glory from others (John 5:44) rather than seeking only the glory of God through Jesus Christ. We are self-oriented rather than God-oriented. We are self-focused rather than God-focused. We are too consumed with our needs, our wants, and our pleasures rather than longing to bring honor, praise, and glory to our blessed God.

Yes, Jesus lived to please God, to obey God, to do the work of God, to return to God, and to glorify God. How did He carry out these perspectives?

What Did Jesus Do?

As we read through the Gospels and the remainder of the New Testament, we learn much about what Jesus did. Notice the following elements of His life (and look up the Scripture passages):

  • Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38).
  • Jesus was filled with compassion (Matt. 9:36).
  • Jesus wept with those who wept (John 11:33-36).
  • Jesus denied Himself of food when needed (Mark 3:20).
  • Jesus denied Himself of sleep when needed (Luke 6:12).
  • Jesus knew how to hold down a job (Mark 6:3).
  • Jesus continually prayed to the Father (Mark 1:35).
  • Jesus knew the Scriptures well (Matt. 4:4,7,10).
  • Jesus came to serve God and others (Matt. 20:28).
  • Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death (Phil. 2:5-8).
  • Jesus healed the sick (Matt. 4:23-24).
  • Jesus taught in the synagogue (Matt. 4:24).
  • Jesus taught the multitudes (Matt. 12:46).
  • Jesus proclaimed the gospel (Matt. 9:35).
  • Jesus blessed repentant sinners (Luke 7:37-50).
  • Jesus counseled the religious (John 3:1-15).
  • Jesus counseled the sinners (John 4:3-26).
  • Jesus helped people reach highest priorities (Luke 10:38-42).
  • Jesus had fellowship with His disciples (Mark 3:14).
  • Jesus treated women with great respect (Luke 8:1-3).
  • Jesus was concerned with people’s needs (Matt. 14:15-21).
  • Jesus boldly confronted hypocrites (Matt. 22:18).
  • Jesus sometimes spent time alone with God (Matt. 14:23).
  • Jesus knew when to speak (John 18:33-38).
  • Jesus knew when to be silent (John 19:8-9).

Scriptures such as these (there are many more) give us an insight into Jesus’ character and lifestyle. While we may not be able to follow Him in every aspect (since He was the very Son of God), yet we may imitate Him in many of these ways.

How Can We Personally Apply This?

We have discovered Jesus’ perspective on life and how He lived. If we are going to walk in His steps, we must seek to answer the question, “What would Jesus do?” It must be granted that our Lord never drove a car, set an alarm clock, worked with a computer, read a book, handled an electric saw, or used a shower in His life. He never handled a ball point pen, never peddled a bicycle, never opened a can of food, and probably never rode a horse in His life. Yet, since we know certain principles of His life and have discovered how He lived, we are prepared to know something about how He would live if He were alive today. We must take what we have learned and make some practical applications.

Let’s ask, “What would Jesus do?,” in regard to the following activities. Be willing to examine yourself in these same activities. Would you do what Jesus would do?

Would Jesus . . .

  1. Use profanity (Colossians 3:8)?
  2. Become selfishly angry (Matthew 5:22; Ephesians 5:31)?
  3. Tell a lie (Colossians 3:9)?
  4. Sexually lust for a woman (Matthew 5:27-28)?
  5. Pray to the Father regularly (Luke 18:1)?
  6. Read the Bible every day (Matthew 4:4)?
  7. Be ashamed to speak of God (Mark 8:38)?
  8. Seek to get rich (1 Timothy 6:9-10)?
  9. Dress immodestly or provocatively (1 Timothy 2:9-10)?
  10. Selfishly divorce a wife (Luke 16:18)?
  11. Remarry after divorce (Matthew 19:9)?
  12. Become intoxicated (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21)?
  13. Smoke cigarettes (Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:20)?
  14. Speak kind and helpful words (Ephesians 4:29)?
  15. Be thoughtful and gentle toward people (Matthew 5:5,7)?
  16. Treat the poor with respect (Luke 16:19-20; 21:1-4)?
  17. View pornography (2 Timothy 2:22)?
  18. Play foolish computer games (Titus 3:3)?
  19. Watch sinful television programs (1 Peter 2:11)?
  20. View sinful Hollywood movies (Philippians 4:8)?
  21. Own a luxury automobile (1 John 2:16-17)?
  22. Waste precious time (Ephesians 5:15-16)?
  23. Waste precious possessions (John 6:12)?
  24. Waste money God has given (Luke 16:10)?
  25. Listen to rock, country, or rap music (Philippians 4:8)?
  26. Seek worldly education (1 Corinthians 3:19-20)?
  27. Eat too much or harmful foods (1 Corinthians 10:31)?
  28. Drive in a fast or reckless manner (Romans 13:1-2)?
  29. Pay taxes and observe civil regulations (Romans 13:6-7)?
  30. Play the lottery or gamble in other ways (Luke 6:31)?
  31. Sleep too much (Romans 12:11; Hebrews 6:12)?
  32. Read foolish and sinful literature (Romans 12:2)?
  33. Have a job requiring sinful compromise (1 Thess. 5:22)?
  34. Seek a luxurious house and furnishings (Luke 12:15-21)?
  35. Indulge in homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27)?
  36. Pile up money in the bank (Matthew 6:19-21)?
  37. Spend a day at an amusement park (1 John 2:15-17)?
  38. Be more interested in giving than receiving (Acts 20:35)?
  39. Express love toward those in need (Luke 10:25-37)?
  40. Forgive those who sin against us (Matthew 18:21-35)?
  41. Rebuke those who sin (Luke 17:3)?

What About Us?

How have you answered the foregoing questions? Hopefully, you were able to “judge with righteous judgment” and determine what Jesus would do in each case (John 7:24). But if you have been able to see what Jesus would do, we must ask you personally: “What would you do?” What would I do? How do we confront the thousands of situations in life that require us to decide between different alternatives? Are we careful to do what Jesus would do—or do we compromise and do what our flesh, our heart, our body seeks? What’s worse, do we even care what Jesus would do? Do we hypocritically want to be identified with Jesus but have little or no interest in following Him in a practical way? Consider for a few moments these compromising situations or activities:

  • If Jesus would not use bad language, do you use such language?
  • If Jesus would not misuse His money, do you carelessly misuse your money?
  • If Jesus would not sexually touch a person of the opposite sex, do you indulge in sexual compromise?
  • If Jesus would not participate in violent competitive sports, do you enjoy watching or following such sports?
  • If Jesus would not wear revealing or expensive clothing, do you wear immodest clothes?
  • If Jesus would not treat people disrespectfully, are you unkind and unloving toward certain people?
  • If Jesus honored His parents, do you honor your parents?
  • If Jesus loved and used Scripture, do you seldom read and study the Bible?
  • If Jesus would not smoke or use tobacco, do you sometimes indulge this filthy habit?
  • If Jesus would not read filthy literature, do you sometimes yield to such magazines, books, pictures, or newspapers?
  • If Jesus would not watch the worldliness on television, do you give in to this popular pastime?
  • If Jesus denounced the religious hypocrisy in His time, do you expose the hypocrisy in the churches you know about?
  • If Jesus’ thoughts were entirely pure, is your mind sometimes occupied with impurity and worldly thoughts?
  • If Jesus had a burning desire to love and serve God, do you have a like passion?

Yes, what about us? Do we ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” Do we really want the answer? Do we act as though Jesus never lived and never taught the will of God?

A Vital Requirement

When this matter of following in the steps of Jesus is mentioned, most people overlook a very important qualification. It is the key to the whole question we have been discussing. In order to truly follow in the steps of Jesus, we must belong to Him! We must become His follower! We must identify with Him!

What do we mean by this? As long as we are in our sins, we are cut off from God. If we have never been forgiven of our many sins, we are lost and separated from God. This is why Jesus came to this earth! He came to die for our sins so that we might be forgiven of them. He “bore our sins in His body on the cross” and “died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 2:24; 3:18). Because the Lord Jesus gave Himself for our sins, we may be forgiven of them and enter into a saving relationship with God through Him (Romans 5:9-11).

Furthermore, Jesus said that just as we have been born physically, so we may be born spiritually and become a son or daughter in God’s spiritual family (John 3:3-16; 1 John 3:1-2). We can receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts (Ephesians 1:13) and through this wonderful gift, we have the power and strength to live before God in holiness and righteousness (Ephesians 3:16). Therefore, Paul writes, “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. . . . If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:6,13). We can become new creatures in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17) and “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24; cf. Colossians 3:9-10).

When we have been forgiven of all our sins, when we are made new persons in Christ, and when we have God’s Holy Spirit living in us, we then have the ability or strength to live as Jesus lived! We are able to ask, “What would Jesus do?” God will be at work in us, “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Apart from this inner strength and spiritual transformation, we will not be able to fully walk in the steps of Jesus in a practical way in our lives. We may even fight against certain things He taught and oppose what He would want in our lives!

But how can we come to God through Jesus Christ? In deep sorrow and grief, we must renounce all of our sins. We must repent of them and turn from them (see Acts 3:19,26; 17:30-31; 26:18,20). We must forsake any sins or sinful relationships we now have (1 Thessalonians 1:9; Proverbs 28:13). We must turn to God and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31; John 3:15-18), placing our faith in the Christ who died and rose again for us (Romans 3:24-26; 5:1). We are not saved by our own ability or deeds, but by God’s love and grace toward us (Ephesians 2:8-10). Scripture also says that we must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord or Ruler (Romans 10:9-10) and determine to let Him govern all aspects of our personal lives (Luke 6:46). As we come to Christ in faith, we are to express this coming by being baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27) and into His death (Romans 6:3-8), as well as being buried with Him through baptism into our own death to sin and then rising to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-5). We may have all of our sins forgiven and receive God’s precious gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-41; 22:16)! We will then be able to live as Jesus lived in fellowship with God!

What Would Jesus Do?

What would Jesus do? It is a good question! Let us ask it often! Let us seek to really know the mind of the Lord, revealed in the written Word (the Bible). Let us seek to discern how the apostles and other followers of Jesus would live if they walked among us today (see 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Philippians 3:17; 4:9). If we truly know Jesus, we are to walk as He walked and do His will (1 John 2:3-6). If you do not personally know Him yet and are not one of His true disciples, now is the time to come to Him. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

Richard Hollerman

Comments are closed.