If we simply try to imitate Christ’s external behavior—being kind, compassionate and merciful without strengthening our spiritual core—then we risk missing out on the very process that makes us Christlike.

Read: Luke 7:11-17

Ask Yourself & Journal:

• Consider what moved the heart of Jesus before He performed the miracle. Are you filled with this same compassion?

Verse 13 says that when Jesus saw the widow and her only son dead, “his heart overflowed with compassion.” (NLT)  I have to stop and wonder about the times I’ve seen people in painful situations and if I reached out to them with compassion.  This brings to mind another instance of compassion in scripture: the story of The Good Samaritan.  In that parable it was the Samaritan who showed compassion. There is a common thread in what Jesus did in Luke and the Samaritan did in the parable: they took ACTION.  Have I created for myself a “safe” unbiblical definition of what compassion is?  From what I see in Jesus’ action, compassion is not just having pity, sympathy, and sensitivity in someone elses pain from afar, but actually taking ACTION, shouldering their suffering and making the pain yours.  After all, Passion in Roman times meant “suffering” and the prefix Com- means “with, together and jointly.”  Therefore, to have compassion is to suffer together and in everyday life this requires an ACTION on my part.

• When you think of imitating Jesus, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Do you think about reproducing his actions, or do you consider His inner motives and attitude?

Would I have reached out to the widow because that’s what Christians do or because I wouldn’t have been able to contain the love of Jesus in me?  I think I would have first thought about reproducing the ACTION of Jesus absent of his motives and attitude.  I don’t think I would do this consciously, but honestly I think that is what comes easier to me.  Considering the motive and attitudes behind the actions of Jesus just seems like to much work when faced with making a quick decision.  Wouldn’t it be better to err on the side of action rather than over-thinking and missing an opportunity?  Perhaps, but if I make this my constant model then my action will eventually become a superficial spiritual exercise.  I need to think about Jesus motives and attitudes NOW so in the future my actions will be one and the same.

• What does being a Christian really mean to you?

This is a loaded question and I could probably spend the next 31 days giving a different answer to this question; all of them meaningful.  For me, it means expressing God’s crazy love for me to those around me.  It means that I don’t have an escape route out of this world, but have had my eye’s opened to my need for a Savior in the here and now.

• Based on the way you are living your Christian life today, do you think that becoming Christlike is your primary goal?

There’s only one way of personally answering this question.  If I ask myself if becoming Christlike is my primary goal then, my natural tendency would be to examine the “things” I am doing.  I’d much rather ask myself this question this way, “Am I making losing my life daily my primary goal?”  By daily asking if a motive is coming from me or Jesus I feel I can keep Christ as the focal point in my life and not me.  After all, “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NLT)

Listen & Pray: JESUS, you are compelled by compassion and motivated by love. Every miracle you performed externally naturally flowed from who you were internally. Daily examine the condition of my spiritual core and the motives of my heart. May my daily actions spring from true compassion and love; YOUR compassion and love.