Or other costly merchandise?”
“Nay, I am but a piece of clay.”
“Then, whence this wondrous sweetness, pray?”
“Friend, if the secret I disclose,
I have been living with the rose.”
Christians are supposed to try to be like Jesus—living as He would, acting as He would, speaking as He would, and even thinking as He would. But how do we accomplish that? How can we be more like Him? As in the Persian fable, it comes from living close to Jesus.1
Many of us do spend time with Jesus, but how much quality time do we spend with Him, where we shut out the business of the day and give Him our full attention, communing with Him, enjoying Him, and getting to know Him better in order to become more like Him? If we don’t, no matter how many good qualities we possess or how dynamic we are or how dedicated we are, no matter how good we are with people or what else we may have going for us, if we’re not spending time with Jesus, we’re not going to be a very good reflection of Him or His love to others.
The dictionary defines “communion” as “a feeling of emotional or spiritual closeness, a connection.” So communing with Jesus means to make an emotional and spiritual connection with Jesus. Praise, prayer, and reading God’s Word are all ways of making and sustaining that connection. These are the lifeblood of our spiritual lives.
Many of us tend to pick up the pace when our workloads increase, and that leads to more stress. Taking time off to relax can help relieve the pressure, but time alone or with friends or family can’t give us what Jesus can.
Hobbies can also be relaxing and fun, but if we’re not careful, they can actually contribute to the problem by taking time away from the essentials, including the most essential—taking time with Jesus. That’s a common mistake people make—filling every spare moment with more “busyness,” when the Lord wants them to take that time with Him.
The surest way to complete and lasting renewal—in fact, the only way—is to spend time with Jesus. We need His love and strength and wisdom, and the only way we can get those is by spending time with Him.
But carving out time from your daily schedule is no guarantee that you’re going to get closer to the Lord; it’s what you do with that time that counts. You need to get still, empty your mind of the business of the day, and let the Lord fill you with positive, encouraging, strengthening, faith-building thoughts from His recorded and living Word.
Jesus said the requirement for a fruitful life is abiding in Him. “Abide in Me, and I in you.”2 That means staying connected with Him by taking time to read His Word and pray and listen to Him.
It’s easy to let prayer become a formality, but one thing that can help you avoid that is to think of Jesus as the Friend, Counselor, and Lover that He wants to be to you. As someone once said, “The more one loves Jesus, the more he delights to be with Jesus alone. Lovers love to be alone.”
But He won’t push you. He waits to see how much you are willing to abandon all other distractions in order to put Him first. If you have Him in first place, then you will see and feel His power and help in your life beyond what you ever imagined.
The nature of Jesus
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance."3
These are virtues that define Jesus, and if we read His Word and spend time with Him in prayer on a regular basis, we will take on some of His attributes. How can we expect to be changed for the better? Let’s go down the list and see.
Love: God is love. Jesus is the embodiment of God’s love. As followers of Jesus, we, too, need to manifest love in every way we can.
Joy: True happiness comes from being close to God and living our lives His way.
Peace: The word in the Old Testament that is translated “peace” actually has a broader meaning: completeness, soundness, and overall well-being. In the New Testament, “peace” often refers to inner tranquility, a combination of hope, trust, and quiet of mind and spirit. Peace comes from faith, and faith comes from reading and believing God’s Word.4
Longsuffering: At least one English version of the Bible translates this “patience”—the ability to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties. We often need to be patient, either with people or with circumstances, and we need to do so in a spirit of love.
Gentleness: To be gentle is to have a mild and kind nature, a gracious and honorable manner, consideration, and a spirit of fairness and compassion. Jesus sounds like a true gentleman, doesn’t He?
Goodness: My Bible dictionary says that goodness consists of righteousness, holiness, justice, kindness, grace, mercy, and love. Other definitions include having an upright and virtuous character, and having a kind and gentle disposition. Again, these certainly characterize Jesus. If His Spirit abides in us, so they should also characterize us.
Faith, or faithfulness: One of the meanings of faithfulness is unwavering belief. Another is being conscientious, having a sense of responsibility and devotion to duty.
Meekness: I particularly like one definition that says meekness is “an attitude of humility toward God and gentleness toward men, springing from a recognition that God is in control.”
Temperance, or self-control: This is the ability to control your behavior, especially in terms of reactions and impulses.
Jesus wants to impart to us these qualities, so they mesh into the core of our being. We will then demonstrate them in our lives, not only for our own benefit by changing our nature and improving our personality, but also for the benefit of others whom He wants to bless and reach through our example.
1. 2 Corinthians 3:18
2. John 15:4
3. Galatians 5:22–23 KJV
4. Romans 10:17