The Character and Nature of Christ

WINGS lecture by Judi Green
"Burning Hearts" lesson 5
February 2, 1999

We are studying the nature and character of Jesus. Doesn’t this inspire you to want to be more like Jesus? Do you see such descriptive words as faithful, true, guileless, obedient, just, merciful, self-denying, and loving describing our Lord and Savior, Jesus? Let’s look at Philippians 2:1-11:

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest lace and gave him the name that is above every name, that the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."


Today I feel convicted to share some scriptures and ideas about character development. I attended national and state educational conferences this month and read much more about character development – some thoughts and concerns are still on my heart.


First, let’s look at Jesus….Luke 2 tells us a little about the childhood of Jesus. Luke 2:40, "And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him." Later in Luke 2 we are told of when Jesus was 12 years old. He stayed at the Temple talking with the teachers and amazing them with his understanding. Luke 2:51&52 says, "Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."


Some Old Testament scriptures give us more insight into the upbringing Jesus and other Jewish boys would have had. Open your Bibles to Deuteronomy 6:4-9. "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. "

They ate meals together and had celebrations with storytelling of the family history…religious history. They spent time together as a family and a community.

He goes on in verses 13-19 to say, "Fear the Lord your God, serve him only …. Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he had given you. Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight so that it may go well with you …."

These verses describe (1) a relationship of total love and obedience - "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength"; (2) a life with your child of talking about the Lord…. Impress them on your children, talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Most of you have heard this Deuteronomy passage many times, and we plan to teach our children. You are here today because God is important to you.

When my own children were singing "Jesus Loves Me" in the grocery store I never thought they would struggle so much.

I wish I could go back and do some things differently, especially more prayer and attention to their heart matters. I know that I did the best I could. Today I want to share some ideas with you to challenge you to make a difference in your own lives, the lives of your children, your nieces and nephews, grandchildren, neighbor’s children, and the community.

  • Recently I heard Bill Daggett speak (Education, Not a Spectator Sport). He reviewed the history of education in our country. The following is some of his very relevant message.

In the early 1900’s

In the 1950’s

  • We talk about "nuclear families" because the old folks were now sent to "homes."
  • TV, schools, and nuclear families were where the children spent most of their time.
  • TV programs were character centered – Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver.
  • There were 7 weekly magazines published and about 3 television stations.

In the 1990’s

  • Nuclear families and single parent families.
  • There are 40,000 weekly or monthly publications.
  • 30-50 TV stations.
  • People in our society are isolating themselves with watching their own TVs and listening to their own Walkman radios.
  • Before all of this mass media, families and friends talked about guiding principles in their lives. People were taught to be honest, to do the right thing … etc.
  • We don’t discuss values/guiding principles/character now, because we are always debating the areas of disagreements in our society.
  • Teens spend an average of 7 minutes in face to face conversation with a parent.
  • Instead, both children and adults average nearly four hours a day passively watching television.
  • From birth to age 17, a child watches 15,000 hours of television.


I think we are not discussing ANYTHING in our families since a recent survey indicated that a teen spends an average of seven minutes in face to face conversation with a parent. Many families don’t eat together. I was amazed when teaching some four-year-olds in 1995, that some did not know how to have a conversation, because real people didn’t talk WITH them – asking their thoughts, and exchanging ideas.

Instead of eating together and talking about God in our lives, we seem to be watching TV. Adults and children average nearly four hours a day passively watching television. The result has been an unprecedented negative impact on American reading and thinking habits." (Jim Trelease in The New Read-Aloud Handbook.)

I say not only are they not getting God’s message through us, they ARE getting TV’s values. Would you invite those people into your home to do a skit for your family? Do you want your child taught values by the sitcoms? My primary message is not against TV, but instead that we have to TEACH our children and the children of our community like God instructed in Deuteronomy sitting at home, walking along the road, as we lie down and as we get up…. Teach them to LOVE GOD WITH ALL THEIR HEART, SOUL, AND STRENGTH.

I was impressed when I heard Stephen Covey talk about his family making a mission statement. He said that it took 8 months to get one that everyone agreed to live by. Part of that mission is to have a positive impact on the world. They decided to adopt a family. They attend ball games, video tape the "adopted" family’s kids, share pizza and show the video – all to show the love of God and that THEY CARE.

It is wonderful to be studying about Jesus. We should emulate His character and nature. I am grateful for this study of the character and nature of Jesus. When we see His life in the Bible, he had a mission (John 13:3 indicates that Jesus knew that he had come from God and was returning to God…), Jesus left a legacy – salvation for everyone who loves and obeys Him.

What’s the point? Where do we go from here? Today I challenge you to not only learn, but to consider how you can take Jesus into your family and into our community.

  1. Character traits are developed - trained (Deuteronomy 6).

  2. Our society (mass media including television) is not reinforcing and teaching Christ - like character traits and Biblical values.
  3. Avoidance of evil is not enough. We must love and worship God first and teach our children to have a mission in this world. "Jesus knew from where he came and where he was going." (John 13:3.) Our children need to see our mission and develop their own mission for God.
  4. Love in action is what is needed.

    We may care about lost souls, but they don’t care about what we know until they know we care. I encourage you to pray for understanding of how to serve.

    "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

  5. Always remember, that God wants our love and forgives our failures. Let’s pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and continue to learn God’s plan. Let’s take these lessons of Jesus to heart and show our faith, hope, and love to our families and to the world! I Corinthians 13.

Your family’s future and America’s future depend on your choice and my choice. I want to encourage you to pray, study the Bible, imitate the character and nature of Jesus, and obey God.

Judi Green

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Ladies Bible Class, 2 February 1999


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