The example of Christ is authoritative for every son and daughter of Adam. His life was the law of God lived and exemplified, a perfect pattern for all humanity, showing what man may become by partaking of the divine nature. Representing as he did the character of God, he was a perfect standard of moral excellence in humanity.
How did the world’s Redeemer walk? Not to please himself, but to glorify God, and work the works of him that sent him, in uplifting man, who was formed in the divine image, and by precept and example teaching righteousness.
He did not have a smooth path for his feet to travel. Those who ought to have been co-laborers with him in all his works, were so far separated from God by selfishness that they counteracted the work of Christ. His convenience, his comfort and pleasure, were not studied. He was the Commander of all heaven; yet he was here on earth as one that serves. Uncomplainingly he endured privations, lived the life of a poor man. The luxuries indulged in by many who claim to be sons and daughters of God, he did not bring into his life. He was a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. His whole life was one of self-denial, expressing, “Not my will, but thine be done.”
Christ never flattered any man; he never deceived, never defrauded, never changed his course of straightforward righteousness to obtain favor or applause. He ever expressed the truth. The law of kindness was upon his lips; there was no guile in his mouth.
The Son of God so conducted his life that even his unbelieving countrymen were compelled to say, “He hath done all things well.” His character was without a flaw. He did not leave the example of a life of idleness and self-indulgence, altho he was heir of all things in heaven and earth, the only-begotten Son of the Father.
Here is where human intelligences have lost sight of the Pattern. Men, because entrusted with talents of means; follow, not the standard of the character of Christ, but the standard of the world. Because they have abundance of money, houses, and lands, they train their children to a life of idleness and selfish indulgence, making them useless so far as doing good in the world is concerned. By their unwise training, the youth are unfitted in character for the future eternal life. Christ, in his life, gave us altogether a different example; he worked at the carpenter’s trade with his father.
Youth are now educated in the belief that it is the possession of plenty of money that gives men value. The sure result is pride and vanity, pleasure-loving, and abundance of idleness. Thus the way is open for Satan to corrupt life and character with his temptations to vice. Sinful practices become common. Whether rich or poor, high or low, Satan finds employment for the youth who are not trained to useful industry, and guarded and barricaded with principle.
Time is not considered as a precious treasure, a trust from God, for which every human being must give an account. Money, too, is entrusted of God to be used, not in needless extravagance by parents to the ruin of their children, but as a means of doing good to their fellow men. Even from their earliest years, as reason develops, the principles of the character of God, as given in his law, should become the rule of life and character.
Christ is our pattern, and those who follow Christ will not walk in darkness; they will not seek their own pleasure. The glory of God will be the standard at which they will unceasingly aim. The two grand precepts of the moral law are to regulate the conduct of all human intelligences: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” The Lord of heaven demands of us supreme love and worship.
The Lord will work through the human agent if he will unite himself with Christ, and the record for him in the books of heaven will be, as in the case of Enoch, that he walks with God. Like Enoch, he will have a sense of God’s abiding presence. The reason that so large a number of those who profess to be children of God always feel in uncertainty, is because they feel that they are orphans. They do not cultivate the precious assurance that Jesus is the sin-bearer; that altho they have transgressed the law, and are sinners in his sight, yet the object of the incarnation of Christ was to bring to the repenting, believing sinner everlasting peace and assurance. The great Advocate assumed human nature, and became like unto his brethren, to impress upon the human mind that no one who through faith accepts him as a personal Saviour is an orphan, or is left to bear the curse of his own sins. Christians may daily cultivate faith by contemplating the One who has undertaken their cause, their “merciful and faithful High Priest.” Having suffered, being tempted, not merely in a few things, but in all things like as we are tempted, he is able to succor all that are tempted. Even now in heaven he is afflicted in all our afflictions, and as a living Saviour he is asking intercession for us.
The human agent is to compare his life with the character of Jesus Christ, and through the grace which he imparts to all true believers, seek to reach the perfection of his example who lived the law of Jehovah.
Christ’s testimony of himself was, “I have kept my Father’s commandments.” Those who follow Christ will be constantly looking into the perfect law of liberty, and through the grace given them by Christ, will fashion their character to meet the divine requirements. The heart must be opened to receive Christ, and abide in him. As the branch is connected with the living vine, a vital union is formed between the parent stalk and the branch, and the same fruit appears on the branch as is seen on the vine. Every faculty of mind and body is to be enlisted in the service of Christ, following his example, and catching his spirit, thus building the character after the divine similitude. Our faith is daily to be exercised, and to increase by exercise in him who has redeemed us, not only because he loved us, but because, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
— E.G. White, Signs of the Times, November 12, 1896