Five Qualities of a True Christian
So often in this day and age, determining who is and is not a Christian is a difficult task. In the United States, in 2014, Pew Research Center observed that seventy percent of the population claimed to belong to Jesus. However, when I look around at those who say they are Christians, I find that percentage to be far less. Now, as I wrote in "How to Become a Christian," Christians are people that have a personal relationship with Jesus and those who have given their life to Him. If Pew asked the same survey group, "How often do you defer judgment over a decision or temptation to Christ?" That number would decrease dramatically, as our culture vastly values pleasure over selflessness. Or if they had asked "How many times a week do you selflessly love others?" Once again, the number would decrease. While Christians are not perfect by any means, here are five qualities all true Christians will exhibit:
1. They honor God with their actions.
This may be a no-brainer, but if you are reading this, chances are you doubt the existence of God or think His followers are a bunch of hypocrites. A fallacy with modern Christianity is that God saves people because they are good. Believing this believes that God cares about all the things we do to try to be closer to Him. God cares not for such things. He saves us out of the selflessness of His heart, out of care and devotion to His creation. He created us to love Him and to serve Him and the Christian would do well to follow that dictate.
When Jesus saves us, He does so not because o anything we have done, but because of His immense and incredible love for all people. After we are saved, however, Jesus calls us to follow after Him, doing as He says. AS I said in my other article, when one becomes a Christian, they allow Jesus to become the boss - He now calls the shots. One thing He calls us to do is honor the Lord God with everything we are. This, in short, means we live our lives with integrity. What we say and what we do should match if we have given our hearts to God. While Christians can be some of the more prominent hypocrites on this earth, they strive to honor God through the relationships we make, the actions we take, and the words we say. Once Jesus calls us out and saves us, we must live with integrity, giving every decision to God as worship to Him.
2. They are honest.
Just as a Christian walks with integrity, taking care to honor God with every word uttered and every action spent, a Christian is also honest about the life they live. Someone who truly loves and serves Jesus makes sure people understand that the Christian life is not marked with accolades of perfection, but with humility of our position without God's matchless grace. When we were in our sin, God saved us by sending His son, Jesus to die, sharing grace with us, Romans 5:8 claims. Without the cross and Jesus' sacrifice upon it, we are nothing.
A true Christian will point everyone to the glory of God, not unto their own strength, for it is by Him and through Him all things have their existence, Colossians 1:16 states. A Christ-Follower will do well to tell everyone who questions their conversion that Jesus did not call them to an easy life - the Christian life is incredibly difficult and they are simply doing their best to honor God with everything they do. "Our lives are not for us," a faithful believer should also take care to say. Just as a Christian should honor God with their words, they should give glory to Whom it is due, being blatantly honest about the life they lead, sharing with others that Jesus is strong in their weaknesses and that He leads them, using them for His kingdom. Christians can be hypocritical, it is definitely understandable, but a true Christian will help dispel that by pointing to God and giving Him glory for their life, as they are honest about what He has done for them.
3. They are quick to forgive.
When Jesus went to the cross, He took part in one of the most brutal forms of torture known ever to man. It remains prominent because a man would die slowly upon the beams, as the life slowly dripped from their veins. Nothing put a criminal in their place an exposed their shame like crucifixion. This makes Jesus' humiliation all the more disgraceful. "But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed," Isaiah 53:5 proclaims. Jesus went through an incredibly abhorrent punishment that He might save those whom He loved.
A Christian should remember this. When we forget the suffering our Savior went through, we take the grace and forgiveness He showed us, and continually so, for granted. When this sacrifice is kept at the forefront of the mind, remembering its pure evil, and His utmost love for us, we are able to forgive others more capably. A true Christian will be easily forgiving because they are able to remember fully the extent to which Christ suffered to forgive us, so it is nothing to pass on that immense grace when others wrong us, in fact it is a pleasure! We are not the best at this, but what is important is that when you see a Christian forgive someone that would be nigh impossible if they truly did not follow and love Christ.
4. They do all they can to stay away from sin.
Have you ever found a Reese's Cup and tried to stay away from it? Maybe that sweet temptation for you is chocolate cake, a Dr. Pepper, or gummy bears. Whatever it is, you know what gigs you. If you have ever given up this sweet treat for a period of time, you realize, at first, how easy it is to surrender to that desire, let it flank you, and destroy your will power. Once you finally gain some stamina and have a few weeks under your belt, staying away from those things becomes at least marginally easier, even though that sweet delicacy calls to you every chance you get.
If you can relate to that, you can relate to the Christian's struggle to avoid sin. When something we struggle with presents an opportunity to lay with it, it is nigh impossible to negotiate ourselves out of engaging with it. Sin attacks the heart, the senses, and the mind, much like chocolate cake or a Reese's cup does. However, Christians are called to avoid that which will destroy us, these sins that appeal to us from all sides. Giving them up can be an ordeal. But, above all, Christians' priority should be to honor God in their actions, which includes giving up sin to follow Him, not indulging in selfish, destructive habits and desires. A true Christian and disciple will take up their cross, die to themselves, and follow Him daily, Luke 9:23 claims.
5. They profess Jesus is Lord of their lives.
When Jesus takes over the life of a Christian, He takes over so that He becomes a Lord over a person. In the Middle Ages, largely aside from royalty, there were two classes: peasants and lords. The lords owned the land and often the peasants and workers on it. They subsequently owned all of the crop yield, tools, and buildings on the property - everything belonged to them. When the peasants brought in the crops, the lords took the majority, leaving the destitute peasants little from which to provide for their families. n exchange, the lords "defended" the peasants when an attack mounted the lord and his army. This relationship left the lords owning the poor peasants, who could neither defend nor provide for themselves.
In much of the same sense, Jesus owns us when we surrender our lives to Him. While He gets to call the shots and make the decisions, He in turn protects us and provides for us, a facet this feudal relationship lacked. When a Christian becomes a Christian, they give Jesus the authority to lead and guide them into the life He has for them, which is far more abundant than a life lived alone, without Christ. They will also tell others about this arrangement. Those who truly follow Christ will let others know about it. How difficult it would be to know who is true and fake unless they spoke up with their actions and words, as a complete picture cannot be drawn from either in isolation. Allowing Jesus to be Lord does not mean one is a robot, mindlessly rendering one's existence to a leader who cares not for them, but giving the tim one has to someone who can do the most with it. A true Christian will share this fact with those they interact with and make this truth known.
Reflecting on this, a Christian will live a life trying to reflect Jesus, as He made all of these paramount in His life. He lived a life that honored God, was honest and forgiving, void of sin, and professed that God sent Him because of His lordship over His own life. Jesus is the example, and in Him all of these qualities, and the life of a true Christian and follower of Jesus, should be summed up.