Should we guide our actions with the question, 'What would Jesus do (WWJD)?'
The first reaction to this question is, "Yes, this is a good thing to do." But is it? The Scripture indicates that we should follow the will of Jesus in everything. This direction is better phrased as, "What would Jesus want me to do?" rather than "What would Jesus do?"
Assuming that we can even answer the question WWJD is a bit presumptuous. Among a group of people presented with a similar situation, there will be different responses as to what each thinks Jesus would do. Even one person faced with a similar situation twice may have different responses as to what Jesus would do each time. Biblically, we see Jesus presented with what seem to be similar situations and yet respond differently. He could see the deeper truths and the spiritual realities at play. We often cannot. Guiding our actions with WWJD can easily turn into an excuse for doing what we want, not what He wants us to do. Instead, our actions should be guided by our knowledge of God and His instructions as well as by the continual direction of the Holy Spirit.
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5—7) gives us good guidelines for many of our actions, but I think the whole sermon can be summed up in one command Jesus gave us. He said we should "… seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33). In order for our actions to be what Jesus would want from us, we must seek to know His will. Since He sees everything about every situation, including what we cannot see, we must ask Him what to do. In some situations, His will is very clear. For example, it is clearly His will that we should not commit adultery, regardless of how attractive we think such an action could be. But in other situations, His will is not easy to see. For example, how should we respond to a plea for material help from someone whom we may be enabling to become dependent on us (rather than God) if we give that help? So it is imperative that we actively seek God's will. Sometimes, the seeking will take very little time, and sometimes it may take quite a bit of time. That is why it is important to know God's word. The more we know what God has revealed through His word, the less time it will take to discern His will in a given situation.
First Corinthians 2:10–16 says, "For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 'For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." It is God who helps us understand His word. Galatians 5:16–18, 22–26 says, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. … But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." When we know God's word and keep in step with His Holy Spirit who resides in us, we are more apt to live the way Jesus would have us live.
In conclusion, WWJD looks like it is a good guide for our actions, but a much better question is, "What does Jesus want me to do now?" The latter question avoids the assumption that we can answer the question of what Jesus would do and truly seeks to know Jesus' will for us.
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