Following Messiah: Two Basic Qualities

sand imageWhat does it require to be a follower of Messiah?

Being a follower of Messiah Yahushua [Christ Jesus] requires a great love for Him, and a devotion that surpasses our own personal and intimate loyalties. A follower of Messiah strongly desires to follow in Messiah’s steps, and to imitate His characteristics, especially His character quality of humility.

Messiah is worthy of our complete devotion and obedience. He has purchased our eternal redemption, by the sacrifice of His blood on the cross! Therefore those who honestly seek out and investigate the claims [the Good News] of Yahushua Messiah, will recognize His great lovingkindness for us. They will then give their life to the One who is the Creator of all things. (John 1:1-4,10; Psalms 33:6; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16-17; Revelation 4:11)

To become a follower of Yahushua Messiah is a great honour. It is an awesome calling with great rewards, both in this life and in the one to come! Yet, in this life, as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Saviour, we begin to learn the cost of following Messiah. Those who devote their life to Him, begin to learn what it means to face trials and tribulations.[1]

If We Desire to Follow Him

The real test of our devotion begins on a very personal level. Yahushua has told us:

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

In the above verse, the phrase ‘let him deny himself’ is not popular among half-hearted believers in Messiah. Lukewarm believers are not interested in denying themselves, nor in giving up anything that makes life difficult or uncomfortable.

But is this what Messiah did? Did He avoid difficulties and hardships? No, Messiah gave His all for our sake. His love was sacrificial to the point of death. He denied Himself in order to rescue each one of us. His sacrifice brought life and redemption to many!

Now, as His disciples, we will love Him and gladly follow Him. And with His help, we can begin walking in a newness of life that is self-less and liberating. With the grace and strength that Father offers, we will find that denying selfish-ness will be a big part of our life because every day we will be coming before Father, and presenting ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God (Romans 12:1-2).

This denying of self is part of our calling in Messiah. We lose our life for His sake, that we may find His abundant life! It is one of those bitter-sweet things that followers of Messiah embrace.[2] But denying of self will not even be possible unless we make a commitment to Yahushua.

When we commit our life to follow Yahushua, it is then that the heavenly Father, Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God], is very ready, and very willing to commit Himself to us, and to help us abundantly! When Yahuwah’s children commit their life to follow Him, then Father has promised to commit Himself to those who love Him with all their heart:

For the eyes of Yahuwah [the LORD] run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him [fully committed to Him] . (2Chronicles 16:9a)

The above verse is just one of many amazing and awesome promises for the children of Yahuwah who make a covenant commitment to Him, and to His Son, Yahushua Messiah. If we will think honestly about Father’s astonishing promises, then we would never refuse to follow Him wholeheartedly.

When we make that covenant commitment to Elohim [God], then we begin a life-long journey with Him, going from strength to strength, and from glory to glory. Our journey’s end is the salvation of our souls, and the entering into Yahuwah’s kingdom and His joy. This is an eternally worthwhile reward for those whose hearts are devoted and united in following the Saviour! We gladly determine to live a life of denying self, for the sake of pleasing Him, and showing forth His love and mercy to others.

So what are some tips for following Messiah?

Here are two, very basic, tips, or qualities, that I have learned, and have been helpful to me in following Messiah.

Be a Servant to Others

One very essential characteristic for those who desire to follow Yahushua Messiah, is to imitate His heart attitude of servanthood:

“… I [Yahushua] am among you as He that serves.” (Luke 22:27b)

At all times, our Saviour exhibited a heart attitude of serving others. He exhorted His followers to follow His example, and to “do as I have done” (John 13:15).prayer-group-with serving verse

Yahushua served those He was ‘among.’ This is an important clue for us. We need to be as a servant to those we are among. That means we will have a heart attitude of serving others on a very personal level — that is, serving those we are in relationship with, those we live with and interact with every day. It means having a servant’s heart among our family members, our loved ones and our friends. We need to begin to see ourselves as a servant.

Some may think that being a servant as a humiliating job. But that is far from the understanding that God has of servanthood.

The Holy Spirit is given to us to be our constant companion, and helper! This is being a servant to us!

Being a servant is also the way that Yahushua pleased His Father:

Yahushua made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, … Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him (Philippians 2:7-9)

Our Saviour accepted the role of a servant. He did the Father’s will by humbling Himself and serving others. This needs to be our heart attitude as followers of Messiah — serving those we are among.

A servant’s heart is willing to show mercy to others, and is willing to serve others, no matter how menial the help may be, no matter who may need our service.

As a follower of Messiah, we make it a practice of being a servant among those we are in relationship with. This is a lifelong practice of being merciful, and always seeking to be a servant. Our serving is our calling — to give to others as though we are giving to our Saviour.

Being a servant will mean breaking down our own will at times, in order to follow in Messiah’s footsteps, for He said “Not my will, but Your will, Father, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Throughout history, all the great men and women of God were servants, first and foremost! They denied themselves by serving their Master and Saviour in the calling He gave to them, and by serving those they were ‘among.’

A follower of Messiah will be an imitator of our Saviour’s heart attitude — to serve others.

Be Respectful of Others

Another very essential characteristic for followers of Messiah is to be respectful of others, and especially to those who are our authorities.

Respectful behaviour is so necessary as a follower of Messiah because it is a very intimate characteristic of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the ultimate gentleman! The Holy Spirit is not a bully in any way. The Holy Spirit will not disregard us, overlook us, insult us, boss us, or ignore us. The Holy Spirit will not violate our will. The Holy Spirit highly respects the authority of our choices, and yields to our wishes.man's respectful bow

This intimate quality of the Holy Spirit is, what I call, a very respectful humility. Whenever we encounter someone that possesses this respectful humility, we ought to be deeply moved because it is such a rare and noble quality. And, if we are honest, we will be convicted of our own arrogance when in the presence of this beautiful quality. [I have encountered only a few people who possess this very sweet spirit of genuine humility and honest respect for others.]

Respectful: A Lost Art

Being respectful seems to be a lost art in today’s culture. Lack of respect for others, and lack of training in how to be respectful, is a distinctive feature of the days of Noah and the days of Lot. The people of Noah’s day and of Lot’s day were very disrespectful, arrogant, and haughty.

We can get a glimpse into their behaviour by looking at the eighteen characteristics in 2Timothy 3:1-4, of the people living in the Last Days. This list gives us a very clear picture of what disrespectful behaviour looks like.

In the Last Days, men shall be. . .

  1. Lovers of their own selves,
  2. Covetous,
  3. Boasters,
  4. Proud,
  5. Blasphemers,
  6. Disobedient to parents,
  7. Unthankful,
  8. Unholy,
  9. Without natural affection,
  10. Trucebreakers,
  11. False accusers,
  12. Incontinent, (without self control)
  13. Fierce,
  14. Despisers of those that are good,
  15. Traitors,
  16. Heady, (reckless)
  17. Highminded, (puffed-up; conceited)
  18. Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (obeying our own lusts, instead of obeying His commandments)

Does this list accurately describe today’s culture?

Yes it does!

What would a corresponding list of respectful behaviour look like?

  1. Truly, and humbly, loving others
  2. Not greedy to acquire and possess things
  3. Quiet and discerning
  4. Humble
  5. Honourable
  6. Obedient to parents
  7. Thankful
  8. Holy
  9. Proper
  10. Trustworthy
  11. Honest
  12. Self-controlled
  13. Gentle
  14. Loving what is good
  15. Faithful
  16. Patient
  17. Modest
  18. Lover of God (obeying His commandments – John 14:15)

These kind of qualities are excellent, noble, honourable, and worthy of respect. Someone who seeks to possess such characteristics would be considered a very upright and respectable person! These qualities are very similar to the qualities of our heavenly Father:

  • Yahuwah Elohim [the LORD God], merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin … (Exodus 34:6-7)
  • Thy mercy, Yahuwah [the LORD], is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. (Psalms 36:5)
  • Yahuwah [the LORD] is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. (Psalms 103:8)
  • Gracious is Yahuwah [the LORD], and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. (Psalms 116:5)

Our Abba ‘Daddy’ Father is righteous, holy, merciful, gracious, faithful, and honourable, and He desires that His children should be as He is. If we desire to be a follower of Messiah, we will choose to learn what good and respectable behaviour is, and practice it.

Learning to Be Respectful

Learning to exhibit respect takes effort and determination. We must make a conscious decision to show honour where honour is due. And we especially need to be sensitive to understand the various authorities we relate to, and to show respect and honour to them.

Those in authority include our parents, our pastor, our spouse, our employer, our school teachers and professors, our elders, our home Bible study leader, and our church-school teacher. Authorities also include our landlord, our doctor, the managers and clerks, assistants and representatives, of businesses; they include city council members, mayors, governors, presidents, members of congress, judges, police officers, and sheriffs.

There are many more examples of those in authority, but the point is that, in order to live peaceably, and to remain in God’s favour, we need to show respect for all our authority figures. We need to also, show respect for the head of a household, no matter how small that household may be, because that household is that one’s domain.

Yahuwah Himself is very respectful of authority because He is the One who has established authorities:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1-2)

Yahuwah has appointed and established all authorities that exist! Therefore He Himself will not resist their authority, but will respect the authority they possess.

Tips for Being Respectful

So how can we learn to be respectful of others, just as our heavenly Father is respectful of us?

There are many ways to show respect of others, but here are nine tips that I have learned, often learned through hindsight, and the hard way!

  1. Do not be hasty to speak in the presence of our authority. (Ecclesiastics 5:2)
  2. Let our authority initiate the direction of the conversation.
  3. Be patient to listen carefully to our authority.
  4. If sitting is required, give the place of honour to our authority
  5. Have a willingness to speak less, and to hear more, and to receive advice from our authority.
  6. Let any disagreements be spoken with calmness and humility.
  7. Commit any unresolved disagreements to the Father for prayer, just as the prophet Daniel did (Daniel chapter 6).
  8. Communicate thoroughly in expressing our desire to do what pleases our authority.
  9. This last tip may surprise you: always dress neatly, modestly, tactful, and graceful. (Sloppy, immodest, and risqué clothing is, in reality, a form of rebellion.)

A follower of Messiah will seek to be kind and respectful to all others, and especially to those in authority.

Our Goal

As we seek to have a servant’s heart, and to respect our authorities, let us keep in mind one of our main goals as followers of Messiah:

Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

The above verse reminds us of our goal: to walk by faith, according to the Scriptures, so that we may please God!! It pleases and delights God, that we would deny ourselves, and make the efforts to serve others, and to show honour and respect to others, especially to authorities!

Let us therefore repent of any resistance to serving Messiah, or to serving others; and repent of any anger, resentment, or hatred toward our authorities. Let us instead be of a humble and forgiving heart!

Let us remember also, that ‘repent’ is not a dirty word. It is an action that is most pleasing to Yahuwah, an action that will result in His forgiveness of our sins:

  • Yahuwah [the LORD] is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite [bruised, humbled, sorrowful] spirit.” (Psalms 34:18)
  • “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite [bruised, humbled, sorrowful] and humble [lowly, cast down] spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15)
  • “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10)
  • Repent ye therefore [change your thinking], and be converted [turn, and change your actions], that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19)
  • “. . .Verily I say unto you, Except [unless] ye be converted [turn, and change your actions], and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Conclusion

These very basic tips on what is required in order to follow Messiah, are good reminders for many, and perhaps a “wake-up call” for some.

Of course, our hopes of following Messiah must always include acknowledging that without His help, we can do nothing!

There are many more things involved in following Messiah, such as the great importance of diligently studying and learning the Scriptures for ourselves; and of maintaining an intimate relationship with Abba ‘Daddy’ Father, by seeking Him in prayer often.

But for now, let us try to keep in mind these two essential qualities — of being a servant, and of being respectful. For these are two basic qualities necessary for following Messiah.

Footnotes:
[1] Mark 10:29-30; Acts 14:22; 1Thessalonians 3:4; 2Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 11:25; 1Peter 5:9; Revelation 7:14
[2] Philippians 1:27-30; Matthew 5:11-12;  2Timothy 2:12; Proverbs 27:7

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— Psalms 51:17

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