veryone should know the list of things in which he or she needs improvement. You know those areas of life, which on a scale of 1-10 you rate a one or a two. Sometimes our deficiencies can cause problems in other parts of life.
For instance, I would get jealous of my father-in-law because if something needed fixing in my house, my wife would call him without even mentioning it to me. She learned rather early in our marriage that the way I fixed something went like this – spend an entire day trying to repair whatever it is, one way or another make it worse than when I started; all the while anger and frustration are growing by leaps and bounds, then, at last, giving up and going to buy a new one. She knew she could go through all I just mentioned or call her father and have the job completed within an hour.
Oh, how this would irritate me. I know it was my sinful pride getting the worst of me, but that is how I felt. Honestly, it made me feel less of a man.
As a Christian, I understood that all this anger, frustration, bitterness and the “less of a man” thing were not the attitudes God wanted me to have; so I went to Him for a solution. After all, He can fix anything.
When searching the heart of God for what type of man I should be, I decided to see what God had to say about particular people. There are dozens of great people in the Bible. Jesus, being God, is the ultimate example of course, but among us mere mortals, John the Baptist stands out. Jesus said about John, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist,” Matthew 11:11.
Having the understanding, that I would probably never measure up to the standing of Greatest Guy of All Time; I also knew I could learn a thing or two from The Baptist. It was time to look into the character of the man Jesus called The Greatest.
With John’s clothing made of leather and camel hair and his diet consisting of locust and wild honey (Matthew 3:4), it is not a stretch to claim John lived a life of self-denial. He did not need the best three-piece suit or even the best name brand jeans; all he needed and was satisfied with was clothing.
I am not sure what to call it – backbone, courage, guts. I reckon some would call it stupidity, but John stood up to authority that was in the wrong. He pointed out the sins of King Herod (Matthew 14:1-4) and called the religious leaders of the day “vipers” and openly told them of their need of repentance (Matthew 3:7).
At the baptism of Jesus, John did what Jesus told him to do even when he was not quite sure why (Matthew 3:13-15). John was a man of unfailing obedience to God.
As John traveled through the wilderness of Israel, he would preach. There is no record of The Baptist walking into a city or town and preaching to the crowds. However, the stories tell us about him preaching to multitudes as they came to him out in the wilderness. The people believed him and wondered if he was the Messiah, or possibly an old testament prophet brought back to life. Having tens of thousands mosey out into the desert for no other reason than that you are there, and seeing that many of them believe you could be the Savior could fill a man with pride; but not John. He repeatedly told people he was unworthy to untie the Savior’s shoes. He was only preparing the hearts of the people for the day, soon to come, when the Messiah would arrive (Mark 1:7-8; John 1:19-23). John the Baptist was a humble man.
King Herod feared John because he saw him as a holy man (Mark 6:20).
John also had a burning zeal to spread God’s Word that may be unparalleled in all of human history.
In summary, the man Jesus called the greatest of all, lived a life of self-denial, had some backbone, served God with unquestionable obedience, was a humble and holy man, and had the zeal to serve God above all else.
I reckon my inability to fix the toaster is immaterial, but there is another much more important list of characteristics needing work.
Preacher Tim Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Ind. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit preacherjohnson.com.