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Question and Answer

Charles Sheldon wrote the book In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do in 1896. While it continues to be a bestselling book, is it really possible to imitate Jesus in our lives?

In His Steps isn’t the only book that claims that it is possible—the Bible says this, too! “Whoever claims to live in him,” John says, “must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). The apostle Paul told us to be imitators of God, as dearly loved children (Eph. 5:1; 1 Thess. 2:14). Scripture reminds us that we aren’t asked to simply copy Christ; rather, we should live our lives in Him (Col. 2:6). With the indwelling of the Spirit of God, we are able to pay attention to the life of Christ in us and do what He wants us to do (Gal. 2:20).

I have a young friend who talks of many areas of service she wants to pursue, but she has never settled down to achieve any of them. She has so much potential—how can I encourage her to move forward?

I taught speech and English classes for many years—not full time, but just enough to realize how rewarding it can be. I often would say to a student, “You have potential!” To me, it was a term of encouragement. But then a student told me that he heard from someone else: “If Kellogg says you have potential, it is the kiss of death.” When I said, “You have potential!”, my student was hearing, “You aren’t good enough to be capable of speaking in public.”

Telling someone that they have potential, therefore, is not always an encouraging boost. Better to remind your friend that God has given her gifts and interests, and she should seek the wise counsel of others and the leading of the Spirit to determine what she should pursue (1 Cor. 14:1). If she does indeed have potential and she isn’t developing it by putting in some effort, then she is hiding her light under a bushel instead of bringing glory to God (Luke 8:16).

I’m a man in my late 20s, and I’m still single. I frequently get teased about being single. It’s not that I don’t want to get married; I just haven’t found the right person. The apostle Paul seems to think that there is a place for celibacy for some believers who have the gift of singleness. I’m not sure that’s me, but if that’s God’s plan for me, then it’s a good plan. How do I know whether this is God’s plan for me?

No one should be ridiculed for being single, especially not by other Christians. Some people have a clear sense of being called to singleness, but many others don’t have a specific calling but rather experience singleness as their situation in life, even if it’s not their choice. In 1 Corinthians 7, the apostle Paul noted that often single people have fewer responsibilities at home and so more time to devote to ministry (1 Cor. 7:32–34). A married couple might be tempted to forget their responsibilities to each other if they become too busy with other ministries.

But the clear testimony of Scripture is that God uses all people, whether single or married. All of us have an obligation to seek to serve the Lord, no matter our marital status (1 Cor. 7:17). And we should never belittle those who are in a different marital state than ourselves. Instead, we should value the gifts that God has given to each one.

In Romans 7, Paul talks about his struggle: when he wants to be good, he does just the opposite. Whenever I read this passage, I think that if Paul can’t live the kind of godly life he desires, how in the world can I? What he really wants to do he cannot, and what he hates doing, he does anyway. This doesn’t inspire me! What am I supposed to do with this passage?

Paul isn’t the only person who has struggled with this. I confess this is something that some of us have struggled—and maybe still struggle with. But when you read Romans 7, you have to understand that for the most part the apostle Paul is describing the efforts of the people who are trying to live the good life on their own, without Christ.

While unbelievers are able to do some good things in their lives, they are still in bondage to the power of sin (Rom. 7:23). And no matter how much good they are able to do, they are still unable to do enough good to earn their salvation or please God in their own efforts (Rom. 3:10–18).

If you keep reading on to Romans 8, you will then find the apostle Paul describing a person who has been reborn through faith in Christ and who is now living in the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 7 is about a discouraging life of trying and failing to get it right, on your own terms, and still at the end of a day carrying a heavy burden. Romans 8 is about a changed person, a redeemed person, living to please Christ. Of course true believers can still find themselves struggling to resist sin and live for the Lord, but they should also experience times of seeing God’s power over sin made evident in their lives, and they should have times of great joy as they follow Christ (Rom. 8:9–10).

BY Mike Kellogg

Mike Kellogg worked with Moody Radio for more than 40 years, beginning in 1972. For many years he was the reader on Continued Story and began hosting Music Thru the Night in 1982. He also read the Today in the Word devotional for Moody Radio for many years. In July 2014, Mike retired from full-time radio. He is a graduate of Cedarville University, and has served as adjunct faculty in English and Speech Communications at Moody Bible Institute. He is married to Nancy, and they have 6 children and 16 grandchildren.