“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
Some people use the phrase “What would Jesus do?” or “WWJD?” as a mantra to aid them in making the right decision. If they find themselves in a questionable scenario or having to make a moral decision, they ask themselves, “What would Jesus do if he were in my place?”
There are pros and cons to doing so. I think it is a clever way of quickly setting a moral standard for yourself prior to making a decision, which is great, but there are a few difficulties with this. One problem is that you’re setting yourself up against the utmost highest moral standard ever to walk the face of this earth as your starting point, which more often than not is going to result in failure. Another problem is that Jesus is God and we’re not, and any decisions He chooses to make in light of His infinite wisdom, sovereignty, and power, are decisions we neither have the authority nor liberty to make.
In addition to that, many of the people who use this phrase either don’t actually know what Jesus would do, or they fail to realize that they’re asking too late because Jesus would have never gotten Himself into that situation in the first place!
In order to make “WWJD?” a truly effective method of decision-making, it would require studying Jesus intimately from the very first to the very last page of Scripture to understand the fullness of His character, in order to properly apply a decision you would hypothesize He’d make on His own behalf.
That’s why I love this Colossians 3:17 verse, because for me it’s essentially a WWJD-type verse, but it doesn’t force me to put myself in the position of the God-Man to make it. Rather it puts me in the proper context of a created being that is striving to honor my Creator in all that I do.
The Apostle Paul is basically saying, “Whatever you say or do, do it in Jesus’ name while praising Him.” WWJD? is based on a guess of what Jesus would do in a circumstance, while I can practically apply Colossians 3:17 based on my actual relationship with Christ. It’s a verse applicable only to those who truly follow Jesus and desire to live a surrendered life to Him. This makes the subsequent decision I make more real and personal to me.
As someone who walks in fellowship with Jesus, can I truly say I’m gossiping about a person in Jesus’ name as I praise Him? Can I truly say I’m hardcore partying at a sketchy venue or getting smash-faced drunk in Jesus’ name as I praise Him? Can I say I’m cheating on my spouse or dishonoring my parents or abusing my children in Jesus’ name as I praise Him? Can I say I’m visiting an inappropriate website or indulging in paid content I didn’t pay for in Jesus’ name as I praise Him? Can I say I’m cutting corners or taking unethical allowances on my taxes in Jesus’ name as I praise Him?
You probably get my point… if the thing you’re doing or saying doesn’t bring honor and glory to Christ and can’t possibly be done in a way that reflects worship and praise to Him while doing it, then it’s either something that is detrimental and doesn’t benefit your relationship with Him, or it’s outright sin and is something you shouldn’t be doing at all.
This isn’t a fool-proof method by any means, as Satan and our deceitful hearts (Jer. 17:9) can take anything meant for good and twist it around to go against God’s will, but again for those Christians who sometimes struggle to determine if what they’re doing is right or wrong, this may be a good measuring stick. But the ultimate measuring stick will always be against the entirety of Scripture as led by His Holy Spirit, which is where we should be taking all of our questions to.
If you haven’t read all of Colossians chapter 3 lately, this is a good time to do so, as there are many valuable lessons that Paul gives in terms of living as a new creation in Christ that culminate into verse 17.
Whether you’re asking yourself, “What would Jesus do?” or “Can I do this in Jesus’ name?”, if you earnestly submit whatever you do as a form of praise and worship to God, then He will surely guide you as He transforms your mind, heart, and spirit!