A Christian Portrait

I would like to paint the picture of "Christian". In the book Pilgrim's Progress, we have an allegory of the Christian life with a man named, "Christian". Like John Bunyan, author of the book, I want to paint a picture of this man on canvas, so we can see his qualities. Having such a picture, we see what to strive for in our lives.

What pigments is this man or woman made of? As he ventures through life, we should see the following:

(The first three involve comparing this world with the kingdom of God.)
A. Continual hunger/thirst for righteousness
B. Continual meekness/fear/trembling
C. Continual watchfulness

(The next three involve abiding with God. They are part of worshipping)
D. Continual prayer
E. Continual rejoicing
F. Continual peace

(The last three involve the Christian's relationship with other people.)
G. Continual patience
H. Continual love
I.   Continual grace

24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
John 4:24

Worshipping isn't just something we do in a church service. Worship is lived out in our fellowship with the Lord. If we don't deal with the aspects of our fallen nature, to which the Holy Spirit calls us, we can't pass on to a worshipping of God in truth. Sure, we can partake in lively worship services with arms raised in praise and enjoy a happy feeling, but this isn't the real worship God desires. This is a worship void of the truth of cleansing our hands and going before Him clean. I saw a missionary on furlough who lied and persecuted his neighbor, then appeared in church praising God with hands upraised and a big smile of joy on his face. Do you think this worship is acceptable before God?

9 O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.
Psalm 96:9

First, we worship a holy God, and that's beautiful. Second, since He's a holy God, we must approach Him clothed in that same beauty of holiness. The worship of hypocrites is a stench in His nostrils. This gives us a reason for knowing what "Christian's" portrait should be like.


6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.    Matthew 5:6

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 
   Matthew 6:33

It all starts here. The foundation canvas for our picture. If there isn't this survival instinct desire, there won't be a foundation upon which to begin the painting. Go without eating or drinking for a day or two, and you'll know the passion of desire. This same desire for righteousness has to be there. It's not only the beginning, it never ceases to continue. If it does, then apostacy of heart begins. If you remove the canvas the painting of "Christian" is on, the paint has no where to lay.


2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
   Ephesians 4:2

2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.   
Titus 3:2

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
                    1 Peter 3:15

11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.               

 Psalms 2:11

7 But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.   
Psalms 5:7

9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.   
Psalms 34:9

1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.   
2 Corinthians 7:1

11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 
Psalms 2:11

2,3 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
                   1 Corinthians 2:2,3

12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
                              Philippians 2:12

The state of meekness, fear and trembling can be summed up in one word - humble. Only by realizing our inability to walk holy, can we begin to see the victorious Christian life. When we realize we're weak, so fall upon God's grace, are we able to have the Spirit of Christ dwell in us in righteousness. When we're strong in our own confidence, then we're ready to tumble and fall. Self- confidence is dangerous. Remember:

6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.           
    Isaiah 64:6

The best we can do is the production of dirty rags to God. We may be proud of them, but before God they're garbage. When we realize this, our heart will take on the state of meekness, fear and trembling.


41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
            Matthew 26:41

13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.   
1 Corinthians 16:13

2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;   
Colossians 4:2

7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.   
1 Peter 4:7

3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.   
 Revelation 3:3

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.  
 1 Corinthians 10:12

33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.    
1 Corinthians 15:33

Watchfulness and prayer go together. To be watchful demands calling upon God in prayer. What is watchfulness for? To keep our eyes open, so we don't lose the state of sections A & B. We're at war and located in hostile territory. What would you do if you were in the Vietnam War and found yourself behind enemy lines? Only the stupid would neglect to take on a state of extreme precaution realizing what? YOUR LIFE IS AT STAKE! Remember, be a good soldier.

Question: What happens if we aren't diligent about the first three?
Answer: We don't attain to the second three.


36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.  
 Luke 21:36

17 Pray without ceasing.  
 1 Thessalonians 5:17

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.    
Matthew 6:6

Prayer's more than just formal petition. The last verse in Matthew was included to show prayer in a reference to formal petition. In comparison to the previous verses, we see there's a wider concept of prayer that includes more than the formal petition. Prayer includes communion with God. When I'm with my wife, we may walk along beside each other holding hands, but saying nothing in particular. We're together in fellowship. Our walk with God should be much like that. Yes, we make petitions, but don't stop there. Praise must always be pouring forth our love with joy and rejoicing before the one we love. If the joyful state of prayerful fellowship isn't alive and well, a serious condition has set in. What's more, the condition does manifest itself outwardly in our Christian testimony. Others will see just a prudish religious person with no joy. They won't desire to become a Christian from that.


4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.                  
 Philippians 4:4

16 Rejoice evermore.  
 1 Thessalonians 5:16

13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.   
1 Peter 4:13

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.  
 Matthew 5:12

15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.   
 Romans 12:15

This goes along with the prayer, for who else do we rejoice to but God? The rejoicing even comes in the face of suffering. This world's rejoicing can only be in the face of obvious causes. The rejoicing that comes from fellowship with God, rejoices in the face of suffering and lack of visual causes. It perplexes the world. They can see no rational cause. Only those who have truly tasted the Kingdom of God and know the Lord can understand.


3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.  
 Isaiah 26:3

6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.   
Romans 8:6

17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.                   
Romans 14:17

7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.                    
Philippians 4:7

A grumbling disposition is far from the peace of God. Being grouchy should flag us, we're not walking in the Spirit of God. This peace is beyond human explanation since it, like the rejoicing, comes out of a relationship with God. This relationship must be living. A purely calculated, intellectual religion gives no life. It's nothing more than an encyclopedia of information. God is about life and fruitfulness which issues in peace. When we see things that irritate us, (like the tube of toothpaste being rolled when you like it squashed flat), with the peace of God ruling in our hearts, we're not perturbed. This may sound strange, but the peace automatically regulates all our attitudes, even in the minor things.

Question: What happens if we obtain the first six?
Answer: We find ourselves able to live out the last three.
Part of the issue is, we must view ourselves properly. Doing that, we can approach God and grow with Him. With our relationship flourishing with God, we have in us what comes from Him to give to others. If we don't nourish this relationship with God first, our efforts to have His attitudes towards men will fail. A beautiful outline of this can be found 2 Peter:

2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
            2 Peter 1:2-11


14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.  
 1 Thessalonians 5:14

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,   
2 Timothy 2:24

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;                
Colossians 1:11

Patience speaks of need. If a person isn't trying, we have nothing to be patient about. Patience calls for an extension of love and mercy to those, who in some way, aren't running quite right. Patience speaks of gentleness and seeking how to reach those who need reaching. We can't reach people by losing our temper at them.
Finally, we have longsuffering joined with patience. We see being patient as enduring with a smile. The suffering a long time until we see progress is there, but joyfulness is also there. This joyfulness is evident to the person with whom we're patient, and it shows him our work with him isn't a burden to endure, but a labor of love and hope. This comes out of our relationship with God. As we walk with Him, we know Him and His ability to tackle any task, hence, hope. This again pictures that godly man on the canvas. The fruit of a living relationship with God.


31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.  
 Mark 12:31

10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.  
 Romans 13:10

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
  Philippians 1:9

12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:   
 1 Thessalonians 3:12

The man on the canvas is marked with a certain earnestness that's absent from the "hopeful" religious. What do I mean by this? Unfortunately, we see people who want to look like they're devout and love their neighbor, quickly cut their neighbor off. They have no burning desire to maintain the outreach of love. If you aren't quite like them, they're eager to say bye to you, and I mean for good. Love seeks to see the other grow in a relationship with God and prays for the other person.
The love we have with God, that springs out of our relationship with God, is like a plant with many flowers. Some of the flowers may blossom, but as you can see, there are still many more blossoms to bloom. This blooming doesn't just happen by chance or in spite of neglect. We must meditate on God's ways and increase in His wisdom to manifest this further blossoming. The loving saint doesn't just love the brethren only. He also focuses on the unbelievers, which takes us to the last item, grace:


22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.   
Proverbs 20:22

17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:   
Proverbs 24:17

29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.
            Proverbs 24:29

17 He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.                
   Proverbs 26:17

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.  
 Matthew 5:44-48

14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.            
   Romans 12:14

17a Recompense to no man evil for evil.   
 Romans 12:17a

13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;  
 Philippians 2:13-15

15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.    
1 Thessalonians 5:15

14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;   
Hebrews 12:14,15

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:  
 1 Peter 2:21-23

9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.     
            1 Peter 3:9-11

9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

             1 Peter 4:9

This is a touchy subject, and one I'm sure most people would rather just ignore. In a way, it's the crowning touch to the masterpiece that's being created on the canvas. This quality is probably more prominent to the rest of the world than any other. It also costs the most. Since there are quite a few verses listed here, I'm not going into detail with each, but allow me to strive for the essence. By the way, these aren't the only verses on the subject. You'll notice this quality of grace was expected in the Old Testament. It's not something new in the New Testament.
Take a look at our natural man: When someone does us wrong, we want vengeance. When those who persecute us fall into trouble, we rejoice. When someone mistreats us, we'll treat them the same in return. When we hear others talking about the shocking or bad news that happens to those we dislike, we love to listen in or add our two cents. Especially, if we hear someone bellyaching about a common problem person, we love to join with our complaint. If we respond to others with outward graciousness, but inwardly are seething, the root of bitterness can start springing up. These scriptures call for the saint to not have a murmuring heart. The inward seething over something has to mean the peace is absent.
These verses don't call for idiocy. We're definitely aware of the abuses the world hurls at us, whether intentionally or unintentionally. We can flee persecution and warn others to stay away from those that would hurt them. We even find Paul saying to Timothy:

14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:   
 2 Timothy 4:14

This verse may be hard to harmonize with those previously listed, but there's a balance. For one, Paul didn't take vengeance, but called on the Lord to do so. We see attitudes like this in the Psalms from David:

19 Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. 20 For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. 21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.    
Psalms 139:19-24

Maybe this Psalm gives us the clue to harmonizing. David composed the Psalms with the hand of God's Spirit upon him, and we find David summing up this Psalm with a cry of personal purity in his thoughts. David talked about perfect hatred and saw nothing inharmonious with godliness in this. The nature of the men David hated is clearly described and seems to match the description of Paul's Alexander. The enemy was someone or ones that were conscious enemies of God. They hate God and curse Him to his face, as the passage in Psalms shows.
Those who actively seek to destroy Christianity, we can and should seek that God will remove their opposition. If they refuse to repent, then may God render justice.
In light of these two passages, we also need to balance them with passages such as Steven's stoning:

59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.                   
Acts 7:59,60

We also have Jesus' example at His crucifixion:

34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.    
Luke 23:34

We've looked at the painting. We see a pleasant image before us. We literally see the image of Christ. If in doubt of something being the right behaviour, think of what the standard response of the average person in society would be. If your response is no different to the rest of the world, you can be fairly certain it's not the Christian response. The ways of Christ and the ways of the world are at opposition, so the responses will likewise be. The ways of Christ are both contemptible and revolting to the world. Enough of looking at the world. Look at Christ, see that portrait of the victorious Christian.

Let's see your face on that portrait!

Think of what's standard conduct of people in society in a variety of situations. Compare the attitudes of the world with that of the kingdom of God.

A.     Response to theft
B.     Response to slander
C.     Response to reviling
D.     Response to physical abuse

What flavors or pigments is the man or woman of the world made up of? As he ventures through life we see the following characteristics:

A.     Continual disdain of righteousness
B.     Continual self-sufficiency
C.     Continual carelessness

D.     Continual prayerlessness
E.     Continual jesting
F.     Continual activity

G.     Continual impatience
H.     Continual self-love
I.      Continual demand of rights

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Free to Copy under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND3.0 License by Darrell Farkas
All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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