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Developing Christlike Attributes

While Paul was under house arrest in Rome, he sent epistles (letters) to the congregations in Asia to teach doctrine and give encouragement.  His epistles to the Philippians and the Colossians encourage the Saints to become true followers of Jesus Christ by emulating His attributes.  Another epistle encourages Philemon, a member of the Church in Colosse, to develop the attribute of forgiveness in emulation of the Savior.

Paul’s Obedience While Imprisoned Inspired Others

Paul was lifted somewhat in his circumstances by the knowledge that his courage during his incarceration actually inspired Saints who knew of it and helped them to be more bold in their missionary work in the name of Christ.  Because of this, and because of his growing renown in Rome, his imprisonment added to the success of the gospel throughout the empire.

In Philippians 1:23, 24, Paul shows his faith in the rewards of the afterlife.  He longs to move on from this coarse and troublesome earthly existence to heaven and Christ’s presence, but is willing to remain in mortality if it is a service to his fellow Christians:

For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

The Attributes of Christ: Humility and Sacrifice
Jesus Christ embracing a man and a quote about Christ-Like Attributes from Mary Cook.In Philippians 2 Paul speaks of being of one mind.  In Zion (a gathering of the pure in heart), the Saints see eye to eye.  Really, there are two reasons for this.  First, is that the Saints are so in tune with God through the Holy Spirit, that their point of view comes from the same source, abolishing divisiveness of opinion.  Second, they are so humble that none indulge in selfishness or prideful pursuits.  Paul calls this “vainglory.”  A person seeking vainglory seeks to exalt himself in the eyes of others, to lift himself above others by accruing honor to himself.  Wars are often fought for vainglory, and millions of lives lost or ruined to satisfy the pride of powerful men.  In Philippians 2:5–8 Paul reminds us of the attributes of Christ.  He was humble.  He was also obedient, even in the face of torture and death.

In Philippians 3:7–8 Paul says he has sacrificed all things for Christ.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.   Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

Sacrifice is an important principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is one of those works, along with repentance, that the Lord sees as a manifestation of our faith.  The Prophet Joseph Smith said the following:

A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things (Lectures on Faith [1985], 69).

God does not always demand of us the sacrifice of all earthly things, but He does know who would do it if asked.  We make personal leaps of faith all the time, as manifestations of our orientation toward Christ and not toward mammon.  The person who sacrifices hours of his or her time to serve others of Heavenly Father’s children; the person who pays a generous tithe or gives to the poor while living frugally him- or herself; the young person who drops everything to serve a Mormon mission ¾ all these are showing they value the things of Christ more than the things of the world.  To be exalted into Christ’s presence to dwell with Him forever requires turning all the way toward Him, having an eye single to His glory, without any distraction by the things of this world.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church, has thirteen Articles of Faith that summarize our beliefs.  The 13th Article of Faith comes directly from the counsel of Paul:

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

We Can Do All Things Through Christ

True humility is to realize that we of ourselves are nothing, but that we can do all things expedient for us and God’s other children through Christ.  In Philippians 4:13 Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  The grace of Christ not only gives us salvation in the eternities, but on a daily basis.  Grace is divine help, and we need it every day.

In Colossians 1 Paul teaches that we are saved through Christ. In it Paul teaches that redemption comes through Christ—He created all things, is in the image of God, and is the Firstborn of the Father.  The Saints in Colosse, a small city east of Ephesus, were being influenced by teachings that minimized the importance of the Savior and focused on attaining perfection by observing ordinances and worshiping angels. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul warned against these teachings, exhorting the Saints to continue to be “grounded and settled” (Colossians 1:23; see also Colossians 2:5–7) in the knowledge that redemption comes only through Jesus Christ. [1]

In Colossians 1:10 Paul speaks of other aspects of our important works on the earth.  People know us and are drawn to Christ by the fruits of our faith manifest in works:

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Christ Created All Things

In the Mormon scripture the Pearl of Great Price, we have more information on the revelations of Moses.  He saw God, and spoke with Him face to face, having been quickened by the Spirit.  God told Him He had created “worlds without number” through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Paul affirms:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Doctrine and Covenants (a collection of modern revelations) Section 88, Verse 41, says,

He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.

The Attributes of Christ

In Colossians 3:12-15 we find a list of some of the remarkable attributes of Christ:

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;  Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.   And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

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