In John 1:35-51, we find Jesus calling his very first disciples. When meeting one disciple in particular – Nathanael – Jesus makes a surprising and bold declaration. He says, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Wow! What a statement. Jesus hasn’t even met Nathanael yet. But he knows him. He says that Nathanael is a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” kind of guy; that he is not a trickster, or a fraud, or a phony. He is an authentic man. He is a genuine person. The word “genuine” means: actual, real, sincere, and honest. So, when we say that someone is genuine, we are saying that they are the same person on the inside as their behavior indicates on the outside. Unfortunately, in our media driven, appearance oriented culture in America, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find genuine people. It is even more difficult to be a genuine person. In a culture of air brushed faces, mass marketing, false online identities, polished speeches, and personal branding – where everyone is working to present themselves as something other than who they really are – genuineness is becoming more and more rare.
A couple of days ago I was reading an article on leadership in Entrepreneur magazine. The title of the article immediately caught my eye – “10 Behaviors of Genuine People.” The article wasn’t a “Christian” article, yet the author – Steve Tobak – made some incredibly accurate observations. I have re-imagined a Christian version of his top 10 list to help you identify – in others and in yourself — how genuine gospel believing people behave.
Genuine people who rest in the gospel:
1) Don’t seek attention. They have a concept of reality that has God as the center of all things. They recognize and repent of arrogance and move toward seeking God’s fame instead of their own. While attention seekers have a hole that constantly needs to be filled, genuine people who rest in the gospel are continuously being filled by Christ’s love so they have no need for attention. Instead, they experience delight when Christ has the attention of others.
2) Are not concerned with being liked. The need to be liked comes from insecurity and a fear of rejection. Yet, those who rest in the gospel are learning to embrace the full, unearned, and unmerited acceptance that they have in Christ. They know that they will never be rejected by Him. This creates confidence and authenticity in them so they can simply be themselves. If you like them, fine. If not, that’s fine, too. Their sense of value does not rest in the opinions of others, it rests in the love of their Savior.
3) Can tell when others are full of it. Naïve folks can be easily fooled, but genuine people who rest in the gospel are not naïve. They’re grounded in the reality of their own sinful heart, a broken world, and a gracious God. This gives them a baseline from which they can tell when things don’t add up. They are able to detect phoniness. They know that all people are broken and sinful, so when someone will not admit that they are broken and sinful, their trust level of that person diminishes.
4) Are comfortable in their own skin. Genuine people who rest in the gospel don’t feel a need to impersonate someone else. Their shame is hidden in Christ and they know they are loved just as they are. So they can accept their own unique voice, particular quirks, and unusual idiosyncrasies.
5) Do what they say and say what they mean. They don’t tend to overreach or do more than they are able because they know their own limitations. Christ has shown them their strengths and weakness and they are able to embrace all these without arrogance or shame. As a result, they are able to discern the strengths and weaknesses in others, and they are able to speak to others about their strengths and weaknesses with loving authenticity, even when it’s hard for them say it, and hard for others to hear it.
6) Don’t need a lot of stuff. They are learning to be more completely satisfied with nothing but the love of Christ. So, they don’t need a lot of external stuff to be joyful. They know where to find happiness – in Christ, in loved ones, in simple play, simple work, and simple things – and this is their pursuit.
7) Are not thin-skinned. They don’t take themselves too seriously so they don’t take offense when none is intended. They know that that Christ is the center of reality, and that they are not. So, they get more irritated when Christ is defamed, than when they are criticized.
8) Are not overly boastful or overly modest. Since they’re confident that their strengths are given to them by Christ, they don’t need to brag about them. Likewise, they don’t need to exhibit false modesty. They know that humility is not thinking less of yourself, but forgetting about yourself altogether, and thinking more of Christ.
9) Are consistent. Genuine people who rest in Christ are often described as being weighty, solid, or substantial. They dismiss the motivation to please people and pursue the motivation of exalting Christ. They do not ride the roller coaster of seeking a high approval rating from others. Therefore they are consistent and predictable… in a good way.
10) Practice what they preach. They’re not likely to advise people to do something they wouldn’t do themselves. After all, genuine people who rest in the gospel know they’re no better than anyone else so they are not inclined to remain self-righteous. They are aware that they are messed up, arrogant, broken, and sinful; and that they need Christ more today than they did yesterday. So they preach the gospel of repentance and Christ dependence to themselves before they preach it to anyone else.
All of these seemingly different behaviors of genuine people who rest in the gospel have the same things at their core: They are Christ dependent, repent often, confess sin, admit weakness, make much of God’s fame, and embrace a common self-awareness that is rooted in reality.
It’s sad that, in today’s world, genuineness is at risk of becoming endangered and unappreciated, especially among Christians. Yet, as long as the gospel abides, and Christ continues to redeem sinful and broken people, we can remain confident that the quality of genuineness will not fade into the background. Why? Because in truth, no one can come to Christ without being genuine. In order to respond to the gospel, we must genuinely see Christ as he is – the Lord and Savior of the world, and we must genuinely see ourselves as we are – sinful and broken, and then we must genuinely cry out with the words of the tax collector in Luke 18:13, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.”
And so, may we who claim the name of Christ learn to be genuine people, who rest ourselves in the genuine gospel, to the glory of our most genuine and loving God.
* To read the original article “10 Behaviors of Genuine People” by Steve Tobak, click here: <http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/3ZgGJ6/:t7LhBrH+:GBo3RmNP/www.entrepreneur.com/article/243859