Exponential 2013 Main Session speaker Francis Chan says that before we can disciple others, we must know our heart’s true motivation. In this sneak peek from Chan’s upcoming book, Multiply (releasing Nov. 1), he challenges us to ask ourselves some tough questions to prepare us for carrying out Jesus’ commission.
Why do you want to make disciples? Have you ever asked yourself that question?
As followers of Jesus Christ, we should be focused on making disciples.
But if we don’t do it with the right motives, we are wasting our time. Worse yet, we could be doing more harm than good. Ministering to other people has been a deadly trap for seemingly godly people throughout the ages. If God cared only about outward appearances and religious activities, then any effort toward ministry would please Him.The Pharisees would have been heroes of the faith.
They were continuously engaged in ministry: they vigorously pursued outward demonstrations of godliness; they made sure the people around them kept themselves holy, and they diligently taught the law of God. And yet Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for these religious overachievers:
This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men (Matt. 15:8-9).
The Pharisees devoted their whole lives to religious activity. They must have seemed so impressive to the people around them. Yet Jesus came along and declared that it was all in vain! An important theme runs throughout Scripture: “The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). Clearly, God wants us to pursue certain actions, but as we put His commands into action, our motivation makes all the difference. God tells us repeatedly that He cares more about the heart than the externals.
Take a moment to examine your heart. In all honesty, why do you want to make disciples? Do you struggle with wanting your actions to be noticed by others?
Teaching Is Dangerous
Ask yourself again: Why do you want to make disciples?
Maybe you’ve always seen yourself as a leader. You have a message that the church needs to hear, and you’re ready to teach anyone who will listen. You don’t need motivation; you just want to be better equipped.
Remember that God wants us to be cautious as we lead. Remember that you will be teaching people about the Bible and guiding them into godly living. The Bible takes the role of a teacher very seriously, and so should we.
James gave us a terrifying warning about the power of the tongue. While we can speak truth and bring life to people, he warned that our words can also cause incredible damage. The tongue is untamable, James said, capable of diverting the direction of our lives, producing deadly poison, and “setting on fire the entire course of life” (James 3:6). Indeed, James even accused the tongue of being set on fire by hell!
If you look at your heart and find even a trace of desire for the glory and prestige that come through teaching and leading other people, take some time to let James’s warning sink in. Think about what your tongue is capable of. As a disciple maker, you could make a huge impact for the kingdom of God. Or you could lead people horribly astray.
Read James 3:1-12 and meditate on James’s warning. How do these powerful words affect you? How might you need to adjust your approach to making disciples?