Summary: This message focues on the character trait of obedience.
Discipleship Part 3: Character Traits
This morning we will begin our exploration of character traits of a good disciple. A character trait is defined as that behavior that is typical of an individual or group. These behaviors for the most part are learned behaviors and that is why although we are all different, we can learn the traits necessary to be a good disciple. We can learn those behaviors patterns to situations that will enable us to always walk in a Christ-like manner.
Last week I spoke about the process that Jesus used to develop His disciples. I shared with you that there were disciples who had walked with Jesus and performed miracles just as Jesus had, but when they got offended and chose to no longer walk with Him. The twelve disciples that we are most familiar with made a different choice. They chose to stay with Jesus after the others departed. This morning we will begin looking at what made these disciples who they were. What were some of their character traits that we should also develop as disciples?
There were hundreds of people that followed Jesus as He traveled, but He chose twelve to be His apostles (authorized representatives). Jesus did not choose them because of their standing in society because when you examine their lives, you will discover that most did not have a “positive” standing in society. He did not choose them because of their faith because many times their faith failed them. He did not choose them because of their talents and abilities as none of them stood out as having anything special about them. The twelve that He chose had a diversity of backgrounds and life experiences but apparently they did not have any more leadership potential than those who were not chosen. The one characteristic that they all shared was their willingness to obey Jesus. So let’s come forward some 2000 years. We have also been given the Holy Spirit to enable us to carry out a specific role in the growth of the Church today. We should not disqualify ourselves from service to Christ because we do not have someone’s expected credentials or life experiences. Being a good disciple of Christ is simply a matter of following Jesus with a willing heart and being obedient to Him. This is the first character trait of a good disciple that we will examine this morning.
Obedience is the one character trait that separated the twelve disciples who stayed with Jesus from those who left Him. The twelve were willing to follow Him even though they did not understand everything that He was teaching them. These twelve men, after Jesus ascended into heaven, were filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to carry out specific roles in the growth of the early Church because they were obedient. Remember when Jesus ascended He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the fulfillment of the promise which God had promised them? Jesus told them where they were supposed to stay and that is what they did – they obeyed. Through their obedience, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to go out and evangelize the world. Their efforts led to us being right here this morning.
The bible is full of stories of individuals who had nothing special about them except their willingness to obey God. One for the most memorable stories about obedience in the Bible for me is found in First Samuel the fifteenth chapter. In this chapter Samuel talked with Saul about his disobedience. God had given Saul some very specific instructions relating to the Amalekites and Saul chose to do otherwise. Saul made the decision to alter God’s direction, to change what God had told him to do. God had directed him to kill everything, cattle included, but Saul chose not to. Saul justified his actions by telling Samuel that he had saved the best of the animals to sacrifice to God. Now here is something I want you to think about. Have you ever done something you knew you were not supposed to do but defended your actions by trying to put a positive spin on it? I mean really think about it. “I know you did not mean to steal the candy bar but you did it because you were hungry.” “I know you did not mean to take the car out joy riding and that you did go to the store and get the milk I asked you to get two weeks, but …” When I was disobedient, none of my excuses were ever good enough to justify the not obeying the rules. I mean do you really think stealing $50 is okay because you took $5 dollars of it and gave it in Church? Absolutely not and this is what Samuel told Saul.