Summary: Today, we’re going to look at the heart of a disciple maker. It’s one thing to change a person’s behavior but quite another to change their heart.
The Heart of a Disciple
“Come, follow me.” When Jesus spoke those words to the Galilean fishermen, it changed the course of their lives. They dropped their nets and left everything and everyone behind. Over the course of the next three years, they grew in faith and obedience. Once overlooked and considered to be ill-suited to continue their rabbinic studies, when Jesus called they beame disciples of the rabbi Jesus. A disciple is someone who seeks to be like their teacher and do what their teacher does. So the disciples sought to be like Jesus and do what Jesus did make disciples. To send the point home, Jesus’ last words to his disciples were, “Go forth and make disciples…” making it clear that if you want to follow him, you have to be a disciple maker. If you aren’t a disciple maker, then you aren’t following Jesus. You may believe in him but you aren’t a disciple following him. It’s kind of like saying you’re a weightlifter but you never go to the gym or a truck driver but you don’t drive a truck.
Today, we’re going to look at the heart of a disciple maker. It’s one thing to change a person’s behavior but quite another to change their heart. In the very first sermon Jesus preached, he said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8 Jesus wanted his disciples to be pure in heart and that meant pure in motives. Jesus spent three years with the disciples, teaching them and mentoring them to act and think like he did. But just before Jesus started toward Jerusalem and the cross, two brothers who were disciples named James and John asked Jesus: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” Their request was to sit in the place of highest authority and power in the kingdom of God. One sees this and has to ask, “Why did the 12 really want to become disciples of Jesus?” That question is a heart matter.
In God’s eyes, following Jesus isn’t just about doing the right things because Jesus commands them, it’s also about having the right motives. If we don’t have the right motives, then we’re wasting our time. God tells us repeatedly that he cares more about the heart than our actions. If God only cared about religious activities, then the Pharisees who sought to fulfill the law perfectly would have lauded and praised for their efforts. Yet Jesus criticizes them because of their motives saying everything they did was for show. He goes on to say: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” (Matt. 15:8–9) From the outside looking in, the Pharisees must have been impressive to look at: their commitment, passion, zeal and attention to detail in following the law! But Jesus and God see them from a different perspective. “The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
So why do you want to be a disciple who makes disciples? For some of you, you’re still wrestling with the idea that to follow Jesus means to be a disciple maker. And so there may still be a question as to whether you really want to make disciples. The truth is most of us might call ourselves reluctant disciple makers. When we’re in that mindset, it’s so easy to go to default mode and make disciples out of obligation. “Well, Jesus commands it so I guess I just have to do it.” But when we do that, we miss out on the joy God wants us to have in doing his work. In Luke 15, Jesus shares three parables: the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son. Each story of the resulting joy of finding that which was found represents how God feels when one of His children return to him in faith. As the Shepard rejoices over the return of his lost sheep, and the woman over the return of her lost coin and the father over the return of his lost son, Jesus says, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” This is the joy that God wants us to experience as we are used by him and when we experience the Holy Spirit working through us when we share our faith and lead and mentor others to become followers of Jesus Christ.