Summary: As we go about making disciples, what is our motivation? Why should we want to fulfill Jesus' call?
Let’s get to our passage. Turn over to Matthew 28. This passage might be pretty familiar to you, but that’s ok. When you get to Matthew 28, we’ll read verses 19-20. Pay attention to this passage…as it lays the foundation for what we’re studying today. Let’s read our passage for today…again, it’s Matthew 28:19-20.
It says: 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
So far in this series, we’ve looked at the description of a disciple… and the requirements of a disciple…so that we can work on being true disciples of Jesus ourselves before we take on Jesus’ commission for his followers. Then last week we focused on what disciple-making looked like back in scripture…and how it differs now. We need to get back to some of the principles of disciple-making that worked back then.
Now today, we’re going to take an inward look. We’re going to ask ourselves why we want to make disciples. What is our motivation? Now, for some…and this might even apply to you here this morning… you have no desire to make disciples. But if that’s the case, then that basically means you have no desire to be a Christian as Jesus has called you to be.
Then there are others…and maybe this better describes you here today…you know you need to make disciples but you’ve not been very productive. You have the wrong attitude or you barely try because you’re mostly doing it out of “obligation.” You’re the person who half-heartedly makes disciples because it’s what Jesus has told you to do. For you…as we’ll see this morning…going about disciple making with the wrong motives or the wrong reasons isn’t going to be very productive.
*In fact…you might do harm. Others are going to get the wrong idea of what it means to live for Jesus. If the disciples we make start out behind the eight-ball because we’ve not had the right motivation…then we’ve done them a disservice. Disciple-making with the right heart is vital to living out the commission that Jesus gave in our opening passage this morning.
**One of the biggest issues we run into when it comes to making disciples…as we’ve started to say this morning…is having the wrong heart. Meaning…our heart isn’t involved in it at all. It’s just about doing things for others to see. It’s disciple-making at its shallowest.
And even though the people we’re discipling to might not know that… the one who told us to make disciples does. We know that based on what God says to the prophet Samuel in the second half of 1 Samuel 16:7 which says: “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Sometimes our motivation in disciple-making is the outer actions.
But you might think…aren’t we supposed to show people how to live as a follower of Jesus? Faith without works is dead, isn’t it? They need to see the difference, right? Well…yes. All of those things are true. But for some people…some Christians…disciple-making has become mostly about what others see on the outside. And that’s not enough.
How do we know? Because of something that Jesus stressed time and time again throughout his ministry. One occasion comes from Matthew 15. Here, the Pharisees approach Jesus and ask him why his disciples break the traditions of the elders and exclaim that they don’t wash their hands before they eat.
So how does Jesus respond? He turns the tables on them, asking why they break the command of God for the sake of their own, human, manmade traditions. Then he says in verse 7: “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’”
The Pharisees and other teachers of the law were reeeeeally good at acting religious. But that’s all it was. It was just a bunch of lip service…a whole lotta action…but their hearts were far from the one who they were supposed to be living for.
So what the rest of the people thought was how they should live… they were being deceived. There were generations upon generations of people who had the wrong idea of what it meant to live for God. All because the ones who were showing them…were showing them nothing but a bunch of outer actions.
*And that’s what a lot of Christians are doing today. If they’re going to attempt to make disciples, they tell people what to do and they show them what to do. But all that comes across is the shell. And the result is an emptiness that never satisfies the disciple being made… and it definitely doesn’t satisfy God.