Written by: Bill Elliff
Our one great, compelling command from our King is to “make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). There are no options here. If our ministry is not leading people to Jesus and growing them into obedient, multiplying followers—in whatever measure and sphere God allows—then we are missing the mark.
But what kind of Christ-followers are we seeking to build? Paul was very clear about this as he wrote his first letter to his young protégé, Timothy. Some of the leaders around him were teaching all kinds of strange doctrines that did not further “the administration of God by faith” and in the end were “fruitless” (1 Timothy 1:4,6). How would you like that evaluation of your ministry?
THE GOAL IS LOVE
Paul didn’t want Timothy to waste time and energy, but to be laser-focused on what he was to build into the lives of those entrusted to him.
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5)
“When you disciple men,” Paul was saying, “The endgame is always love.” Paul had already described this as the greatest thing in 1 Corinthians 13. He was following HIS mentor, Jesus, who said that the chief goal of life was love in two directions—vertically and horizontally with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.
This love is not a static noun, but an active verb. We should be developing disciples who are deeply, fervently, visibly in love with Jesus and people. Such love is not academic, but experiential and pushes all of life in the right direction.
But Paul knew that to help our disciples we must understand what will short-circuit a full experience of God and His love. So he instructs Timothy about the focus areas of discipleship that unleash God’s love.
A PURE HEART
To be pure means there is no admixture. Nothing that is polluting our heart’s affections. Part of our ministry is to help ourselves and others discover all other gods to which we are giving our love. We are to show the fruitlessness of idolatry and the value of not being “led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Is your heart and the hearts of those you’re leading loving God from an increasing purity? Is there any idol that you love more than Him? That you daily chose above Him?
A GOOD CONSCIENCE
Our conscience is that part of us with which we know ourselves. To have a good conscience means that, to the best of our knowledge, there is no wrong that we have done against God or man that we have not sought, to the best of our ability, to make right. Paul consistently sought for his conscience to be clear (Acts 24:16)
If we are harboring secret sins against God or man it clouds life. It obscures Jesus and taints our relationship with others. If we want to experience real love, we must be ruthlessly honest as God examines us.
When we feel out of sorts spiritually or emotionally it is almost always because there is some sin God is graciously seeking to identify and remove from our lives. When we cooperate with Him fully and the rocks of sin our removed, the stream of our conscience runs clear and our passion for God runs deep and unobstructed.
Is your conscience clear in your life and the lives of those you lead? Is there “nothing between your soul and the Savior?” Is the roof off and are the walls down between you and God and man?
A SINCERE FAITH
An unfeigned faith is a dependency upon God that is not fake, but genuine, authentic, active, sincere. It’s REAL.
Many professing believers are filled with a hypocritical faith. They talk about their dependency upon God, but their lives show little abandonment to His will and dependency upon His power and promises.
A sold-out depender on Jesus has a reality about their faith. They’re really believing, really trusting all the time. The result is that they are really loving Jesus more and more and more as they watch Him work.
Is your faith real and active in your life and the lives of those you’re discipling? Is it so authentic that God is constantly shown to be a mighty prayer-hearing God? A God that can be trusted with every moment of the common day?
“An unexamined life is not worth living,” Plato said. At the end of our days all our work will be tested by fire. The wood, hay, and stubble of our ministries will vanish. The only remaining fruit will be those disciples who love God from a pure heart a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
(copyright Bill Elliff, All Rights Reserved)
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.