Part 2: Guarding Our Hearts as We Make Disciples

As I wrote in the previous post, we must actively guard our hearts as we make disciples of Jesus.  This is because we are imperfect people.  We make mistakes. Our motives drift. We get off course. One of the lessons I have learned the hard ways is that…

I must guard my heart against operating out of DUTY and NOT LOVE

The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:2 “…not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you.”

People are not projects or chores on a “to-do list.”.  

They are not labels. They are not things that need to be fixed.  People are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God. People are made in the image of God. People are made to be loved by us with the same love that is between the Father and the Son (John 17:26). 

This means that we must guard our heart against operating in any mode other than love when it comes to investing in people. Eugene Peterson said it like this, “No matter how right we are in what we believe about God, no matter how accurately we phrase our belief or how magnificently and persuasively we preach or write or declare it, if love does not shape the way we speak and act, we falsify the creed, we confess a lie. Believing without loving is what gives religion a bad name. Believing without loving destroys lives.” The love of God must be our basis and goal when making disciples of Jesus.

Here is the truth, people will catch on if they sense they are a “duty” or a “chore” or a “project”.  When this happens they will, at best, close themselves off and move on to someone else. At worst, they will become cynical and lose trust and walk away from God. I have met several people who have been hurt by the church and walked away for this very reason.

People will also know when they are being genuinely loved.  They know when someone is “laying down their life for his friends.” A close friend of mine recently said something like, “Because of all that I was going through, I did not like God very much. But then I found a group of people that I knew really loved me it changed everything.”  There is great power in the simplicity of love.

I believe that the Bible clearly shows that God’s design for disciple making is love (John 13:34-35, John 15:12-17), a love that willingly lays down it’s life. Peter says in chpt. 1 verse 22 to “love one another deeply and from the heart.” Even when he was mad, Paul’s mode of operation was love (2 Cor. 2:4).  

The reality is that if people do not believe that you genuinely love them then they will not be confident in sharing with you the deep things in their life. Which means they are not opening up the places in their heart where the Holy Spirit needs to move.

Here are some symptoms that indicate that you may be investing in people out of duty and not  love.

1. You have to squeeze them into your life.

2. You are not “with them” when you are with them.

3. It becomes too easy for you to neglect or cancel times of being together.

4. You do not think about them and pray for them unless you are with them.

To disciple out of love is to joyfully sacrifice your life so that Christ will be formed in them (2 Cor. 4).

Application thoughts:

• We can all only love so many people well. Ask for a loving heart and do not try to

disciple more people than you can love.

• Tell those that you are discipling that you love them.

• Ask those you are discipling how they receive and give love.  

(Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages is a great resource in understanding this topic)

• Whenever you read Scripture ask the question, 

“How can this lead me to love as Jesus loves?”

I pray that we would love well.d

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