7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.…11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children… 17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire…. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
Hello again friends,
If you are a parent, you will definitely identify with this week’s devotional. If you are a follower of Jesus who desires to make disciples, you will likewise identify with the heart of Paul in this passage. What do a parent and a disciple maker have in common? They both (hopefully) love their children.
See, a person who has come to Jesus by faith, and truly embraced Him and His mission to make disciples of all nations, has been given love by Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Jesus said that the main characteristic of a true disciple of His would be a love for “the brethren” – fellow believers who make up the family of God (see John 13:34-35). This is a good time to check our hearts to see if we truly love the body of Christ, and the individual believers in our church and lives.
For young people in the faith, the Christian life may be all about them and their relationship with Jesus. As we mature in our faith, we still love Jesus, but realize that this new love we now possess must translate into action. The action that Jesus is looking for to witness to the world of His great love is that, in love, we would reach out to the world by making disciples. What does that mean? We tell others about Jesus and teach them to follow and obey Jesus, and make more disciples who follow Him (See 2Timothy 2:2). So, in a nutshell, maturing in Christ is not about becoming fat, couch potato Christians, who just feed themselves till Jesus comes back. Maturity means we grow up and have families of our own – spiritual sons and daughters – reproducing and multiplying in number so the family of God grows, as does the Kingdom of God. This is the mission of God – it’s all about expansion (Luke 13:18-20)!
Friends, this mission of expansion is no more evident than in the lives of Jesus’ disciples in the New Testament, who in cooperation with Holy Spirit, established churches – Jesus communities throughout the world – to teach followers of Christ to obey Jesus. In our text today, we have the foremost of all disciples – Paul – transformed by the love of God in Christ, embracing the mission to make more disciples. And what comes out the most in our text today is the HEART of a disciple maker – one who is filled with the love of God! Remember that Paul was actually Saul who persecuted Christians and despised the church. Now, since the love of God has been poured into his heart, Paul exemplifies how that love translates into making disciples:
Are you interested in being spiritual parents who establish communities of love where Jesus is central, lives are transformed and disciples released to serve Jesus in freedom and joy? Here is the formula: LOVE LIKE JESUS!
All of this translates into spending time, one-on-one with your disciple, teaching them to obey all that Jesus has said. Every child just wants time with their dad! Are we willing to invest time into others?
3. Finally, what is the heart of a disciple maker who lives by the love of God poured into their heart? This spiritual parent desires their spiritual child to make it to the finish line – that is – see Jesus face to face. When parent and child are apart, there is a longing to be together. Why? Because children bring parents great joy – especially those who have matured and are now living their God-given purpose (vs. 17-20).
Friends, this type of love and maturity we see in Paul is the product of a life surrendered to the purposes and will of Jesus to establish His church and Kingdom. This type of love is all a fruit of a life led by Holy Spirit. Paul is a model of a disciple maker who lives to see his spiritual children excel! Can we aspire to have the same heart as he does? It is possible to grow in this love. It is possible to become a follower of Jesus who actually wants to reproduce by raising spiritual children to be passionate followers of Jesus. It is possible to have a heart filled with God’s love for His spiritual family. God will give you a heart of love if you ask. I pray that God places someone on your heart right now that you can disciple and raise into spiritual maturity.
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