When making disciples as The Lord we need to realize that there is no set pattern or formula to producing healthy disciples from non-believers or nominal believers. However, The Lord did reveal through His ministry – His words and His actions – that discipling follows a number of principles or patterns. Yesterday I suggested that all discipling needs to touch a person’s heart, head, and hands. Today, let’s look at the heart.
The condition of a person’s heart determines the condition of their life. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” And as Jeremiah expressed it: “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) Of course, here the word “heart” means your spirit and not the physical pump that moves your blood through your body. Your spirit has ears, eyes, feelings, thoughts, and a will of its own. So, to disciple someone we need to engage their whole heart / spirit in the on-going journey of following Jesus.
Negative Example: The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law. “These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me … For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person.” (Matthew 15:8, 19-20)
Positive Example: David. “After removing Saul, He made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after My own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” (Acts 13:22) Again, an emphasis on the heart or the spirit of David.
If we are going to genuinely disciple people, we need to create an environment where God can get a hold of and continue to work on their hearts. This environment needs to be one where the person (disciple-in-the-making) feels unconditionally loved, totally accepted just as they are – questions and warts included – and forgiven. They need to feel safe in the process and safe with the one discipling them. Otherwise, they will not open their hearts and allow Jesus and you in.
Too much discipling today begins with transferring information to the head. It must start with allowing God an opportunity to change their heart and thus transform them from the inside-out and not the top-side (head) down.