I want to spend the next few weeks examining 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, to discover some key principles we can implement in our lives as we make disciples who make disciples.
This chapter in 1 Thessalonians explained that an effective disciplemaker ought to have the heart of a shepherd. Paul explained in detail what he and his coworkers felt and experienced, the things he did as a shepherd, and how the new believers responded. It is a shining example of how we ought to not only proclaim the gospel with our lips but also model the gospel by our manner of life.
We can have meaningful gospel-centered relationships as we make disciples when we apply these key principles taken from 1 Thessalonians 2
- Entrust the Gospel in Spite of Adversity.
For you yourselves know, brothers, that our visit with you was not without result. On the contrary, after we had previously suffered, and we were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition. For our exhortation didn’t come from error or impurity or an intent to deceive. (1 Thess. 2:1–3)
Paul and his coworkers endured much hardship, like beatings with rods and imprisonment, but still remained faithful (see Acts 16). It would have been easy to throw in the towel, but instead, they grew bolder in their efforts to share the gospel!
If you commit to sharing Christ and making disciples, it will cost you something and will require sacrifice at some level. You may not be beaten or imprisoned, but it will cost you things like time, money, convenience, and peace of mind at the very least. As someone has said, “Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.”
When we share the gospel “in spite of great opposition,” it becomes clear that we are pouring ourselves into the lives of others with the right motives, not with “impurity or an intent to deceive.”When we share the gospel “in spite of great opposition,” it becomes clear that we are pouring ourselves into the lives of others with the right motives, not with “impurity or an intent to deceive.” Click To Tweet
I’ll never forget the first time I met Ramon Hernandez. He stood about six feet tall, and he had a rugged build and jet-black hair. Ramon looked more like a wilderness outfitter than a missionary. Little did I know that would begin a rich gospel-centered relationship that would span the course of more than twenty years.
My team and I had driven to Texas from Louisiana the day before and met Ramon for breakfast. Ramon then helped us cross the border into Mexico and navigate our way through the military checkpoints.
I traveled with Pastor Ramon as we crossed the border and were on our way to the interior of Mexico. Although he spoke broken English, we were able to communicate. As we traveled, we talked about his heart for church planting and missions. It became obvious that Pastor Ramon was the real deal: the churches in his network were not only thriving but planting other churches!
He told us how he and his mission teams had suffered persecution for the sake of the gospel. They had been abused, mistreated, stoned, and driven out of town for their faith. Yet, in spite of the persecution, the churches they planted continued to grow and flourish. They were faithful to make disciples even in the midst of adversity.
Jesus knows that His followers will face opposition and tough times. But some of the greatest comforts to us are His words found in the Great Commission in Matthew 28. As we are making disciples, Jesus promised, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
- Entrust the Gospel with Integrity.
For our exhortation didn’t come from error or impurity or an intent to deceive. Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts. For we never used flattering speech, as you know, or had greedy motives—God is our witness—and we didn’t seek glory from people, either from you or from others. (1 Thess. 2:3–6)
Notice the integrity, godly character, and sincerity with which Paul and his partners ministered to these new believers. More than anything else, their desire was to please God, which they proved by their godly character and conduct. Paul and his ministry partners were not seeking the applause of men but the approval of God!
For twenty years, I had the privilege of doing campus-based ministry in south Louisiana. I was the Baptist Collegiate ministry director on the campus of Nicholls State University, where I worked with many college students who wanted to make a difference for the kingdom.
One such student was a young woman named Tara. Tara was one of many students who helped lay a foundation for the kind of ministry we desired to have on campus. Her manner of life was beyond reproach: she walked with God, shared her faith, mentored other young women, and had a gospel witness in the marching band.
Tara now leads a ministry in Houma, Louisiana, where she brings hope by sharing the light and life of Jesus with urban youth.
We must always remember to serve with integrity, no matter where we find ourselves. Serve God with a pure heart, for He is a God who sees past our actions into our motives. Make your life all about bringing glory to God, the only One worthy of all praise and glory.
The above is an excerpt from the book, “The Heart Of A Disciplemaker” Ch. 1 – Cultivating A Shepherd’s Heart by Tim LaFleur
The Heart of a Disciplemaker
The church has done a good job teaching people how to share their faith but it hasn’t done well at teaching them to share their lives.
There is no question Jesus commanded those who follow Him to make disciples. But what does that look like in everyday life? While most believers are clear that the Great Commission found in Matthew 28 calls us to make disciples, many simply don’t know how. Investing in the lives of others who will in turn invest themselves in others is not difficult, but it does require intentionality. Building authentic relationships that leave a legacy of Christ long past our lives should be the goal of every believer. To accomplish this we must answer the following questions:
• What do gospel-centered relationships look like?
• What character qualities must we develop to deepen our walk with Christ and with others?
• How can we develop a heart for making disciples?
In, The Heart of a Disciplemaker, Tim LaFleur provides practical answers to these questions and more. Drawing from the Scripture, and his own life as a disciplemaker, Tim clarifies what a life lived for the glory of God looks like. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, every disciple of Jesus can develop character qualities that will encourage others to follow Christ through meaningful, dynamic, gospel-centered relationships. Relationships that leave a legacy, not for our name, but for the One whose name is above all names: Jesus Christ.