2 Corinthians 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?
Anyone who knows me will know that when I put something together, I had better test whatever it is before debuting it. An easy one to think about is when I put together my PowerPoint slides for my lessons. For the most part, I try to keep them simple with big, bold lettering. Anytime I decide that I want to “fancy” them up, I better test it out to see what it looks like before debuting it during a sermon. Another example of testing things is when I change the oil in my lawn mower. It may be because I try to be cautious so as not to blow up my engine but whenever I change the oil filter out, I put a little oil on the seal of the new oil filter, and then I will hand tighten it in place. My way of testing to make sure it is fully sealed is to pour just a little bit of oil in at a time before just downing a whole quart into the engine. I can assure you this, the one time I don’t follow my usual steps of changing my engine oil on my lawn mower, will be the day that I get engine oil all over everything.
What about our discipleship though? Why would we need to test our discipleship? How would someone go about testing their discipleship? First, we need to understand that a disciple is a learner and follower. In the testing of our discipleship, we do so in hopes of constantly improving ourselves. If we are completely honest with ourselves, then we will admit that we have not fully achieved what we need or our goal yet. Our goal is to go to heaven, but we are not there yet. Because we value going to heaven to spend eternity with God, we accept the fact that this is a lifelong commitment. Think about the kind of individual who thinks this way, “I am already in heaven! I am perfect in every way and need of nothing!” I believe the next thing this person would need to work on is their humility. That aside, I want to take a moment to consider a few options.
Luke 9:23 If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Self-denial, cross bearing, obedience?! What kind of religion is this?! Does God want me to suffer? Jesus suffered so I would not have to! Think about some of these questions and statements. If this is our attitude towards God, it doesn’t matter what Jesus has done. What needs to be taken from this verse is that this is completely voluntary. If one can “take up” his cross, then one can also do what? They can lay it down. Being a disciple of Christ requires one to make conscious decisions on what they will do with their lives. The purpose of the cross was to bring shame upon the individual. We need to suffer for Jesus because He did so for us.
Colossians 3:1-3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
This mindset or way of thinking is not just piling on additional things to do. It is changing the way we think. It is us creating a sense of awareness of what is, in fact, truly important. This is not an easy transition for everyone. The giving up of everything appears costly to those who feel that they have much more to give up. It’s no good trying to do Christianity by half-measures. The price of the Kingdom of Heaven is to give up everything to follow Christ. So, look at whatever is holding you back, whatever you’re not willing to part with, and ask yourself, “would I really trade eternal happiness with my Creator for this?”
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Paul did everything in his ministry because he received so much from Jesus. Whatever we think we are giving to Jesus, I can assure you that He gave us so much more. It is because of that; Paul was compelled to serve and love others. This should be our attitude. God freely gives us everything, therefore we should serve others freely.
“The apostles laboured much, but all their labour sprang from the impulse of the love of Jesus Christ. Just as Jacob toiled for Rachel solely out of love to her, so do true saints serve the Lord Jesus under the omnipotent constraint of love.” – Charles Spurgeon
Does your discipleship pass the test?
1 Thessalonians 5:21-23 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.