The following is an excerpt from the new Multiply Material concerning our motive for making disciples:
Why do you want to make disciples?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? The answer is incredibly important.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we should be focused on making disciples. But if we don’t do it with the right motives, we are wasting our time. Worse yet, we could be doing more harm than good. Ministering to other people has been a deadly trap for seemingly godly people throughout the ages. If God cared only about outward appearances and religious activities, then any effort toward ministry would please Him. But God tells us repeatedly that He cares more about the heart than the externals.
If God cared only about religious activities, then the Pharisees would have been heroes of the faith. They were continuously engaged in ministry: they vigorously pursued outward demonstrations of godliness; they made sure the people around them kept themselves holy, and they diligently taught the law of God. And yet the Gospels present the Pharisees as villains. Jesus’s harshest words were reserved for these religious overachievers:
This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. (Matt. 15:8–9)
The Pharisees devoted their whole lives to religious activity. They must have seemed so impressive to the people around them. Yet Jesus came along and declared that it was all in vain! An important theme that runs throughout Scripture is this: “The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart“ (1 Sam. 16:7). Clearly, God wants us to pursue certain actions, but as we put God’s commands into action, our motivation makes all the difference.” (39-40)
Making disciples is obviously a good thing, and we should desire to obey God in this matter. But as Francis Chan and Mark Beuving point out above, our motives for doing so must be right.
Everything we do in service to God should be done out of love for Him and a love for others (Matt 22:36-40). Making disciples isn’t a way of earning God’s favor or getting another notch on your spiritual belt. It is the fruit of knowing, trusting, and loving the God who has revealed Himself supremely in Jesus Christ. To be sure, this won’t always be easy, nor will we always “feel” like doing it; Satan, sin, and selfishness still seek to pull us away from doing God’s will. But at the end of the day, disciples of Jesus should desire to see others come to know and love our great Savior. And Christ has promised to be with us in this task (Matt 28:20).
Good news: the Multiply discipleship material is now posted online. And it’s FREE! Go here to view or download the material. (Starting in November, you’ll be able to purchase the discipleship material in book form if you would like. See more about that here).