Treasure, Investment, & Discipleship
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
- 2007 Nov 09
The stock market is always a hot topic among contemporary Americans. Aside from those who are into day or swing trading or even those who have ventured into the world of forex, the average laborer is certainly concerned with his retirement plan. Of course, Christians are encouraged to be good stewards of God-given resources.
At the same time, the Scripture is also quite clear that earthly investments are not ultimate. The Lord Himself admonished the rich young ruler: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me (Matt. 19:21).” The call of Christ is not a subtle form of ascetic denial. Rather, in demanding self-denial, Christ promises a far greater reward: “treasure in heaven.” He promises something ultimate. Moreover, it was Jesus who said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6:19-21).” Note that treasure in heaven is unlike earthly treasure in that heavenly treasure is eternal. At the same time, there is a connection between treasure and heart: one’s heart will be drawn to that which he considers to be treasure.
Certainly Christ Himself is the supreme treasure. He Himself is the treasure in heaven promised to the rich young ruler. Additionally, the things that Christ treasures are also the things that Christians should treasure and indeed do treasure as they grow in grace.
The question then arises, “what does Christ treasure?” Undoubtedly, He treasures His own glory above all else. He prayed to the Father, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was (Jn. 17:5).” Further, Christ treasures His people. He came to save them from their sin (Matt. 1:21) and He expressed His activity toward and desire for them in the aforementioned prayer: “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them (Jn. 17:26).”
While other dynamics that Christ treasures could be elucidated, the two already mentioned are actually combined by Christ again in prayer: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world (Jn. 17:24).” Christ treasures His people so much that He wants them to be with Him and behold His glory. The implication is that nothing is greater to behold than His glory and He wants His people to see it. In beholding Christ’s glory, His people get ultimate joy and Christ gets more glory (not in the sense that one could add to His glory but in the sense that one can behold His glory and find joy in that glory). The implication in Christ getting more glory is that He treasures His glory.
Now, if Christ treasures the reality of His people giving glory to Him because He treasures them and His glory, then we should treasure the same. Thus, if one’s heart is where his treasure is then our hearts should long for Christ’s people to behold His glory. The resulting dynamic is a commitment to a new kind of investment: an investment in people and glory. That translates into an investment in biblical discipleship.
In his book, The Master Plan of Discipleship, Robert E. Coleman points out that in being disciple-makers, pastors are to be learners of Christ and are to make learners of Christ. "It shouldn't seem strange that the Master Teacher places such a high priority on discipling. After all, Jesus was simply asking His followers to do what He had done with them. That is why they could understand it. As they had freely received, now they were to transmit what they had learned to other seekers of truth. The mandate was the articulation of the rule by which Christ had directed His ministry. Though slow, and not accomplished without great sacrifice, He knew His way would succeed. For as individuals learn of Him and follow the pattern of His life they will invariably become disciplers, and as their disciples in turn do the same, someday through multiplication the world will come to know Him whom to know aright is life everlasting."
Among other things, making disciples the way Christ did will require an investment of time in the lives of people. In his book, The Deliberate Church, Mark Dever highlights the need for personal discipling relationships. Believers should meet regularly with others to do them good spiritually. One might simply invite another to lunch and over time suggest a book for mutual discussion on a regular basis. This simple effort often opens up other areas for dialogue, correction, encouragement, or prayer. The goal is to get to know a brother/sister and to love him/her in a uniquely Christian way. This dynamic is good for both the discipler and the discipled alike and serves to promote a growing community that is distinctively Christian in which people are loving one another beyond the way the world loves. Christians love one another as followers of Christ who are together seeking to apply the word of God to their lives.
Periodically, a group of men and I meet for breakfast for a period of weeks to engage in some study or go through a book that we might be edified and better equipped for ministry. Rarely does a day go by that I do not meet with someone in the church for lunch for the simple purpose of biblical fellowship that we might grow in grace. Afternoons are typically filled meeting couples or individuals for counseling and discipleship. We offer classes and small group discipleship opportunities throughout the week. The wonderful result is that many in the church are now doing these same types of things on their own. Early morning prayer meetings, couples meeting together, formal discipleship and counseling, informal discipleship and counseling at the local coffee shop, and a number of other dynamics should be the norm in a congregation.
The issue here is investment. An investment of time in the lives of others is indispensable. As a side note, it should be pointed out that an investment of time in the Scriptures is requisite as well. You can’t disciple others if you are not a growing disciple.
We are arguing for a new kind of investment here. Invest time in the word and invest time in others and you will be investing in the glory of Christ. Even if you have no more than an hour per week to invest in someone’s life, do it! Meet for breakfast, meet for coffee on your way home from work, or have a dinner meeting if you can work it in, but, work it in somehow. The dividends are eternal: treasure in heaven.
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