"There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah"
2 Nephi 2:8 (The Book of Mormon)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The True Disciple

A disciple is a learner of a discipline.  As followers of the Savior, we are engaged in the discipline of becoming like the Father.  In Matthew chapters 6 and 7, Christ teaches us the qualities and characteristics which mark true disciples.  As you read today (or maybe over the next few days... this is a long one!)... I invite you to prayerfully consider where you can become more true in your discipleship. Heed the promptings you will receive and move forward making the necessary changes to follow Him more fully.   I testify that the only sure road to peace and joy in this life, and in the life to come, is the road of the disciple! 

True disciples do the right things for the right reasons.
Matthew 6
1- Take heed that ye do not your alms (acts of religious devotion) before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
4- That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
19- Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt...
20- But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...
21- For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

In The Sermon on the Mount the Savior teaches us the higher law.  Rather than focus on the actions, His focus is on the heart.  It is possible to do all of the right things and still have your heart removed far from Him.  His desire is to have our hearts set on Him knowing that good works will follow.  When we do any good thing in the hopes of being seen of men, or to gain glory in the sight of those around us, we are as the hypocrites.  It is interesting to note that the word hypocrite in this sermon is translated from the Greek word that means "play actor".  In other words, when our heart is set on the glory of man, rather than on the glory of God we are not true disciples.  As our eye becomes single to the glory of God, we value what He values and treasure what He treasures.  We lay up for ourselves everlasting treasure in heaven, which can be undone by no one but ourselves.  God delights to bless and honor those who bless and honor Him!

True disciples follow the Savior's example of prayer.
Matthew 6
7- But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do:  for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Here the Lord is teaching us that we should be sincere when we pray, truly speaking to our Father.  Think of the phrase "vain repetitions".  When we are vain, we are excessively concerned with our appearance.  Once again the Savior's focus here is on our heart or our motivation when we pray.  Are we more concerned with how we sound or appear, or in having sweet communion with our Father?  When I pray, I love to visualize myself kneeling at the feet of my loving Father.  I can feel His love and concern for me personally.  I know that if it is important to me... it is important to Him.  I strive to pour out my heart to Him in sincerity and then to listen, or feel for His response which comes as impressions to my mind and my heart.
8- Be not he therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask of him.
The Father knows my needs far better than I do.  Clearly, He doesn't ask us to pray because it benefits Him... but rather because the effort blesses us.  Prayer is a form of work through which our will can be brought into alignment with His.  As this happens we are able to receive of His richest blessings.
9- After this manner therefore pray ye:  Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name...
In the Lord's Prayer, Christ demonstrates for us the reverent language and tone of the disciple's prayer.  As we come to understand that God is our Father and that we are His literal children, sincere prayer becomes natural and instinctive. 

True disciples treat others kindly and fairly.
Matthew 7
12- Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:  for this is the law and the prophets.
Christ is the perfect example of how we should treat our fellowmen.  How can you tell if someone is truly converted to Jesus Christ? Paul teaches,
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
1 Corinthians 13:1
I believe that this is because charity is the fruit of a converted heart.  If you aren't feeling love and goodwill towards your fellowman, and aching to be a vehicle of His love... it is likely that something is amiss in your spiritual center.  The way a person treats others is the greatest evidence of how near their heart is drawn to God.

True disciples serve God and do His will.
Matthew 6
33- Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
To seek is defined as "going in search or quest of".  Why is it important to seek God and His will first before any temporal pursuit?  It is my experience that as I strive to prioritize my day according to His will everything falls into it's proper place.  Things that I mistakenly thought were important fall out of my life if it isn't part of His will and purpose for me.  My time becomes filled with pursuits which He knows will bring me the fullest joy.  I am able to invest my effort into becoming what He knows I can become.  I trust that for those who seek Him and embrace His will in their lives... He truly has glories in store which are yet unseen!  He is all-wise, all-knowing and perfectly loving.  What a gift it is to follow the Savior and draw near unto Him!

1 comment:

  1. Sunday I taught the course 16 year olds about this principle. Such wisdom in the Sermon on the mount. Reading over Matthew 6 and 7 gave me more reminders of what I need to do to be a disciple of Christ.


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