A lot of things are written in the New Testament about the disciples of Jesus. They were those who were closest to Him and who followed Him wherever He went. The definition of a disciple is a “personal follower of Jesus.” Jesus tells us to “give up everything and follow Me.” Jesus is no longer here on earth in person, so how do I become a disciple of Jesus? How do I follow Him and live close to Him?
Luke 14:33 (NIV) says, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” So, the opposite is also true: He who does give up everything he has, can be His disciple. But how do I do that? Does that mean that I must sell everything I own here on earth and go live somewhere alone, without family or earthly goods? How do I give up everything that I have?
“Give up everything and follow Me”
I first need to know what I have, before I can give it up. I thought about all the things I own: I know I have them, but I could very easily lose it all in a fire or a disaster, so they can be taken away from me without me giving them up. What about family and friends? They can be taken away from me by something so small as a virus or an accident. if I only needed to give up my earthly goods, it would be easy to become a disciple. But I have met people who have sold everything and lived somewhere alone and they were very unhappy people – definitely not disciples of Jesus! So what exactly is it that Jesus wants me to give up so that I can follow Him? The only thing that is really mine that no one can take away from me, no matter what my outward situation is, is my thoughts and opinions.
I realise that I have a thought and opinion about everything! They can be very strong, no matter if I own much or little. In Isaiah 11:3 (EASY) it’s written about Jesus: “To obey the Lord will make him very happy. He will not judge people because of what he sees with his eyes. He will not judge them because of what he hears about them with his ears.” If Jesus did not judge by what He saw or heard, who do I think I am when I have a thought or opinion about everything I see and hear? Am I willing to give up my own opinions and listen to what Jesus has to say?
It could be that someone does or says something hurtful. My opinion might be to tell them what they did or said wrong. But when I give up my opinion and listen to my Master, who sees the heart and doesn’t judge by what is said or heard, maybe the thing that needs to be done, is to keep quiet. Maybe that person’s outburst is a result of an inner pain or suffering. Maybe what I need to do in this situation is to show love and patience. I cannot follow Jesus, who “went around doing good” and be His disciple without giving up my own ideas and opinions. Acts 10:38 (NIV).
Who is deciding what I will do?
It is one thing to understand that my thoughts and opinions about others are almost always wrong. But what about when it comes to my own life? Do I think I know what I need to become more like Jesus? Do I have my own plans and ideas for my life? Do I really know how much I can bear? Do I think I know where I want to be in five years, with my life? It doesn’t mean I should not have a plan or direction in life, but when things happen to me that I think is unfair or too difficult, am I willing to give up all that I have and know and think, so that I can become a disciple of Jesus? In Proverbs 16:9 (NCV) it says, “People may make plans in their minds, but the LORD decides what they will do.” So, do I really let God decide what I will do, even when I am planning my way?
We can learn something from Job, who “was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” Job 1:1 (ESV). We all know the many tragedies that came Job’s way and he still did not curse God. In Job 40:2 (NCV) God says, “Will the person who argues with the Almighty correct Him?” In chapter 42, Job did “repent in dust and ashes.” He never cursed God out loud throughout his sufferings, but it is very clear that he had his own thoughts and opinions about what happened to him or he wouldn’t have had anything to repent from. Do I see being unthankful or complaining about what God has allowed to happen to me in life as “arguing with the Almighty to correct Him”? Or do I repent in dust and ashes and give up my own ideas and thoughts so that I can follow Jesus and become His disciple? When I do give up my own thoughts and accept God’s thoughts for my life then I become happy and have peace deep within my heart.
The end planned by the Lord
Then I understood the verse in James 5:11 (NCV): “We say they are happy because they did not give up. You have heard about Job’s patience, and you know the Lord’s purpose for him in the end. You know the Lord is full of mercy and is kind.” Do I see the end of what the Lord has planned for me in my life through the situations He has brought my way? Do I see that the whole purpose of these outward situations is so I can learn to give up my own ideas and that I truly can become a disciple of Jesus and follow Him? Do I see that by doing this I become extremely happy no matter what my outward circumstances are? And that I don’t have to be afraid for the future anymore?
The only thing standing in the way of me becoming a disciple and becoming happy and always having peace inside is my own opinions and thoughts. If I do not give up these, I will never see the way Jesus went so that I can follow Him. In Matthew 16:24 (NLT) He says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” Now this verse becomes very real in my life. If I want to follow Jesus, I must give up my own thoughts and ideas. Once I do this, I see His kindness and mercy and that He truly does bring the very best my way. (Romans 8:28, EASY). Then I truly am a disciple of Jesus.