We are called to follow Jesus Christ in holiness, which in turn requires self-denial. Today we look at 6 things disciples of Jesus should not seek after.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
Paul exhorts us in today’s passage to give ourselves over to God as a “living and holy sacrifice”. Living, to serve Him, and holy because God desires that we be holy.
Prior to knowing Christ, we were walking our own path. God has something different – and better – in mind for us.
We should not be surprised to hear there are things disciples of Jesus should not seek after. There is an expectation that as we follow Christ, our thinking and patterns for living will change. The closer we grow to Christ, the more we learn how to walk in His ways, which were not our former ways.
In no particular order, here are some examples of 6 things disciples of Jesus should not seek after.
We are not to Seek Wealth
Having wealth in itself is not evil. It is the pursuit of accumulating wealth that disciples of Jesus should be careful of. The Bible warns us that the love of money is at the “root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
Jesus famously says it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter God’s kingdom (Matthew 19:24).
Rather than pursue our own security through the pursuit of wealth, Jesus calls us to rely on God for our needs; to trust in His provision every day.
Jesus does not promise us comfort in this life. Having said that, there are sincere believers He has entrusted with much material wealth, and skills in creating wealth. There are also those who live in poverty.
Regardless of our station, Jesus wants all of us to be generous to others with whatever has been entrusted to us so that needs will be met. This was modeled for us in the early church (Acts 4:32-37).
Christ tells us to use wealth to “make friends” for the kingdom (Luke 16:9). We should use every resource God has given us to be generous with others and in so doing, open the door to introduce them to Jesus.
We are not to Seek Revenge
Believers are told not to seek out revenge (Romans 12:17-21). When Paul mentions this, he goes on to remind us instead that we are to love our enemies and provide for them if need be.
Revenge is the exact opposite of what Jesus calls us to do. The act of revenge flies directly in the face of loving our neighbor as ourselves.
The best antidote to seeking revenge is to have a heart of forgiveness towards others.
We are not to Seek Judgement
In much the same way disciples of Jesus should not pursue revenge, neither should we cast judgement on others.
Why? Because it isn’t our place to do so. Just as it is for God to avenge, it is for God to be our judge (Isaiah 33:22).
There are a few sinful acts in scripture we are warned that if we do them, they will bring back very specific and similar consequences back to us. Judging others is one of those acts (Luke 6:37).
We are not to Seek Position
In this world, there are people who will seek power and authority. For some, it is what they live for, and it is what they dedicate themselves to for their own reasons.
Jesus tells us that when we follow Him, this is not to be our pursuit. We are expected to clothe ourselves in humility, just as Jesus Himself did when He chose to come to earth as a man (Philippians 2:5-8).
The path Jesus expects of His disciples is to be a servant to one another (Matthew 20:25-28). This of course is the polar opposite of how the world tells us to “get ahead in life”. It is difficult to envision Jesus, God in human flesh, washing the disciple’s feet as a servant would. How can we do any different?
We are not to Seek Our Own Will
Every day in the life of a disciple represents another opportunity to choose Christ’s will over our own.
Our lives are to be dedicated to a daily surrender to Christ, to give up all rights to our own way. When we choose our own way, it typically doesn’t turn out well for us in the end.
The Bible repeatedly shows the disaster and consequences of doing what we want to do in the face of God’s known guidance. People like Samson, David, Jonah – when they chose their own will in contradiction to God’s decrees, they invited God’s severe discipline.
Thankfully, whenever we have done wrong, we can always rely on God’s promise to forgive and accept us when we turn back to Him in repentance (1 John 1:9).
We are not to Seek Self-Justification
Recognizing our sinful nature and accepting Christ as atonement for our sins does not completely inoculate us from potentially thinking how good we are at some point.
The Bible reminds us that our righteousness equates to filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). The key word being “our”. As believers, Christ’s righteousness covers us so that we can appear blameless before God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
We have a defeated sin nature, but it is still there, and will respond if we feed into it. One way we can feed into it is pride.
Jesus offers an illustration of two men who went to the temple to pray (Luke 18:10-14). The first prayed about how many good things he was doing, trying to justify himself. The second prayed for mercy because he recognized he was a sinner.
Jesus tells us it was the second man who went away justified before God.
We are to Seek Jesus
When we dig deeper, we are sure to find more than 6 things disciples of Jesus should not seek after. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. And thankfully, there is a way to keep this from being an exhausting list.
Once again, we are to submit ourselves as a “living and holy sacrifice” every day. When we pursue abiding with Christ, we will come to exhibit a life further away from the things we are talking about today.
As we stay connected to Jesus Christ, His fruit will be produced in our lives. The fruits of the Spirit that come from abiding with Christ are, unsurprisingly, the opposite of the things we have listed here as things disciples of Jesus should not seek after.
The difference between living in holiness and living in the struggle of our flesh is which one we spend more time feeding. Abide with Christ to sow into your spiritual nature, and your life will reap the rewards.
More verses about being a living and holy sacrifice: