Discipleship is not a one-time decision; discipleship is a lifelong journey. Following Christ requires holiness, perseverance, and love for a lifetime.
But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (1 Timothy 6:11-14)
When we make the decision to follow Jesus Christ, we are accepting a call to a lifelong devotion to Him. We accept His gift of salvation that we cannot earn. But we are also making a commitment to turn from our own way and follow Jesus Christ every day.
We cannot work our way into Heaven, but we do have responsibilities. The mark of a true disciple is obedience. And not a one-time obedience of walking down an aisle or saying a prayer. Putting God on a shelf is not an option for a follower of Jesus Christ.
This is why He doesn’t say “anyone who wants to go to Heaven, just pray to me once and that will settle it for all time.” No, he tells us to count the extreme cost before deciding to follow Him (Luke 14:25-33).
Discipleship is a lifelong journey and requires much from us. Disciples of Jesus Christ are climbing a mountain whose peak will finally be seen in Heaven.
Today’s passage describes how discipleship is a journey in several different ways.
A Journey of Holiness
Jesus Christ expects us to turn away (repent) from our sin and pursue a life of holiness. In today’s passage Paul uses the phrase “righteousness and a godly life”.
Just as in many other aspects of our faith in Christ, there are resources God provides to lead us into holy living, and there is our responsibility in pursuing holiness (2 Corinthians 7:1).
As we put forth the effort to continue to abide with Christ through the disciplines of our faith, the Holy Spirit will work in us to grow us closer to Christ.
These disciplines – praying to God, reading the Bible, and fellowshipping with other believers – must be continuously engaged in for us to grow in holiness. There are a wide variety of creative ways to go about these 3 disciplines, which are essential to a vital life in Jesus Christ.
A Journey of Perseverance
Following Christ requires perseverance. Paul tells us to “fight the good fight” of our Christian faith.
Perseverance is developed as we go through various trials. We must remember that dealing with the trials of this life is an opportunity to exercise our faith (James 1:2-4).
Believers have to face the difficulties of this life just like any other human being does. Grief and sadness are natural emotional outcomes of that.
However, God also provides comfort in the midst of trials. One of the truths of our faith is that God never abandons us; if we stay focused on God and give Him our burdens, He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22).
We also have the advantage of the fruits of the spirit. An almost indescribable peace and joy can be ours even in the most trying of circumstances.
A Journey of Love
When we come around to love, we actually come around full circle in the journey of discipleship. Love is the way that Jesus Christ tells us to obey Him.
The two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and then to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Not only does Jesus tell us that all the “law and prophets” rest in these two commands, but if we look at all the commands of Jesus, they can also be traced back to these two commandments.
In today’s passage, Paul also uses the term “gentleness”. The human heart is so bent towards a human brand of rightness and justice that we sometimes try to convince ourselves that being harsh in God’s name is the loving thing to do.
Instead, we should strive to be more and more loving – truly loving – every single day. I love being around followers of Christ who wear their love for Him and others so easily that I can see Jesus in their eyes and on their faces.
Every one of us should be that way. I need to be that way. The good news is, discipleship is a lifelong journey. God willing, He has time to work on me.
More bible verses about the journey of discipleship:
Luke 14:27; John 8:31-32; John 13:35; Acts 2:42; Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 5:1-2