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Discipleship Effect Relationshipsby Duane Mabee on April 20, 2021
When we talk about what a Christian should look like, we must talk about his or her relationships. Being a disciple of Christ always changes our relationships. In the beatitudes listed in Matthew 5:3-12, Jesus gave four relational characteristics that must characterize His disciples. In Spiritual Discipleship by J. Oswald Sanders, these characteristics are described as follows.
A disciple must be compassionate, v. 7. Blessed are the merciful. Mercy is the ability to enter someone else’s situation and be sympathetic even though the person doesn’t deserve it. In fact, mercy can only be given to people who don’t deserve it. If they deserved it, it would be justice. Those who show mercy refuse to treat people the way they deserve to be treated. They treat them much better. To treat someone with mercy is to treat them the way we want to be treated after we have failed or sinned.
A disciple must have a pure heart, v. 8. The emphasis is on inward purity, not external respectability. A pure heart is unadulterated. There is no mixture of sin and selfishness. It is sincere and without hypocrisy. In other words, nothing is hidden. There are no secrets or secret agendas. What you see is really what you get. It is people like that who will see God.
A disciple must have a conciliatory spirit, v. 9. Real disciples bring peace into every situation they enter. They don’t just maintain the peace that exists. They create peace where peace has been broken. This is quite the opposite of those who stir up trouble and division with their tongues and actions.
A disciple must be unswervingly loyal to Christ, vv. 10-12. This is a hard attribute for us to accept. Jesus maintains that those who are persecuted because of their allegiance to Him will be blessed. Make no mistake, we will not receive any blessing if we are persecuted for being jerks. In that case, we deserve what we get. Sanders points out that for persecution to bring blessing, there are three conditions:
- It must be for righteousness’ sake, not a result of our angularity or fanaticism or tactlessness.
- The evil-speaking must have no basis in fact; it must not be the outcome of our sin or failure.
- It must be for Christ’s sake – suffering that arises from our consistent loyalty to Him.
If you want to test the quality of your discipleship, look carefully at the impact your faith is having on your relationships.