The Disciplines and Motives

Read Mt 9.14-17, Mk 2.18-22, Lk 5.33-39

Mat 9.14 Then the disciples of John *came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

The Disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees want to know why Jesus’ disciples are not practicing the spiritual discipline of fasting. They considered fasting a key element to spirituality.

Jesus can always turn ritual into reality, religion into relationship. John’s disciples and the Pharisees had fallen into the trap of dead religion. They were practicing spiritual disciplines for the sake of the disciplines themselves rather than developing their relationship with God. They were, quite frankly, checking the blocks. Jesus draws the distinction between practicing a good spiritual discipline in the wrong way. Fasting, according to Jesus, is inappropriate when the one you desire to relate to is physically with you. It is a time of celebration and joy. As one would not put on sack cloth and ashes for a wedding, neither should one be fasting in the very presence of the Jesus. But there would come a time where fasting would be very appropriate, when the Bridegroom (Jesus) is taken away.

The principle for disciplemaking is quite clear. Jesus acknowledges that the disciplines are important but how and why they are practiced, are just as important. As we instruct young disciples on the practices of being in the Word, prayer, fellowship, sharing the faith, worship, and yes, even fasting, we need to add instruction on the importance of the objective of the discipline. To have a Quiet Time for the sake of just having one or to be able to share some finding with another is not the intended affect (although this may be where a person begins). Ultimately, all spiritual disciplines should lead us to loving God and loving people. Anything less is to completely miss the purpose of the disciplines and to fall into the same trap as the Pharisees.

This is a very tricky area for the disciplemaker. We are venturing into the very murky waters of motives. Some would completely throw the disciplines out because they are being practiced for the wrong reasons. This is like never going outside because you got sunburned once. In my opinion this is as dangerous as practicing the disciplines with bad motives. The young disciple may now be completely cut off from the very source that is able to transform their motives (example – Heb 4.12). On the other hand, if a disciple is not called into accountability as to why they are practicing the disciplines (which Jesus did all the time), then they are practicing all for not (example – Jn 5.39). This is why disciplemaking is a process of helping people become like Jesus and not a six week program. It is a growth process of transformation into Christ’s likeness and not just practicing spiritual disciplines. FJ60

Tips for helping people practice the disciplines for the right reason:
· Pray for them
· Share not only the How but the Why
· Don’t keep count (verses memorized, minutes in prayer, times read the Bible)
· Ask the person why they practice the disciplines
· Watch for spiritual pride and confront it
· Set the example
· Share your own short comings in the area
· Recognize that the disciple is in process (Motives mature as well)

For questions or comments drop me a line at or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend…

Author: Chuck & Deb

Chuck & Deb love Jesus!

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