To live is Christ. (Philippians 1:21)
The Bible provides us with a variety of examples of those God used in His service—some as a discipline and some as a disciple. The difference is dramatic; one is desirable, the other is a dubious distinction.
In the Bible, to be used as a discipline is to serve as a warning to others, not to be like the person being disciplined; but to be used as a disciple is to serve as a witness to others, to be like that person in living life before the face of God.
The prophet Jeremiah tells us that God called Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, “my servant.” This pagan king served God, not as a sold-out disciple, but rather, as a severe discipline sent against the idolatry-racked nation of Israel. Nebuchadnezzar had no love for, or loyalty to God. During the time of his conquest of Israel, Nebuchadnezzar lived only for his own glory, not for the glory of the One True God, but the Lord used Nebuchadnezzar nonetheless as a source of discipline.
And then God’s hand of discipline rested on Nebuchadnezzar himself. One moment he was surveying the kingdom of Babylon, arrogantly congratulating himself, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30); the next moment he was living in the fields like a wild animal, eating grass instead of the sumptuous fare of the palace.
Throughout the history of Israel, God used many people and nations as instruments of discipline in His mighty right hand. It must be plain to us that it is not enough to simply be used by God. God uses everything and everyone to accomplish His divine purposes.
So how do we know if we are being used by God as a disciple rather than a discipline? We are disciples when our hearts beat for nothing smaller than the Lord Jesus Christ. When we can echo the apostle Paul in saying, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain,” and focus on living for Christ and dying to self, we can be sure we are being used as disciples of Jesus.
Paul lived to preach the Gospel to everyone, everywhere, from priests to philosophers . . . statesmen to slaves . . . Gentiles and Jews . . . men and women. Paul lived to advance the cause of God’s kingdom, not his own. Paul could say without a trace of arrogance, “Follow my example” (1 Corinthians 11:1) because he was a sold-out disciple following the example of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
How have you been living lately?
- Have you been pursuing the expansion of the kingdom of God . . . or your own little kingdom?
- Have you been serving your Savior . . . or yourself?
- Have you been seeking to accomplish God’s will . . . or your will?
- Who is sitting upon the throne of your life?
The answers to those questions will provide insight into whether God has been using you as a discipline or a disciple. To be sure, dying will be gain when we are received into glory. But until then, living for Christ is the key to living as a sold-out disciple.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!