Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Discipleship and Marlboro Cigarettes

Still on stuff found at Walmart.

For over 20 years I have been involved with making disciples through relationships. In that time I have encountered men who were ardent smokers.

Three men come to mind as I write this post. The first was an old friend whom I grew up with. The second was a business associate and the third was a man whom I met in church when he received the Lord. Each one was a smoker.

As I spent time with these men I would see them smoke their favorite brand (Marlboro) with no inhibitions. I made sure that while we shared about the things of God I did not focus on their smoking habit.

Whenever they asked me if there was anything wrong with smoking, my usual response was – the Bible does not say anything about it. What the Bible does say is that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and as such we should be good stewards of our bodies.

In other words if you know for certain that smoking was going to be harmful to your body you would do well to stay away from them. That means overeating unhealthy food is just as sinful as smoking.

While I presented this truth I never made a big deal about it. The reason why is simple: I was not after their external behavior. I was concerned with their hearts being drawn to God. I was convinced that if they loved God with all their hearts and obeyed His word they will one day get a revelation about their bodies being temples of the Holy Spirit.

Discipleship is never about external behavior but is achieved by first having a relationship with others and then introducing them into a personal, active, vibrant and daily relationship with God and with other believers. As they grow in those relationships they will willingly drop their sinful habits.

Today all 3 of these men are serving God and have hearts that are drawn to Him. My friend is now a lay pastor in the city of Cebu and is deeply involved in rescue and relief missions. My business associate has since become a full time pastor and is on his way to become a cross cultural missionary. And the man at church is a successful businessman who loves God and is a disciple maker himself. Non of them smoke cigarettes anymore.

Often I wonder what could have happened if I focused on getting these men to stop smoking rather teaching them to love God with all their hearts and love their neighbors as themselves?


chinkee said...

I agree! God always searches our heart motives rather than telling them what to do just teach them how to love Jesus.

Roe said...

Another great blog!

Stephen said...

Thank you Pastor Joey for sharing that one "naliwanagan ako". "Share the love of God and continue the discipleship and let God do the rest"