We know multiplication is a desirable outcome, but not all multiplication is good. It’s possible to multiply bad things, and when it comes to multiplying disciples, I don’t believe God wants to multiply mediocrity.
We need to be disciples worth reproducing. When I think about that, the first Bible character that comes to my mind is Abraham. I think that makes sense, right, the man to whom the promise was given that his offspring would be as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore or the number of stars in the heavens, that makes sense. It’s interesting that on two occasions God tells us why he chose Abraham. On both occasions, he says that he chose Abraham because Abraham obeyed God.
We talked earlier about how obedience is the flip-side of love, that it’s the natural expression of love. If the great commandment is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, then the natural outcome of that kind of love will be immediate, radical, costly obedience, and we see this pattern in Abraham’s life.
So we’re first introduced to Abram as he was first called in Genesis 11. Some of the later verses, it talks about how he was with his father. They moved from Ur of the Chaldeans. We don’t know why they set out to go to Canaan and got as far as Heron and they stopped. They settled there and they stayed there until Abraham’s father died.
Then in chapter 12, God calls Abram, and he calls him to leave his family, his country, and his father’s household, and to go to a land that God will show him. So Abram is being called to leave the comforts and conveniences of city life to go wander around living in tents in the wilderness, to leave the security of his stable you know safe location to go out again and wander in a place where there is no security. It’s not comfortable. It’s not convenient. But Abram obeys … immediate, radical, costly obedience.
We see the same thing again in Genesis 17. This is where Abraham’s name is changed to Abraham. It’s when God gives him the sign of the covenant which is circumcision. Now apart from the obvious physical sacrifice involved in this, there’s also a serious security risk. We see later in Genesis where his great-grandchildren wipe out an entire tribe of people when all the men are circumcised on the same day. because they’re not able to defend themselves while they’re healing. But in Genesis 17, we’re told on the very day that God commanded him, Abraham circumcised himself and his son Ishmael and every male born in his household, and every male bought with his money … and then it repeats it for emphasis “on the very day God said to him” … immediate radical costly obedience.
We see the same thing in Genesis 21. By this time Isaac has been born, the son of the promise, and Ishmael, Hagar’s son, right, is the son of the bondwoman, is mocking Isaac. So, Sarah, Isaac’s mother, becomes upset and she tells Abraham to send away Hagar and Ishmael.
Scripture tells us the matter troubled Abraham greatly, because of his son. But God said to him, listen to the voice of your wife Sarah. It’s through Isaac that your seed will be named. I’ll care for Ishmael. I’ll also make him a mighty nation, but you need to send them away. So we’re told that Abraham rose early the next morning, gave them food, and a flask of water, and sent them away …. immediate radical costly obedience.
We see the same thing in Genesis 22. In this chapter, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. I cannot imagine this. I can think of so many possible responses Abraham could have had. He could have said, “Yes Lord, if you allow me to bring back Ishmael”, or “Yes Lord, as soon as you give me another son to replace Isaac”, or “Yes Lord, if Sarah agrees”.
But he didn’t say any of these things. Instead, we’re told again he rose early the next morning saddled his donkey loaded it with firewood and took his son Isaac and set out for the mountain where God told him he was to do this. Now we know that at the last moment God stopped him and provided a substitute sacrifice, the ram caught in the thicket. But Abraham didn’t know that. He was willing to obey with immediate, radical, costly, obedience. This son for whom he had waited a hundred years, his entire life, and all the promises of God were wrapped up in the life of this boy, yet he was willing to sacrifice him at God’s command.
Immediate radical costly obedience. This concept is also taught in “Spiritual Breathing is Hearing and Obeying God” in session 1 of the Zúme Training.
Now this to me again seems incomprehensible, but God desires this kind of immediate, radical, costly, obedience as an expression of our loving Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
I’m not saying God can’t use us if we don’t have that kind of love, but I am saying that if we have anything less, we must not be satisfied. We need to continually aspire to that kind of love, that indescribable kind of love. And I’m saying that that is the kind of love that God delights to multiply.
He told us twice, I chose Abraham because he obeys me. It’s because Abraham loved God.
More Multiplication Concepts
This concept is part of the “Multiplication Concepts” series by Curtis Sergeant. Consider working through the entire series and challenging someone you know to do it with you. See an entire list of the concepts in the article titled “Multiplication Concepts”.
This same concept is taught in the Zúme Training course using video animation and is translated into 40 languages. This concept is taught in “Spiritual Breathing is Hearing and Obeying God” in session 1 of the Zúme Training.
Zúme Training is an on-line and in-life learning experience designed for small groups who follow Jesus to learn how to obey His Great Commission and make disciples who multiply.