The Big Sister

I was out walking with our dog, Jack, the other day. The air was cool but the sun was shining. I sat on a bench to soak in nature’s warmth while Jack was busy with sniffing pursuits. Nearby a mother and her two small children occupied another bench. The big sister was about five while the little one seemed to be not quite two.

I watched with pleasure as big sister was teaching little sister. “Here, hold my hand,” she directed the younger sibling who was slightly unsteady on her feet. Their mother smiled appreciatively. After a while the mother announced it was time to go back home. “Get your toys,” she directed. The big sister picked up a frisbee and handed it to her mother. She then took her little sister by the hand and led her towards a ball on the ground. “Pick up your ball,” she urged the little one who looked up as if trying to understand, but not quite getting it. “Here, I’ll show you,” said big sister as she picked up the ball, held it before her sister’s face, and then set it down again. “You try now,” she instructed the little one who bent down, picked up the ball, and handed it to big sister who praised her with, “What a big girl you are.” Big sister looked at her mother who beamed her approval. Little sister seemed oblivious to it all but it didn’t matter. Big sister would be there to continue to teach, instruct, and lead her onward.

That’s discipleship, I thought to myself as I watched the happy trio walk away. The very last words of Jesus, as He was ascending to return to His Father in Heaven, is recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Sometimes the mistake may be made that going to church makes one a disciple. Disciples will go to church to fellowship, learn God’s Word, and praise God together with others, but going to church in itself does not make one a disciple. The definition of a student is one who learns, but a definition of a disciple is one who learns and copies. Jesus taught His disciples to learn His ways, copy those ways, and then teach others to do the same. It’s the — teaching someone else to do the same — where we often fall short.

There is great joy in leading someone to accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. The joy continues when we take time to teach that someone what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The baby Christian needs to be led and taught. It can be difficult to figure it out on one’s own. We need a teacher who can show us how to walk in God’s ways, how to grow spiritually strong, and how to use God’s Word as a mighty sword, understanding how sharp and powerful it is. (Hebrews 4:12-13) When we teach someone, then watch them do the same with another, it creates a holy domino effect. It’s powerful and full of joy, just like big sister teaching little sister.

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