Discipleship and Giving Up Everything

Jesus gave up EVERYTHING for us. Jesus also asked his disciples to give up EVERYTHING, even their families and they did. What does that mean for those that are “believers” that don’t give EVERYTHING? Jesus himself said, for those that don’t give EVERYTHING cannot be my disciple. I don’t know a single WELS believer or anyone from any denomination that has done this. Thanks and keep up the good work. I read Q & A often!


I understand your question to be referencing Luke 14:33 – “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”  If that verse were simply isolated and pulled out of context, it would look like we all need to live ascetic lives in order to be disciples of Christ.  However, the words at the beginning of the verse (“In the same way,”) instruct us to understand this verse in light of the verses that precede.

In the verses that precede, Jesus spoke to people about the difference between following him physically and following him in faith.  Following him in faith means putting him first and being ready to give up whatever interferes with that course of action.  In the preceding verses Jesus spoke of loving family members less than they love him (“hating” them in that sense).  He spoke of suffering in his name (carrying the cross).  He used the illustrations of a building project and a military campaign to highlight the high cost of following him.

With that background, Jesus gave the instruction in the verse you referenced.  When understood in context, it is not a command to live a life of poverty.  Scripture rather instructs us to use our possessions to support the work of the church (2 Corinthians 9:7 ), to provide for the needs of our family (1 Timothy 5:8), to pay taxes and support the government (Romans 13), and to help those in need (1 John 3:17).  When understood in context, Jesus’ instruction is a call to follow him in faith without being sidetracked by anything or anyone in this world.  With that understanding, now you do know believers who can be associated with this Bible passage!

(And thank you for your encouraging words.)

Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.