Counting the Cost
“Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it? Lest haply, when he hath laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all that behold begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, as he goeth to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and asketh conditions of peace. So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27-33).
While many have promoted a false message of cheap grace which demands little from people, the true Gospel of Christ has always made great demands of those who would follow the Lord Jesus. We must turn away from the life we have lived and follow Jesus instead (1 John 2:3-6, 15-17). Jesus would have us renounce all that we have to follow Him (Luke 14:33). He would have us put Him and His purposes for our lives above our family, our friends, and even our own desires (Matthew 10:37-39).
Deciding about Christ is a monumental decision indeed! That is why Jesus expects us to count the cost. We need to consider ourselves and our future. What will become of us if we decide to follow Jesus? What if we decide against it?
If we decide to follow Jesus, then we are asked to renounce our own will and to submit entirely to God’s will. We must be willing to give up everything that we have, including our money, our family, and even our own lives, if Christ were to demand it (Matthew 10:37-39, 1 John 3:16). God would have us not only act like Jesus, but even think like Him: we would have to take every thought captive in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We would have to reckon ourselves as slaves of God (Romans 6:16-23). Persecution of some kind will come (Acts 14:22, 2 Timothy 3:2): we may lose friends, we may be mocked or insulted, or we may even be imprisoned, beaten, or killed for the name of Jesus Christ.
Yet the outcome of our decision and faithfulness is eternal life in the presence of God: gifts so wonderful that Paul is able to describe the life of Christian service as “light affliction” in comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17)! In this life, if we decide for Christ and are faithful to Him, we have the confidence of being in Christ’s Kingdom, never separated from His peace and love (Colossians 1:13, Romans 8:31-39, Philippians 4:7). God with us: what a comforting thought!
If we decide against Christ, and remain as we are, we might receive comfort in this life. We are not as likely to experience persecution. We are able to think for ourselves and act for ourselves in any way that we please.
While that may sound nice, the Bible reveals that in such a condition we are also separated from God and hostile toward Him (Romans 8:1-9). We stand condemned under the law of sin and death. The way we think is right leads to death (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25), and really turns us into slaves of sin (Romans 6:16-23). If we decide against Christ during our lives, we cannot expect or trust that God will hear us, and we are left alone, to our own devices, and certain death (cf. 1 Peter 3:10-12). If we continue in that state at death, we have little hope for salvation, and can only await the hell of fire: the outer darkness, where there is great suffering and pain (Matthew 8:12, 10:28).
Such is how we must count the cost. Shall we endure difficulty in this life and obtain standing before God here and hereafter? Shall we take comfort now and risk eternal damnation? The decision is not easy, yet it is a decision that we must make. We cannot put it off or pretend that it is not ours to make, for as long as we attempt to put off the decision, we really choose against Christ (cf. Acts 24:24-26).
Jesus’ Apostles were faced with a similar decision. After Jesus taught challenging truths, and many other disciples forsook Him, He wanted to know if the Twelve wanted to depart as well (John 6:67). We do well to consider Peter’s response to Jesus:
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and know that thou art the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).
Peter responded wisely. He knew his limitations; he did not deny that he had to wrestle with many of the things Jesus was saying. He would later abundantly prove that he did not have a full understanding of what Jesus was about (Matthew 16:21-23, 26:69-75). But he did not waver in his confidence that Jesus had the words of eternal life and was the Holy One of God.
And so it can be with us. Being a Christian is not easy, but it can be done. We may not understand everything that God teaches, but we pray that you at least understand that Jesus has the words of eternal life, and that if we seek to truly live, we must follow Him. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6); any other way is a myth and a delusional lie. Do not be left without God in your life. Do not continue to live without the encouragement of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Decide to serve Jesus Christ today!
Ethan R. Longhenry