Counting the Cost

Friday, February 20, 2015, 10:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 14:25-33 (NASB).

Following Jesus

Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

On a surface read this sounds pretty drastic, as well as contradictory to Jesus’ other teachings on how we must love others. So, when we come up against a passage of scripture which seems to contradict other scriptures, then we have to compare scripture with scripture, we have to read the passage in context, and we have to look at what other possible meaning could be gathered from the passage that would fit with the context. Above all, we must pray and ask the Spirit of God to guide us into all truth and to grant us wisdom and insight into what the passage is teaching us, because this is to be spiritually discerned.

So, what is the context? Jesus was teaching the crowds who were physically following him that if they truly wanted to be his followers, i.e. his disciples, that there is a cost to following him. What is the cost? They must hate their family members and even their own lives. Yet, since the second greatest commandment (of the two greatest) is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (See Matt. 22:36-40), I don’t believe Jesus is teaching that we should literally hate others or ourselves. So, what could he possibly mean? I believe Jesus’ words, as is recorded in Luke 9:23-25, help to shed light on this subject. This is where he said that if anyone would come after him he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow him. He said whoever tries to hold on to his own life will lose it for eternity, but whoever dies to his old life has eternal life. So, how does this help us with Luke 14?

I believe that to “hate” our family members and ourselves means to let go of them in the sense of not holding on to what we want for our own lives or what we hope to gain from those family relationships, because following Jesus means he is Lord and Master of our lives and he is now the one who calls the shots. When we truly follow him in this way, and we do his will, it may mean we will be rejected and even persecuted by our family members or that we will have to leave them to go where God wants us. So, we must consider our own lives and the lives of others as not our own to possess or to hold on to, and we must not seek to please ourselves or others, aside from pleasing God, or we may have divided hearts and loyalties, and we may end up choosing ourselves and/or our family members over God. Our Lord has to not only be in first place in our lives, but he must BE our life!

So, if we want to be a follower of Jesus Christ, which is what a Christian is, then we must give up our lives and what we want and lay it all down at Jesus’ feet, and we must go wherever he leads us to go, and to be and to do whatever it is he would have us to be and to do, even if it gets us rejected, persecuted or killed in return. We must trust in the absolute sovereignty of God over our lives, trusting that he knows what is best for us, and that he has a plan and a purpose for everything he allows in our lives. We must never compromise who God created us to be, or our faith, in order to please ourselves or others, but we must be sold out to God and to his kingdom work, even if it means leaving behind all that is familiar and secure to us. “All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give…”

Counting the Cost

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

So, now that we know what the cost is to following Jesus Christ with our lives, we must count the cost. So, how do we do that? Well, let me first talk about what happens when we don’t count the cost.

So many people today are teaching that coming to Christ merely means we pray a prayer to receive Christ and now we have the hope of heaven when we die, we are forgiven of our sins, and we won’t face eternal punishment in hell. And, that is where they leave it. Added to that, though, they teach that God is pleased with us no matter what we do and that he smiles on us even when we are sinning against him, because when he looks at us he only sees Jesus. So, what is wrong with this? It teaches that God requires nothing of us, and so it ignores all the teachings and instructions (commands) of Jesus Christ. It does not teach that we have to repent (turn from our sins), that we have to die to living for sin and self, that we must be changed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and that we are now given new lives in Christ Jesus to be lived in the power of the Spirit in walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to our flesh.

So, what happens then is that the “follower” is not really a follower of Christ because he is still holding on to his old flesh, because he was never required to give it up. It means he continues to live pretty much the way he did before, except he may begin to clean up a few things in his life and to attend church services regularly. It means he has not ceased to be conformed to the patterns of this sinful world, and so he has not really been transformed in the renewing of his mind. He still does what he wants to do, for the most part, only now God is included in some of the things he does, or so he thinks. Yet, what he has been given is a false hope absent of true grace, for God’s grace teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for Christ’s return. Jesus did not die to give us free license to continue in willful sin without guilt and without remorse. He died to free us from slavery to sin, and to purify for himself a people eager to do what is good (See Tit. 2:11-14).

Now, the person may have genuinely repented of his sin and he may have been born of the Spirit of God, but not taught the cost of following Christ, and so he remains an immature believer until he learns that following Christ means letting go of everything on this earth. As well, we don’t get perfect at this immediately. We are always growing and learning. I know I am. The Lord Jesus is still perfecting me in this area of letting go of what I want and laying it all at his feet, and letting God have his way in my life, even when it hurts like crazy sometimes. Yet, Jesus made it quite clear that if we don’t lay it all down to follow him that we cannot be his disciples. Not one of us will do this perfectly all the time so what does this mean? I believe it goes to the subject of lifestyle and submission to Christ. If we just pray a prayer and think we now have our ticket into heaven but that nothing is required of us and so we continue to live pretty much as we did before, we are in danger of hearing Jesus say to us one day, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

So, how do we count the cost? First of all we need to know what the cost is so that we can count it, and then we need to decide if we are willing to lay it all down and to go with God or if we still want to hold on to our own lives and continue to be our own boss. If we choose the latter, scripture teaches that we don’t really know God and he doesn’t really know us. So, make sure you really know him today, because your life depends on it. Give your all to Jesus, nothing held back. Let him have his way in your life. Surrender all to him, and be willing to be, to say, to do and to go with him according to his will and his purposes for your life. “I surrender all. I surrender all. All to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”

Do you want healing for your life? Have you been hurt by sin’s deceitfulness or disappointed by how things have turned out for you, or crushed in spirit due to mistreatment by others? Then, lay it all down at Jesus feet, surrender all to him, consider the cost of following Jesus, and go with God wherever he takes you, and trust him to work all things out for good.

Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.

2 thoughts on “Counting the Cost

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