Counting the Cost
Updated: Jan 22
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Luke 14:27-28
I am immeasurably blessed to be Your child, and it is the greatest privilege on earth to be Your disciple. Everything else in this world pales in comparison to You, Jesus. You are my supreme treasure. Jesus plus nothing equals everything. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:7-8).
Come to Me
Some of my favorite words that Jesus spoke were, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). As a believer, I no longer swim in sin nor enjoy the sins I once did in my unregenerate state, but I battle it. The Christian life is a battle every day. The Christian life isn’t easy, but with the Holy Spirit living inside of me, I have the grace of God with me. With the Holy Spirit, I am not alone in fighting sin, and my repentance is proven to be genuine as I continue to experience real victory over sin, which is evidence of being born again. And that brings me so much peace and joy to have the assurance of my salvation in Christ. Battling sin isn't always a walk in the park, but compared to the heavy yoke and burden of pride and sin, His yoke of humility and righteousness is easy on my shoulders. His burden is light. Lord, I praise You for lifting off the heavy burden of sin from my weary shoulders when you saved me and for placing me on Your path of righteousness for Your Name's sake. I found rest for my soul in You. I am eternally grateful!
What did Jesus mean when He said to count the cost if we want to be His disciple? In Luke 14, Jesus lays out the terms of true discipleship.
25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “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. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:25-33).
When Jesus talks about hating our own family, He means that if or when we are faced with the painful choice of loyalty to family over loyalty to Jesus, we must always choose Jesus. Even if our family disowns us for being Christian, we must choose to follow Christ instead of forsaking Christ to be accepted by our family. That's what Jesus means when He says "hate" in this passage. Jesus’ command to “hate father and mother..” requires us to place our relationship with Jesus above our relationship with our parents, spouses, siblings, and other family members.
Although eternal life is a free gift by God’s grace, and the gospel is as free as the air we breathe, we must turn from our own selfish wills and turn to Jesus. We must wholeheartedly repent and put our trust in Christ alone. We must transfer our trust from ourselves to the Savior. The phrase “counting the costs” means that we first must recognize and agree to the terms that are laid out before us when we come to faith in Christ.
You Must Choose
When we follow Jesus, we cannot also follow the ways of the world. We cannot choose Jesus and righteousness and also choose sin and worldliness. It doesn't work that way. It can't. The two are mutually exclusive and completely incompatible. Following the system of this world that is under the dominion of Satan and following Jesus Christ are diametrically opposed. That's why true Christians in this world look like aliens and are persecuted for righteousness' sake. It's because our citizenship is in heaven. We are just pilgrims passing through. Scripture says we are foreigners and strangers in a foreign land. Our real home is in heaven. We are mainly here on this earth to shine the light and share the gospel so that others can join us in God's eternal kingdom too. We are not here just to party our lives away, laugh our lives away, work or sleep our lives away, nor are we here to live in excess and constant pleasure, and we are not to join the world in its lavish, sensual, earthly ways. We are not walking with the big crowd on the easy road that leads to destruction. We are walking with the small crowd on the hard path that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). We are walking with Jesus intimately and in close fellowship with our brothers and sisters.
Counting the Cost
Along with repentance and forsaking our old lifestyle of sin, counting the cost of following Christ means we may have to end certain relationships, say goodbye to certain dreams, jobs, or material things, or we may even have to give up our very own lives for the sake of Jesus. There are a lot of things in this world that don't harmonize with truly following Jesus. Following the world's system of deception along with all its false religions, human philosophies, and ideologies couldn't be more opposed to following Jesus. The two are polar opposites, and there is no gray area. This world is also not a safe world, especially for those who are true Christians (namely in other parts of the world. However more severe persecution will be upon us in the United States quicker than we think. And that's where you'll see who is really for Christ and who just professes Christ with their mouths but in their hearts are still children of the devil). The thing is, since God is for us, true believers have nothing to fear. We have Jesus and eternal life in Him, and we trust in His plan and goodness for our lives.
As believers we are simply here to shine the light, and there's a cost to shining that light. When we let that light shine for Jesus, many people are not going to like it, and at times, many will hate it. So, that's another cost. The deceptive world system and all who trust in that system are hostile against God and the Truth. And we are essentially people of the Truth, living in that broken system of lies, amongst the majority who believe those lies and even love them. As a Christian, you've got to know that you're doing something right if you're hated for Jesus' sake and for living a life of holiness in a world who loves sin and debauchery. People who live in darkness hate those who carry the light because the light is the Truth, and the Truth sheds light and exposes their evil deeds. The light we carry in us disturbs the darkness that resides in them. Persecution is evidence that you're convicted of the Truth and so convicted that you're not afraid to shine that light in a dark, hostile world. Persecution is evidence of being a true child of God. Among those who are perishing, children of God are the aroma of death to death.
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life (2 Corinthians 2:14-17)
If the World Hates You
When believers live without fear in the face of persecution, it serves as a powerful form of evangelism. It further proves the conviction Christians have in Jesus, which should be taken as a warning for those who reject the light we shine as believers. The promise of eternal life in Christ can serve as great courage to us as believers. At the same time, the courage we have often reminds unbelievers of their uncertainty of their own eternal destiny. This in part explains why Christianity spreads so well under persecution. Only true believers claim Christ and suffer for His sake, and true saving faith that is lived out in love, is a powerful testimony to the watching world. When we follow Jesus and aim to live a holy life, it will be inevitable that a sinful people who love the darkness and trust in a corrupt world system will hate us. Jesus Himself told us to expect that.
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you (John 15:18-19).
The By-Products of Faith
Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, there were big crowds that followed Him around everywhere. Everyone loved the free food, healings, and miracles that Jesus did. Many thought that Jesus was cool, and He was the talk of the town. Essentially, He was considered the latest fad for many. However, Jesus knew what was in their hearts. He knew that the majority of the crowds only wanted to receive the benefits of what He did, rather than receive Jesus Himself. Many loved His miracles and gifts but not the life He was calling them to – a life of submission and holiness, forsaking themselves and trusting in Him alone.
Those who follow Jesus simply for the benefits and by-products of the faith, won’t be able to stick around when trials come. They have head knowledge of Him and they may like Jesus because of what He offers, but they don't have heart knowledge of Him because they don't truly trust Him. Many who have not counted the cost will soon turn away at the idea of having to sacrifice or suffer for Christ.
There was a time during Jesus’ earthly ministry when there was no longer free food, and the once cheerful crowds became resentful because Jesus was no longer giving them what their unregenerate, carnal hearts desired. Rather, He was offering them the bread of life (Himself, the Truth incarnate), which people were simply not interested in. He was offering eternal life to anyone who would receive Him, yet most people rejected His offer. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35). People don't change just because times change. It's still the same today. Most people reject Jesus, and many are self-deceived who say they believe in Jesus but still believe the world's lies, follow the system of this world, and live in unrepentant sin, falsely believing they are secure in Christ.
Can't Serve Two Masters
"Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33) “Renouncing” means we may have to give up something physically, but more so, it means we may have to let go of something emotionally so that what we own no longer owns us. When we become a child of God, we cannot continue to belong to this world and be in bondage to sin, idols, or continue to serve ourselves or serve money. We must make a choice, for we cannot serve two masters. We can’t serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24).
Saved By Grace Through Faith
We cannot earn salvation by works, good deeds, or a lifestyle change, for we are saved by grace through faith alone. However, when we wholeheartedly repent and put our trust in Jesus, good fruit and holy living become a natural by-product of true saving faith in Christ and evidence of being born again into His hope. When Jesus is in control of our lives, the results are pure living and evidence of growing in holiness. Although we will stumble at times, God’s grace keeps us from falling away because He has sealed us with His Spirit the instant we believed in Him. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance in heaven (Ephesians 1:14). And God always completes the work He begins. "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). By His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, God will sanctify us in His Truth. He will grow us in holiness by the Truth of His Word, which will manifest itself in obedience, love, humility, mercy, joy, purity, peace, and persecution from the world. Sanctify them in the truth. Your Word is truth (John 17:17).
If we really want to follow Christ, we must first count the cost of following Him. And if we really want to follow Christ, God will give us all the grace we need to live the Christian life and let the light shine for Jesus' sake. His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Lord, it is an incredible honor to be one of Your disciples, and it is my life’s mission to share the gospel and the joy of Jesus Christ with everyone! As believers, what a tremendous privilege that we are called to, by Jesus Himself! In fact, it is the highest privilege and calling in the entire universe – sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
All glory belongs to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! In Jesus’ Name, I pray amen.
Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:19
Beloved, I urge you as foreigners and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. 1 Peter 2:11
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!—21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4: 17-24