Counting the Cost
I was thinking recently about a concept. My thoughts were provoked by the recognition that God established all good things and that He did so with an intention and an intentional design for everything He set in place.
The devil watched all this be created. He knows what is at risk whenever we do anything that is either righteous or sinful.
Every sinful thing we are tempted to do WILL put something at risk.
Every act done in obedience to God will ALSO put something at risk – but there will be something creative, restorative, healing…..Kingdom advancing as a result.
The concept I was thinking about has do to with this risk.
It is mentioned in this passage from the Gospel of Luke:
“Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:25-33)
This passage has to do with the commitment it takes for a person to CHOOSE to be a disciple of Jesus. In order to truly be a disciple (one who replaces their loyalty to anything earthly….including relatives….with learning from Jesus Himself), there WILL be costs.
One will, obviously have to do with “losing” earthly relatives.
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
The word “hate” literally means to “detest” but only in the sense of loving these earthly relationships less than we love Jesus – not to detest as we mean detest when we use it in every day speech.
Therefore, to be a disciple of Jesus means to love HIM more than we love them. More specifically, the cost has to do with risking whatever earthly benefits we would get from these earthly relationships.
We must “sit down and count the cost” in order to fully follow Jesus.
Another “cost” has to do with loving our own lives. That’s why Jesus addressed that this way:
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate……..his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)
This reminds me of a passage that is often quoted but not fully….since quoting it fully is uncomfortable and won’t attract people who are apt to NOT count the cost but WILL become mere paying members of some earthly organization instead of DISCIPLES of Jesus.
“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…..’” (Revelations 12:10-11a)
This is usually how most people quote these two verses but that is incomplete.
This is how it really reads:
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony and they did not love their lives to the death.’” (Revelations 12:11)
That third thing that leads to our overcoming the things satan will throw at us is exactly what Jesus is speaking about in Luke 14:27: “hating our lives” and “bearing our crosses.”
Jesus says to “sit down and count the cost.”
Here is why this was on my mind today.
There is a young couple in another state who have opened their hearts up VERY wide.
I have known the young woman since she was 4 years old. I was blessed to have been a part of their wedding ceremony several years ago.
They a chose a while back to take in a little baby…a foster child.
I follow them and her parents on FaceBook. They have done an amazing job – not only of giving this child a stable and loving home….but also of risking potential heartbreak should the authorities ever decide she should go back to her birth parents.
You see, “counting the cost” has to do with assessing the risk associated with whatever we choose to do.
This is true when we choose to honor God and do righteous things in His name, like being foster parents for a little baby.
There IS always a risk involved with doing righteous works but the ultimate end game to that will advance God’s Kingdom, bring restoration or healing or stability.
The risk will be worth it.
It is equally true of when we choose to violate our relationship with God, to Whom we have given ourselves, and willfully sin against Him, ourselves and others.
There IS always a risk involved in doing unrighteous acts.
It will result in destruction, division, damage, instability, wounding…..etc.
The risk will never be worth it.
I write this with no one in particular in mind besides those times in which I was successfully tempted to violate my design in Christ and my fellowship with God.
I write this in hopes that anyone reading it WILL “sit down and count the cost.”
Everything costs something.
Ultimately, since we Christians belong to Jesus, it is He who always pays the bill but, since He pays it THROUGH us, the cost of our sin will often be painful.
Jesus will also pay the bill through us even when what we decide to do, like foster a little girl, is a righteous and good thing to do….but hurts as our hearts break.
We MUST “count the cost” and the best way to do that is to “sit down” (set aside some time to truly ponder the pros and cons of whatever it is we would like to do.)
I think Jesus simply enjoys the interaction with us.
By obeying what Jesus speaks of in Luke 14, thoughtfully counting the cost and choosing to do things that we know will cost us something, we step into our inheritance as the disciples of Jesus. By following Him as He leads us through the righteous acts of the Kingdom of God, we ARE taught…discipled by our Lord.
Counting the cost upfront also thwarts the devil as he tries to get us to second guess our choices to obey God.
In this way the Lord will equip us to cast down “vain imaginations” (2 Corinthians 10:5) BEFORE they can take root in our hearts made vulnerable by the emotional pain and weariness that often accompanies the works of the Kingdom of God.
May we all, as Christians, “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
This article is humbly offered…in the name of Jesus.
Pastor Mike McInerney
Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.
© August 16, 2018
(For use with permission)