When my daughters (now 8 and 6 years old) were young, they had no concept of how much things cost. When we went to the store they didn’t know the difference between an item that cost $10 and an item that cost $25 dollars, they only knew what they did and didn’t want. It didn’t take long for them to learn to count the cost, especially when it came to making sure something we bought for the other sibling was equal to the amount I was going to spend on them. Even though they have learned to do this as they have gotten older, we recently test drove a car, and it was enjoyable to hear how much they thought a car or a house should cost. If you could buy a new car for what my youngest daughter thought they sold for, I’d gladly buy all of my friends a new car for Christmas next year.
Sadly, we all can be a lot like my daughters. We know what we desire, but we rarely take the time to evaluate the impact (or cost) that they will make in our lives. Enjoyment of things can become addictions which cost us our lives, or keeping up with the Joneses becomes a rat race that cripples us with debt. The Bible instructs us to weigh the cost of the decisions we are making before going down a path.
“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. Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him.” Luke 14:28-29 ESV
We can apply this wisdom to many areas of our lives, but it is most important to look at it in the area which Jesus taught the concept. He had just referenced something He had already told His disciples a few chapters earlier. Jesus is laying out the foundation of what we must do if we wish to be one of His disciples; He is explaining the “cost of discipleship.”
In Luke 9:23, Jesus gives us three things that being His disciples will cost us. The first being:
“…Let him deny himself…” (ESV)
The first thing we must realize when attempting to become a follower of Jesus is that it requires complete surrender. He wants us to give all of our selves to Him, our hopes and dreams, our aspirations, and most importantly our pride. While God created us with ambitions and has given us tasks to do for the Kingdom, He will not have of our selfishness getting in the way.
This was a constant struggle with Jesus’ closest followers, as it is for us today. Take Peter, for example, he left his fishing business to follow Jesus. He had to walk away from one thing to walk towards Jesus. Yet, like with us, following Jesus isn’t a one-time decision, it’s not a one time trip to an altar or a single prayer, it is an ongoing relationship. Throughout the Gospels, Peter’s “self” comes shining through. He is often determined to do things His own way (Rebuking Jesus for saying He was going to die, drawing His sword to fight in the garden, or even insisting he will die with Jesus only hours before running selfishly away from his friend as a crow cried in the distance.) Then, Jesus comes back to life and has this beautiful moment of reconciliation with Peter on the beach (see the previous post: Charcoal Fires) Yet, even at this moment, Peter’s selfishness comes to the surface.
Like us, Peter wasn’t content with just following what Jesus told him to do, his ambition and jealousy got in the way. After being instructed on how to build Jesus’ Kingdom on Earth (“if you love me, feed my sheep,”) Peter asked a question I would expect one of my elementary school kids to ask, “Well that’s fine, but is John gonna get something better than me?”
“Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved (John) following them… When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said… What is it to you? You follow me!” John 21:20-22 (ESV)
Now we can all be guilty of picking on Peter, or younger immature minds, but if we are all honest, the same jealousy we see coming out of kids is crawling just beneath the surface of our skin, the same selfishness that Peter puts on display is at work in our hearts. And Jesus instructs each of us that if we wish to be one of His children, we have to leave what we want at the door. We have to continually allow the spirit to strip away each new selfish desire that arises from our sinful nature.
God would never ask us to leave something behind if He didn’t know what He was doing. We think we know what’s best for us, but we can’t see the beginning from the end. God can, that’s why when we come to Him, and we have to pray for more of Him and less of us. When we do what he commands, it’s the first step in becoming one of His true followers. But step one is closely followed by step two. Which we will look at in the next post, but for now let’s set our hearts on letting go of our own selfish desires, and seek God for what He wants us to do.
Grace and Peace to You
On to the Next Step: The Price Part 2