"Anyone who wants to be My follower must love Me far more than he does his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers or sisters -- yes, more than his own life -- otherwise he cannot be My disciple. And no one can be My disciple who does not carry his own cross and follow Me. But don't begin until you count the cost."
Luke 14: 26-28a
"Don't begin until you count the cost." A few years ago we spent some time in Israel. Our prime necessity was to learn some basic Hebrew phrases in order to get along. The first, after Shalom, was "comma zay olay?" -- how much does it cost?
Only a fool would make a purchase or acquisition without first determining the cost. No matter how necessary, no matter how desirable, no matter how great the promised investment returns, a wise man first determines the cost. Yes, salvation is a gift of God. But discipleship is costly for it is purchased with obedience to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
The "Good News" today is frequently handled with the use of the techniques of modern salesmanship, which are to present only the desirable qualities of the product and ignore the rest. The shallow message to the unsaved is too often to offer them peace of mind, solutions for their problems, prosperity for their business, protection for their families (and their lifestyle), and happiness all day long. God is love and salvation is free so we'll all live happily ever after.
Fairy tales have little in common with fact. When these new babes in Christ begin to realize some of the not so rosy realities of being a disciple, some falter and fade. When the heat goes up some leave the kitchen. "Nobody told me it would be like this", they say. And when they see for the first time what being a Christian entails, some turn tail and run. And their last state is more despicable than their first.
What about the cost? A cross to bear, chastisement (a rod) for correction, suffering, ridicule, refining fire, persecutions, self-denial, possibly loss of old friends (and maybe family), a radical change in lifestyle, etc.. Jesus was a realist in the first degree. Nowhere in the Gospel can we find anything visionary or over-optimistic. He "tells it like it is".
But for those who know and are aware of the cost and are willing to sell all to buy the pearl of great price or the field with the treasure, there is value far beyond measure. Paul capsulated this fact as "the unsearchable riches of Christ". For those who are willing He offers forgiveness of sins, inward cleansing, peace with God, eternal life, the gift of the Holy Spirit, victory over temptation, resurrection from the dead, immortality and a dwelling place in the house of the Lord forever.
"But don't begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if he has enough money to pay the bills? Otherwise he might complete only the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh! ...So no one can become My disciple unless he first sits down and counts his blessings -- and then renounces them all for Me."
Luke 14: 28, 19, 33
"The passion for truth is silenced by answers which have the weight of undisputed authority."