Counting the Cost

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.  34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:25-35).

Jesus said that the Christian life is a serious undertaking, and it should be accompanied by careful consideration. One can not just consider the joy and blessings that will come with being a Christian. Pain and persecution must equally be considered. There must be an intentional determination and commitment involved, so that no obstacle is too great and no burden is too difficult to cause one to quit. The prize of faithful Christian living is worth it, no matter what must be endured to achieve it.

With Christianity, it requires a complete overhaul of our life. It demands our all: our thinking, our actions and our direction in life. Jesus speaks in drastic language intentionally, and it should not be easily dismissed. God must take precedence over all of the closest relationships we have on earth. The kingdom life must be more precious than the good life of wealth or comfort.

It occurred to me that this concept of counting the cost is a principle that applies to so many things in life. This country is such a wealthy and consumerist place that we are not extremely adept at counting the cost for anything, even big decisions. We want the quick fix and the get-rich-quick scheme. We want the item now and are willing to pay 250 future monthly payments of $9.99 to get it. We expect the government to give us everything we want, but raising taxes is out of the question. We have become a society that is quickly losing the concept of hard work to get what we want. We are the best country on earth, right? We deserve the best, right? I do think this is a great country, but it will not remain great by becoming a lazy and entitled people.

I alluded to this concept of counting the cost with my previous post on the Ethics of Technology. When considering whether to buy the latest gadget, thought should be given to what it will cost in terms of a lifestyle and time to use it.

In a sermon recently, Gary Henry made an excellent point about possessions. Every single thing we take into our possession will cost us something. It will make a demand on our time and space. When we move, we will spend time boxing it up and carrying it with us. Every single possession – that certainly made me stop and think about the number of possessions I have and the demands I have allowed them to place on my life.

As a country, we need to become a people who are better at counting the cost, considering the price to be paid as well as the benefits to come for any item, service or program. As Christians, counting the cost should be at the core of our being. Is that apparent in our decision to follow Christ? Is that apparent in our lifestyle and decisions? It is certainly a question we all need to ask ourselves.

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