Now there went with him great multitudes: and he turned, and said unto them,
“If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it? Lest haply, when he hath laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all that behold begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, as he goeth to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and asketh conditions of peace. So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-33).
As we begin a new year, many people consider resolutions regarding new behaviors that they would like to begin. Great resolutions are often made– and then just as easily broken. Some persevere with their resolutions. Many more start out well and fade quickly. Far more are never realized in any way. Such is the nature of people: the spirit is always more willing than the flesh (cf. Mark 14:38).
Jesus knows this, and that is why He intends for everyone to “count the cost” of serving Him. It is a decision that is not to be taken lightly: Jesus is demanding all of those who come to Him. They are to suffer the shame and humiliation of the cross. They are to forsake every other connection and tie if need be to serve Jesus. To become a disciple of Christ is to be entirely changed; life will never be the same (Galatians 2:20).
Yes, the cost is great, but the reward is even greater (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Furthermore, while the cost of not serving Jesus is milder in life, its consequences in death are quite severe (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).
All of these factors must be considered and a firm decision is called for. There can be no “fence-sitting” on this question: you either decide to become a disciple of Christ or you decide to go your own way. A lack of a decision is a decision against Him.
It is a decision that each must make for him or herself. What will you choose– a hard life and a great eternity, or an easy life and a heinous eternity? You must count the cost.
Even those who decide for Jesus must continually consider themselves and their faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Do you still have your first love (cf. Revelation 2:1-7)? Are you growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)? Are you pressing upward toward the goal (Philippians 3:14-17)?
As we reflect upon the past year and make decisions for the new one, let us consider the state of our soul. Let us count the cost and be firm in our decision. Let us strive to grow in Jesus Christ!
Ethan R. Longhenry