Counting the Cost

Counting the Cost

Ben CerulloBy Ben Cerullo5 Minutes

I’ve been thinking about that first Passover. Can you imagine the excitement, fear, and grief the Israelites felt as they began their journey to the Promised Land? Excitement over the end of their suffering. Fear of the unknown. Grief over the tragic loss of life they had witnessed. Joy at having been spared. Tangled in emotions, they launched into a journey beyond their wildest imagination!

It seems to me that their adventure through the wilderness to the Promised land is a lot like a Christian’s journey to Heaven. Unimaginable difficulties, losses, and failures awaited the Israelites … but the destination was never in question because it was all God from start to finish. We can have the same confidence. The blood of Jesus redeems us, the Spirit of Jesus guides us, and the life of Jesus fills us.

But there is something more to know. Even though God did multiple miracles for the Israelites, they faced tiring battles and heartbreaking defeats. Freedom wasn’t free. They left Egypt and its comforts behind and endured much on their way to the Promised Land.

Following Jesus will cost you something. Jesus said to count the cost. He compared it to a King’s preparations for war (Luke 14:28–33). Living the victorious Christian life requires wisdom, understanding, and perseverance. Jesus is clear: the call to follow Him is on His terms, not yours. He determines the road to your promised land, not you. To be His disciple, you follow where He leads and learn what He teaches.

Look at how Jesus worked with his first disciples. As a master craftsman, He built the disciples up as they walked their journey. First, He laid a foundation of faith and love. Then He layered His character into their lives as needs arose, uniting all in the process (1 Peter 2:5). His work in you and me is the same. We are told:

Add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love (2 Peter 1:5–7 NIV).

I see three common lessons for us in Matthew. First, you must learn to love Jesus more than you love every other person in this world … even more than your parents, spouse, or children. You must put Him first in everything – even if that brings you ridicule or rejection from those you love (22:37-38).

Second, you must learn to love every other person in this world more than you love yourself. Whenever you are tempted to put your plans, pleasure, gain, comfort, reputation, or life before Christ, you must learn to choose the action that honors Him most. But be careful: even good choices can be the enemy of the best choice (22.:39).

Loving Jesus and loving others lead to the third lesson. You must carry your cross (16:24). Your cross – your burden – will be unique to you and will become clear as you press toward the goal of acting in every situation as Christ acted. No matter the cost – just like Jesus lived.

Following Jesus is not for the faint of heart, but He asks nothing of you that He won’t help you do. When Paul asked for relief for his “thorn in the flesh,” the Lord reminded him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). Or as Billy Graham often said, “The will of God won’t take you where the grace of God won’t keep you.”

You can trust His Holy Spirit to enable you to follow Him.