Counting the Cost

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and counts the cost, whether he has sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28).
On one trip to Suriname I met a taxi driver who was attending our campaign. He offered to drive me to various appointments and I accepted, assuming that I would pay for the rides. After the first trip I asked what I owed, and he responded, “don’t worry about it now, we will settle up after the end of the campaign.” Some days later we did “settle up”, at what I felt was a very exorbitant rate. Unfortunately any opportunity for negotiating was past, and I felt compelled to accept his terms.
Jesus advises us to arrange terms in advance. Know what you want to do, and assess the costs of your actions in advance. With regard to discipleship, he teaches:
“If any man comes to me, and hates not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26,27).
Following Jesus requires absolute commitment. Too many “would be” disciples make an initial decision to be a Christian, but soon find that the cost is greater than they anticipated. They are like the seed scattered among the thorns in Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-23). The “care of the world” chokes the word and the recipient becomes unfruitful. When it becomes time to “settle up”, he is unable or unwilling to pay the price.
The same principle also works when it comes to sin. Satan entices us with promises of pleasure or gain, but does not tell us what our actions will cost us in the long run. We aren’t told that the alcohol or drugs that promise us a good time will eventually cost our health, our jobs, our families, and our lives. But millions have realized far too late that that is the true price. Similarly the unethical and ruthless practices that provide profit and prosperity will cost far more than they produce in lost trust, ruined reputations, and broken relationships.
Now when I get in a taxi, anywhere in the world, I first ask, “how much?” If the cost is more than I feel it should be I get out and try another car. I follow the same principle in spiritual matters. Christ is upfront with us, letting us know exactly what he requires. Satan, on the other hand, is deceptive, concealing the final bill until it is too late for us to negotiate and choose whether what we have gained is truly worth the price we pay. Yes, the cost of discipleship is high, but only until we consider the exorbitant cost of not being Jesus’ follower. Satan’s is the price we can never afford to pay.

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