Counting the Cost
Beginning in verse 25 of Luke 14, Jesus speaks to a large crowd about the cost of being a disciple. One of the greatest things about Jesus is that He never asks of us things that He didn’t do. He isn’t a king in His high tower directing peasants to do His bidding without any idea of their plight. Jesus came down into our plight and pulled us out of it and showed us a new way of doing things. Let’s look at a couple of verses…
Luke 14:28-30 AMP
For which one of you, when he wants to build a watchtower [for his guards], does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is unable to finish [the building], all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’
Jesus is using this parable to describe being a disciple. Before jumping in and making a decision in haste, we should carefully consider it. There’s more at stake than just ourselves, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
To give a modern-day example, I’m gonna reference my own life. In my late teens to early twenties, I prayed the salvation prayer. I was going to church on a regular basis and I served to the best of my capacity at that time. A group of us were writing Christian rap songs and performing them and I was very aggressive in my stance. I had the mentality that I was saved, going to heaven, and I was good to go. I did everything I wanted to do and I gave up nothing. I still had sex, smoked weed, got drunk, snorted pills, had fits of rage and anger (even once physically attacking a friend inside the church). I inevitably fell away. Similar situations proceeded throughout my twenties where I would “come to faith” but then fall away again. I didn’t count the cost of being a disciple. I had laid the foundation of Jesus but didn’t build upon it and if I did, I used very cheap materials and cut corners. I may not have had others ridiculing me but there were voices in my head saying things like: “You began to build but you can’t finish. You’ll never finish. Don’t even build!”
Luke 14:34-35 AMP
“Therefore, salt is good; but if salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words.”
This familiar passage comes right after the cost of being a disciple. Those that start to build and are unable to finish because they didn’t count the cost are like salt that loses its flavor. I didn’t keep building and I definitely lost the flavor. I became worthless salt. But I am so thankful for a God that gives second, third, fourth, and fifth chances.
1 Corinthians 3:12-13 AMP
But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will be clearly shown [for what it is]; for the day [of judgment] will disclose it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality and character and worth of each person’s work.
There are no cutting corners here. There’s no building with cheaper materials because the cost is too much. My hope is even though I had previously built with wood, hay, and straw that I’m now building with gold, silver, and precious stones. What I was building before was a kingdom and tower for me, not Jesus.
Hebrews 12:2 AMP
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus knew the cost and it was counted long before He came down. Jesus paid with everything. Sure, He knew what the outcome would be, but don’t we as well? Isn’t eternity with Him the joy set before us?
This week we’re celebrating Christmas, where Jesus had finished counting the cost and said I’m all in and came down as a baby! He went from almighty being with infinite power and might and made Himself a human baby that needed someone to care for Him. Jesus started building and kept building until it was finished on the cross. He didn’t skip steps and He certainly didn’t cut corners. He endured the cross.
Luke 14:33 AMP
So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not [carefully consider the cost and then for My sake] give up all his own possessions.
Our cost of following Jesus isn’t as extreme as His and yet we shy away from it or downright refuse at times. How indignant of us! What does it look like? It can really all be boiled down to two words: submission and endurance. It’s submitting the things we want to hold on to: our possessions, feelings, so-called rights and attitudes. It's enduring the growing pains that come along with it.
The following isn’t a complete list but rather some examples of the cost of being a disciple. All of them require submission and endurance. Sometimes the transformation that takes place inside of us is like a battle. We have traits that we’ve defined ourselves with and ways of doing things that we don’t want to let go of. Sometimes we might desire change but don’t endure throughout the whole process and give up. We need Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit to do either one; we cannot do it in and of ourselves. These are just a few of our “possessions”, things we tend to hold dear to us.
Pride and our “rights”
Anger and unforgiveness
Selfishness and having to own stuff
Lying and escaping responsibility
Worldliness and a desire to fit in
There have been and will be many, many things I could say here. As of writing this, the current cost I’m paying is one of honor and humility; giving up my “rights” to myself and “I deserve this” or “I’m justified in thinking and feeling like that”. I’m in multiple positions of servitude to different types of people. There’s my wife, church leaders, my boss, my children, and my friends and family. I’m in the process of learning more about what it means to be humble. It’s submission to authority in some areas and submission as a servant in others. I’m trying to be persistent with asking the Holy Spirit how I can honor my wife daily and be obedient to what’s revealed. I’m working on learning ways I can honor the authority above me in addition to the submission. I have been rebellious since I was a child, but that can’t define me and it can’t be something I take pride in or I have no place as a disciple. It can be tough at times to submit and endure but it’s worth it.
To be a disciple of Jesus and build upon that foundation you can’t show respect and kindness to your wife/husband/kids and then go home yelling and screaming at them. You can’t go to church and show piety on Sunday and then live reckless and ungodly the rest of the week and expect to be building anything that will endure.
In the first example, the cost would be having patience with your wife/husband/kids. Their needs or desires should be more important than yours. As a disciple, you should be serving them and honoring them with humility, and not ruling them with an iron fist.
The second example would need selfish desires and motives to be put to rest. Drinking, partying and drugs are all choices we first make out of a desire to satisfy something in us, whatever it is. It could be to cover pain, it could be to shut the rest of the world out. Either way, it’s an attempt at a quick fix and those never work.
To summarize, the cost could look different for you than it does for someone else. If you come to Jesus and you want to follow Him and be His disciple you have to consider the cost. Are you willing to give up everything you have and everything you are? Because of the joy set before us—our eternal life with the creator of everything and the Savior of our souls—the answer should be yes.
Written by Aaron Crosson