When purchasing an item, we are usually concerned with the cost of it. When taking on a home improvement project, we want to determine the cost. Jesus taught that the cost of being His disciple deserves consideration: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it…” (Luke 14:28). I believe sometimes people want a cheap religion that costs them little – little sacrifice, little time, little money, little energy, little thought. That is not the way of Christ.
While eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord is a gift (Romans 6:23), it came at great cost to the Father and the Son: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And regarding man’s response needed to obtain the gift, Jesus spoke of the cost in this manner: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34).
Consider for a moment some of the costs of being a disciple of Jesus.
There is a cost of denying self and leaving behind our past life. Consider what the magic practitioners in Ephesus did: “Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all” (Acts 19:19). No, they didn’t sell them; they burned them. What they gained in Christ was far more valuable. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). Are you willing to completely turn your back upon your past life? It is worth your all to do so.
There is the cost of believing and confessing Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus said that whoever confesses Him before men, him He will confess before His Father, but whoever denies Him before men, him He will deny before His Father. I believe Jesus has in mind more than just words; to confess Jesus is not to just confess who He is but to also live by the consequence of that truth, which is that we must obey Him in all things. Jesus followed by saying that such could come at great cost within a family: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword….And a man’s foes will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:34,36). That’s a hard saying, and how many times have you seen families divided by the sword? And how many times do Christians end up choosing the path of least resistance? Are you willing to put service to Christ above family ties? It is worth your all.
There is also the cost of teaching and standing for the truth. For the apostle Paul, this cost him beatings, stoning, and eventually death. To Peter, Jesus spoke, signifying by what death He would glorify God: “When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish” (Luke 21:18). This was the cost of preaching and defending the truth of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul warned Timothy that a time would come when his hearers would not endure sound doctrine. One must wonder what trials Timothy may have endured. Is it worth it? Without a doubt, yes. Jesus said, ”Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). It is worth your all to teach and defend the truth against all enemies of the cross.
These are true costs to being a disciple of Christ. However, these costs pale in comparison to the true joy and peace of being forgiven, in fellowship with God, and living in hope of eternal life, not to mention the cost of being lost eternally in hell. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).