Count the Cost
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:31-33).
Jesus does not try to sell discipleship the way some try to sell used cars. He doesn’t want that step to be based upon emotion. He doesn’t picture his disciples as living in ease and luxury. He wants us to be sure of what we are getting into.
He says it is going to be a fight. He warns it is going to cost. We might expect that since it seems anything of value costs something. But we may not be prepared for the price he names: Everything!
This may be confusing. Isn’t salvation given to us free of charge? So why does Jesus talk about a cost?
He did buy forgiveness for us. Salvation is free. But to live the life of a redeemed child of God demands commitment and sacrifice. Nothing can be more important in our life than Jesus. Nothing dare hold us back from following him. We may need to give up some things to be a disciple. We need to be ready to give up everything.
Those who wear the uniform of the Armed Forces perhaps understand this better than most. Doesn’t the mission come first? Might not a comfortable home and a loving family be left behind when duty calls? Aren’t we willing to sacrifice even our life in defense of our country?
Magnify all of these things to capture the image of a disciple of Jesus. To be a Christian does not always mean we must give up our friends—but it may. To be a Christian does not always mean we must give up our possessions—but it may. To be a Christian does not necessarily mean that we must give up our life—but it certainly may.
Some followers of Jesus in the past have had to give up all of these to remain his disciples. So might we. Face it!
A few years ago a young soldier in Iraq told me, “Chaplain, you must realize that I expect to die here.” He wasn’t being melodramatic or pessimistic. He had simply faced the fact that to be a faithful soldier he needed to be ready to lose everything. He was willing to do that. He was not alone.
Count the cost! Those words are not to deter us, they are to inspire us. They are to remind us that nothing in our life compares to faithfully serving our God. They are to warn us that to value anything at all more than Jesus disqualifies us from being his disciple.
A disciple of his by the name of Peter, once told him, “We have left all we had to follow you!” Jesus had an answer for him: “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:28,29)
Wow! “Many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
“Count the cost!” That’s good advice. “It’s worth the cost!” That’s our reply.
Jesus, there is nothing that compares to you. Nothing is as important. Nothing is as precious. To be your faithful disciple is the highest level we could ever reach. Keep us from throwing that away in order to hold on to something that will never last. Keep us as your own. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military