There is a cost to following Jesus. It’s not in what we pay–it’s in what we give up.
Salvation is free, because Jesus paid the price. But a real commitment to Jesus means we will have to give up some things. Jesus Himself said we should count the cost before we decide to follow Him. Many crowded around Him, but Jesus knew that only a few would actually be willing to lose something for His sake.
“Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his bothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-27, NIV 84).
This message may seem a little harsh to us, but what Jesus is saying is that our love and devotion to Him should be so great that our love for family looks like hate in comparison. In other words, if it comes down to it and we have to choose, would we be willing to put Jesus first?
Counting the Cost
In some places in the world, people do have to choose Jesus over their own families. Not only that, but Jesus also knew that He was going to be killed and so would many of His followers. In fact, all the disciples but one were martyred for following Jesus. He knew if they did not have a love for Him that superseded love for their very own lives, they wouldn’t be able to follow Him.
Jesus is calling us today to the same level of commitment. Are we just going to church because someone else wants us to? Do we claim to know Jesus just to keep peace in our home? Do we call ourselves Christians just for what we can get out of the name?
What is the cost of following Jesus?
“You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-23).
When we come to Jesus, we not only repent of sin, but we turn away from our sinful lifestyle. In our flesh, we are selfish creatures, but God calls us to be made new in the Spirit. What sinful habits and attitudes did you give up when you came to Christ? Do you consider the loss worth knowing Jesus?
“But what was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).
Paul said he had given up the status and pride of being a religious leader in the church in order to follow Christ, but he considered all that trash compared to having Jesus. Are you willing to give up your social status and be considered a Jesus-follower?
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 1:15-16).
“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
We may have to give up some old friends, some worldly ways of thinking, or even our career plans for the sake of the gospel. Once we decide to follow Jesus, we are turning away from the world and submitting ourselves to God and His ways. We are no longer motivated by the pleasures and pursuits of this culture but instead by the kingdom. Are you ready to turn from the world and live on mission with God?
The good news is that there was a great cost to be paid for our sin, and Jesus paid the price.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
The price we owed for our sin was death, but Jesus took the punishment we deserved. The cost of following Him is quite small compared to the price of our sin. In fact, what we gain in exchange for what we give up actually goes beyond the small price we pay to follow Him.
We turn from sin–He fills us with Himself.
We give up the world–we gain eternity.
We let go of our plans–He gives us hope and a future in Him.
We bring Him our brokenness–we receive healing and wholeness.
Jesus said what good is it to gain the whole world and yet lose your soul (Matthew 16:26)? Jesus wants all of us in total surrender. Only complete faith in God will move our hearts to surrender all that we are and all that we have to follow Him.
Though it cost all you have, nothing compares to knowing Jesus.
“‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it'” (Matthew 13:44-46).
What have you given up to follow Jesus? As you count the cost, I think you will find that He is worth it. Because you know what else you can count? Your blessings.