There was a point in Jesus’ ministry where he challenges his followers to count the cost of following him. In that challenge, he uses the example of a builder and a king going to war both needing to count the cost in order to know if they’ll be able to do it. And then he concludes by saying that the cost of following Jesus is everything:”Therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)
The cost of following Jesus, of being His disciple, is everything. We can’t be like the builder, who can have extra left over, and build another tower or add some nice doors. We can’t be like the king, who may only need half of his army. No, we are followers of Christ. We have no left overs. Nothing in reserve. We give up everything.
But what is everything? Well, Jesus defines that for us. In verses 26-27 we see Jesus say that giving up everything means being devoted to Christ alone, and he does this by saying we must hate our families and ourselves. This may be alarming to those of us who have a different definition of hate, but it’ll be sufficient to say that when you are devoted to one thing and one thing only, you truly hate everything else because it may deter you from that thing.
Without going into lengthy discussion about the use of the term hate, I will remind all that it is Jesus who tell’s us to love our neighbor as ourselves, which he is quoting the Torah. And it is Paul who commands us to love our wives as Christ loved the church. I throw those out because God cannot contradict himself. But you can wrestle with that.
So, Christ commands us to count the cost. And I want to take a principle from there, and apply it to our lives, especially as many of us prepare to make resolutions.
My charge is this: 1) Is this resolution a demonstration of devotion towards God? 2) Did you count the cost of this resolution?
I believe if we truly count the cost, which might mean not making the resolution because, at least for now, it may not be a demonstration of devotion towards God, and thus think it through and plan it out, we will be much further ahead in actually living out our resolutions. And I believe it’s because of two things: 1) Our priorities are considered and things are thus rearranged in our lives in considering what the resolution may cost (time, money, loss of time with others or doing other activities, driving further, etc), and 2) As we think about it and meditate upon the resolution, we may get more resolve and be prepared to accomplish the resolution or we may see that this truly isn’t a resolution we are willing to do.
Count the cost. And may your resolutions be done in faith, acts of devotions unto the Lord because we were made for good works.