How many times a day do we ask the question “how much does it cost?” Usually we mean a monetary amount. In fact, I daresay that we rarely examine how much a decision will require of us to invest in all areas of life.
Cost: the outlay or expenditure (as of effort or sacrifice) made to achieve an object; Loss or penalty incurred especially to gain something
Nothing is free. Everything we choose to do is at the cost (expenditure) of something else. We make decisions everyday that cost us time, energy, focus, presence, and those decisions, add up to the sum of our lives. What we choose to walk toward and embrace in those decisions make up the essence of who we are. We want something good to be without cost, and we cannot wish that into existence. Give me that donut and a size 2—yes!
We do not like natural consequences because we do not want there to be a cost for our actions. In fact, we like to pretend there are not. (Hello spending more than we make and incurring debt or living as a victim to circumstances instead of taking control of our response). Even in parenting, it is harder on us to let natural consequences fall because we want to shield our children and ourselves from pain. How many times has a natural consequence punishment been incurred on my sons where it cost my comfort? All. the. time. Is it worth it to follow through? Absolutely. What might cost my comfort, convenience and lifestyle freedom at the moment equips my children for adulthood where they cannot shirk the cost. When I give into my call for comfort in the moment, I cost my children an opportunity to mature and to grow, and it costs me the habit of perseverance.
This morning, I was reading from the book of John focusing on the the week before Jesus was killed. I was haunted by these words: “Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Jesus said in John 12:25 “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees, they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” John 12: 42-43
They were afraid of the cost to their standing, to their comforts, to their lives. See, if we take Jesus words to heart, we have to consider the cost of following Him.
“Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciples. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
Sobering words not really given at the altar call, huh? There are several streams of “christianity” in our culture that tend to center on man’s felt needs rather than God. One stream says God will give you what you want, fill you up, make you the best version of yourself, and give you your best life now. How does that fit with the scriptures above?
One says we have no problem within ourselves–listen to your heart and follow it–God accepts and celebrates you as you are. Where do we find that message written in His word? What about repentance and a turning from what was before?
In those streams, there is seemingly no death to self. In reality spoken in scripture and in our hearts, no one seeks God. He comes to find them, to restore them by the death and resurrection of Christ and to transform them into His character with His love and His grace. His Perfectly Righteous and Loving Son came to this Earth suffered and died taking upon himself our sins, being separated from His Father, and defeating death and the ENEMY. This is true abundant life. This is countercultural. This Christ-life pushes the buttons of the culture and is offensive. This Christ-life shakes the core of our natural tendencies and causes us to look beyond ourselves for strength. This Christ-life replaces our heart of stone with a heart of flesh that grows more and more to be like Him surrendered to His beauty and heart. We find ourselves in Him by losing ourselves.
It is very clear in His word that there will be a rub with the world because the world and the culture are not seeking after God. They are caught in a prison seeking after self, their own pleasures, their own gains. It doesn’t seem like a prison, but once eyes and ears are opened to Grace and Life, we are changed fundamentally at the core of who we are. We are faced with a choice daily to seek after the glory of God or the glory of man. The cost in the present in seeking the glory of God is high. It will affect every portion of your life for the glorious good, but it will also alienate you from the praise of mankind. Seeking after the glory of what man thinks of you is easier in the moment, but the cost is great in the end.
So, my question today…for what are you counting the cost…now or later?
For a beautiful picture of the heart of man and the transformation brought by what Jesus did on the cross over 2000 years ago– Read Ephesians 2:1-10