When is a good time to count the cost of following Jesus? Jesus answered that question indirectly, teaching that a person should count the cost before becoming His disciple. What does this mean? Counting the cost is simply using our intellect to understand the implications of accepting the gospel.
Sit Down, Estimate, Consider
In Luke 14:28-33, Jesus told two stories to illustrate the concept of counting the cost before following Him. Jesus said we are to ”sit down and estimate the cost“ and ”consider.” God created us as intelligent beings with a mind and intellect. Jesus said we are to use that intellect to think through what becoming a disciple means before becoming one. At the end of this scripture, Jesus issues a warning: ”In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” The implication is clear: When you count the cost to follow Jesus, you find that the cost is to give up everything.
It is common sense to consider the cost of doing anything. We do this with any major decision in life: Will I marry this person? Will I relocate my family to be closer to my aging parents? Will I invest in a new business? Will I accept this job offer? In the case of marriage, a person goes to great lengths to count the cost before actually getting married. What new responsibilities and new commitments come with married life? What may need to be given up or cut back on to accommodate and make time for a new spouse? Discipleship is even more of a commitment than marriage because it is a committed relationship with Jesus! Doesn’t this make it even more important to count the cost before doing so?
Jesus Said It Won’t Be Easy
As a new Christian, it is easy to accept that you will become part of God’s family and receive His forgiveness, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and eternal life. However, there is much more to consider, and Jesus did not sugarcoat the cost of following Him. Jesus said it will not always be pleasant, it will require that you always put God first, and you must not look back or be distracted from following God’s will for your life (Luke 9:57-62). These admonishments by Jesus are meant to discourage anyone who is not truly seeking Him with an open heart and is not willing to do whatever it takes to be His disciple.
Discipleship is a lifelong commitment (Luke 9:62). Jesus does not offer it lightly, and we must not enter into it lightly. It should not be based only on emotions. In fact, those who say they believe in Jesus and then turn back are worse off than they were to begin with (2 Peter 2:20-22)! Instead of helping, we do a disservice to people when we “lead them to Christ” without making sure they understand what that really means.
Call to Action
In a quiet place with your bible and journal, count the cost of following Jesus. Use the below as a guide to record your thoughts regarding the following:
- Consider your biggest obstacles and challenges to following Jesus (include specific sins)
- Evaluate your commitment to the body of Christ, and how this has impacted (or will impact) your lifestyle (Acts 2:42, Hebrews 10:24-25)
- Evaluate your level of commitment to making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20)
- Count the cost as it relates to your important relationships and friendships (Luke 14:25-26)
- Count the cost as it relates to your finances (Proverbs 3:9, Luke 11:42)
- Consider the lifelong commitment of claiming Jesus as Lord (Luke 9:62, 2 Peter 2:20-22)
We are saved by grace through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Counting the cost is not an exercise to see if you can meet a standard before you can follow Jesus. It is just using your brain to think through what you are getting into, before you commit to getting into it. Even if you are already a Christian who never before counted the cost of following Jesus, take time to do so. It is a great way to reconnect to Jesus and recommit to Him all over again.