Count the Cost
What does it mean to, “count the cost?” Christianity, in spite of what some believe, is no bed of roses. There is no way that a novice in the Faith can accurately count the cost of all the trials and tribulations he will experience during his course of conversion. We do not know what the future holds – only God knows. Even the apostles did not fully realize what they were getting into, and how demanding their future would be (Matthew 20:23).
Before we make the greatest commitment of our lives, baptism, it is important that we try to realize the severity and critical nature of the course on which we are about to embark, and that we make a positive, super-human pledge to stay the course no matter what impediments, obstacles and hurdles we encounter in our quest for the Kingdom of God.
Living the Christian life is more difficult than anyone can imagine. In fact, it is so challenging that without God’s continuous support through His Holy Spirit, it is impossible to succeed. “All who will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Timothy 3:12) Jesus tells us to count the cost of whether or not we are willing to bear our cross and endure unto the very end (Luke 14:27, Mark 13:13). We are not to take the step of baptism lightly. God expects us to make a firm determination to never depart from God’s Way, knowing that He will by no means forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
Jesus said the “cost” is enormously expensive, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33) God’s way comes first and foremost, above all things. At baptism, we enter into the total commitment to fight to the end, knowing the tremendous personal sacrifice it is going to be. We must put all personal pursuits second, because baptism is the biggest decision we will ever make – and there is no turning back. God’s Way is more important than family, marriage, children, college or education, occupation or location, because it involves our eternal life in a most direct way. Jesus tells us to be sure that we will be able to finish what we begin:
“If any man comes to me, and does not love-less his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first, and count the cost, whether he has sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
“Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consults whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an ambassage, and desires conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-33)
Before making the decision to be baptized and enter the pressure-cooker conversion process of being changed from carnal humans to becoming like Jesus Christ, we are to consider if we have what it takes to stick it out to the end of our venture? Have we thought it out? Have we made the commitment in our mind and heart, “I will seek God’s Will and Way above everything else in my life – regardless of the cost?” The only question we have to answer for ourselves is this: “Am I willing to accept the guidance, help, trials, direction and correction that a loving God will give to me?” “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. If ye endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons.” (Hebrews 12:5-7)
“Counting the cost,” means making the commitment to remain true and on course as we endure the hardships, the trials and the discouragement we encounter throughout the conversion process. That is keeping our eye on the big goal. Let’s realize as Paul did that human life is worthless and spiritual life is priceless. He said, “Bonds and afflictions abide me, but none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy.” (Acts 20:23-24)
God the Father counted the cost. Had Jesus failed by not living a perfect life, the Father would have lost His only Son forever. Jesus Christ also counted the cost before He came to this earth as a man. Many do not believe it, but He could have lost it all, had He sinned. The spiritual penalty for sin is death, and Jesus would have died the second death, eternal death, had He sinned (Hebrews 4:15, Romans 6:23, Revelation 20:14).
Coming from heaven, Jesus laid aside His glory – divested His divinity – so that He might endure the shameful, ignominious death on the cross for my sins and yours (Philippians 2:8, Hebrews 12:2). Jesus endured until the end. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Jesus endured the cross, and so will we – with the help of God. It is this certainty, and the realization of the great reward of the better resurrection to eternal life that is being offered to us, that convinces us to go the extra mile. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
When we count the cost, let’s realize that Jesus Christ is faithful to do His part. He will be there for us in every circumstance. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
After we have responsibly counted the cost, we covenant with God at baptism to accept the changes in us that come with conversion, though we may be tried in the fire, and faithfully accept the consequences with joy that come our way, knowing: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1Peter 1:7)
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