“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 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.”(Luke 14:27-33 ESV)
This is a strange passage to me. Jesus is clearly talking about the Christian life, and advising people to consider what it will cost them before they embark on a lifetime of being His disciple. Clearly He wants us to take the costs very, very seriously.
And yet, who can really do that? I had no clear idea of what it would cost me when I became a Christian. Oh, I knew the basics—it was going to mean laying down my right to rule myself, to do whatever I wanted to do. I would be submitting to Jesus instead. And it was going to mean the death of any number of sins and bad habits. And that would hurt!
But I didn’t know the other things it would cost me—the friendships, the jobs, even a boyfriend in my teens who was clearly not a person God would want me dating. The move cross-country, when God called my husband into ministry. The permanent change into a person caught between two cultures, half mainstream American, half Vietnamese—never fully at home in either, ever again.
How is it possible to count the cost when you don’t know half of what will happen to you?
Jesus knows we can’t. He is looking for a heart change—what He refers to when He says that we must “renounce all that we have.” Clearly this doesn’t mean that each and every Christian is to give away all their worldly goods and take to the street as a homeless, family-less person. But it does mean that each of us puts Christ first in our hearts in such a way that, if He should call us to lose something in His service, we are able to give it up at that time.
Of course, this is not a thing that human beings can do on their own. Give up family, friends, home, job? No. That can only happen if the Holy Spirit is living in us, working in us to do the impossible—to bring us to a point where we treasure Jesus above all else, however beloved.
What is it, then, that we are putting above everything else in our life—what is it that we are preferring to all these other gifts? It is Jesus, the One who counted the cost of saving us and said, “Yes, I’ll do it.” Of His own free will He became a human being, born to live the same hard life that we have—born to work hard, to suffer, and finally to die on a cross, all to bring us back to God. With His death He bought us back from the power of death; and with His resurrection He made us His own forever. This is how much He loves us. For such a Savior, is any cost too high?
Prayer: Dearest Lord, keep me forever Yours. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on September 1, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. When have you had to “count the cost” to get something you wanted?
2. Was it worthwhile?
3. What did you cost Jesus? What does this say about your value to Him?