The Cost of Faithfulness
Jesus taught people to count the cost of being His disciple just like a man might count the cost of building a tower or a king might count the cost of going to war (Luke 14:28-32). Jesus summarizes the cost involved in being His disciple by saying, “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33, NKJV). Paul would use similar language to describe the things he gave up in becoming a Christian. He says, “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8, NKJV). Let’s look at some specific things it might cost a person in order to be a faithful disciple of Jesus.
Relationships with Family
Many people love and value their family deeply. God’s word teaches us we have responsibilities toward our family (Ephesians 5:22-6:4). Jesus teaches a person must be willing to give up family relationships in order to follow Him. Luke 14:26 says, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (NKJV). Jesus describes the fact our love for Him must be greater than our love for our family if we are going to be worthy of Him (Matthew 10:34-37). A person who follows the Lord may be ostracized by his family for following the Lord. A person must make up his mind to be more loyal to the Lord than he is to his family if he is going to be a faithful disciple of Jesus.
Our Own Life
Jesus, in Luke 14:26, also teaches we must hate our own life in order to be His disciple. In other words, we must be willing to lose our life for Jesus’ sake in order to be His disciple (Matthew 10:39; 16:25). Paul is an example of an individual who love Jesus more than his own life. When speaking to the Ephesian elders he said, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24, NKJV). Revelation 12:11 speaks about people who overcame Satan in part because, “they did not love their lives to the death” (NKJV). Would we be willing to give up our own life in order to be a faithful disciple of Jesus?
Our Sinful Behaviors
1 John 3:6-10 points out the child of God is one who practices righteousness and no longer lives in sin. Some people sadly love their sins so much they are blinded to the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:12). Sinful behaviors are incompatible with being a faithful disciple of Jesus and must be put away if we are going to follow Him (Ephesians 4:20-24).
Friendship with the World
James 4:4 plainly states, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (NKJV). The parents of the blind man Jesus healed in John 9 demonstrate how losing the friendship and acceptance of the world can be a deterrent to faithfulness for some people (John 9:22). Even Jewish rulers allowed the fear of losing the acceptance of the world keep them from confessing Christ (John 12:42-43). Jesus was rejected by the world and teaches we should expect the same sort of treatment from the world ourselves (John 15:18-20; Luke 6:22-23). Pressure to conform to the world can be great at times but a faithful disciple of Jesus is willing to pay the cost and be different and separate from the world around him (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).
Cost vs. Reward
Being a follower of Christ will cost each and every one of us something. Is it worth the cost? Whatever cost we pay to be a faithful follower of Jesus is, “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18, NKJV). 2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us, “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (NKJV). The reward is so much greater than whatever we gave up in order to follow Him. Mark 10:30 reminds us we receive a hundredfold now in this time and in the age to come eternal life. Let's learn to see the cost of following Jesus from the right perspective. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (NKJV). If we look at things from a spiritual and eternal perspective, the cost is surely not anything compared to what we will receive in return.