Jesus spoke about first counting the cost before becoming one of His disciples. Let’s read His words first, and then make a few observations.

    “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.” Luke 14:27-32

    These words from the mouth of the Lord are very serious. It is clear from what is communicated here that not all would become His disciples, and not all would remain His disciples. Jesus is speaking about the difficulties and challenges that will come with following His ways when the rest of the world follows Satan’s ways. Jesus advises us that it would be wise to “count the cost” of becoming His disciple. Ponder the question: is it worth it to you? Don’t think about anyone else; is the cost of being a disciple of Christ worth it to you? This article will examine the various levels and ways by which someone might count the cost.

    Some will not count the cost, or at most, they will miscount the cost. Jesus explains this in Mark 4:16-19, during His explanation of the parable of the sower, saying:

“And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”

    The parable of the sower points out two different people who somehow miscounted the cost. One stays around for a while, but when the road gets rocky, they bow out. The other also continues for a while as a disciple, but they miscounted the worth of eternity; feeling like the goods of this world are worth more than discipleship.

    Then there are others who focus on the serious cost of discipleship and conclude they are uninterested. The problem with this group of people, is that they forgot to count the loss as well. There are in fact pros and cons. This group considered all the cons that they could dream up about becoming a disciple, but did not look at the pros. This is often how the world looks at Christianity, and it is the saddest thing that I’ve every seen. Just scratching the surface of the pros to me would be the fact that a Christian lives everyday with a confident hope of eternity. The world cannot enjoy that hope. The world can only look to today, and this life. But afterward, what will they be? Maybe some believe they will cease to exist; this still doesn’t relieve them of the feeling that we are all working day by day towards the goal of what? NOTING? That would make existence not only pointless but depressing. A “pro” of discipleship is that it moves closer to an eternal goal every day. A “pro” is freedom form our past, and past sins. A “pro” is the relationship a true Christian enjoys with their Creator, whom they can go to in prayer and receive peace from their anxieties, and gifts from their Father. But is there a con? I think we’d be deceiving ourselves if we said there were none. A con for everyone would be the denial of self, to take up our cross (you know, the one we sacrificed our own will on). It is hard to not be able to do our own thing anymore; we now serve a master. That being said, our master is a loving father and a liberal giver of blessings, including the blessing of life eternal. So, in all honesty, can we really call it a con? On the Day of Judgment, will serving the will of God instead of our own for a few short years on this earth be considered a con?

    So as we can see, counting the cost has a lot of variables to it. One must count all the costs of discipleship, but one must also count the cost of losing their soul. Can it be said in conclusion that if everyone took an honest look at all of the costs (and rewards), that there would only be one answer? I believe there is a lot of truth to that. So then, it is our job to explain the costs and rewards, the pros and cons to those in the world. We do not want them to miscount like the people in the parable of the sower, nor can we allow them to count the cost of discipleship without also counting the cost of their lost soul. It is up to us to provide them with the biblical information by which they can come to an educated conclusion.

Counting the Cost
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Tanner Campbell

Tanner Campbell has been preaching since 2004. He began preaching in California, and spent 8 years preaching full-time in Arkansas before moving his family of four to the Black Hills of South Dakota to preach for the Southside church of Christ in 2014.