It is very easy to get excited about things especially when they come nicely packaged or are advertised in a titillating way. Often, people jump into relationships or sign contracts without first weighing the cost of that relationship, or reading the fine prints at the bottom of the contract form. For instance, entering into a monogamous intimate relationship will cost you the time you used to spend with single friends, or even some of the time spent doing a favorite activity. Yet, if that relationship matters to you, you should be and will be willing to pay the cost to make the relationship work. As a Christian, have you considered the cost of your walk with Christ?
Being a Christian involves taking up crosses. Jesus says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” [Luke 9:23, NLT]. The thing about crosses is that they are meant to be carried daily; that is the cost of following Jesus. When it comes to taking up crosses, there are two groups of people; those who make excuses and those who actually take up their cross. The first group of people are those who want to enjoy the benefits of Christianity without putting in the work that it requires. They want to experience the presence of God without prayer and worship. They want to have a change in their attitude without reading the Word of God and acting on it. In Luke 9:57-62, the Bible says, “On the road someone asked if he could go along. “I’ll go with you, wherever,” he said. Jesus was curt: “Are you ready to rough it? We’re not staying in the best inns, you know.” Jesus said to another, “Follow me.” He said, “Certainly, but first excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have to make arrangements for my father’s funeral.” Jesus refused. “First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God’s kingdom!” Then another said, “I’m ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home.” Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day” [The MSG]. For one person, the cost of following Jesus meant he couldn’t make funeral arrangements for his father and for another he couldn’t get the chance to say goodbye to his family. Yet, despite all these excuses, Jesus emphasized that no excuse was good enough when it came to doing the work of God. The duty of the Christian is to “go and preach about the Kingdom of God” [v. 60] and this involves work and sometimes rejection, which they were not ready to endure. What is it that Jesus has called you to do? Maybe for you today your cross might be for you to meet the needs of your neighbors who are suffering, it might be for you to let go of an offense or hurt cause you, or for you to walk in love or for you to fully surrender your life to the influence of the Holy Spirit. That is your cross, are you carrying it or are you still making excuses?
Then there are those who have taken up their crosses. There are also two groups of such people; those who have counted the cost and those who haven’t. For those who have not counted this cost, along the way they get disheartened or overwhelmed with the trials and tribulations that they face. For these, Jesus says “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God” [v. 62, NLT]. When it comes to a personal relationship with Christ, it is “all in” and “no looking back”. That is why we are encouraged in Hebrews 12:2 that, “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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” [NKJV]. Yes, crosses are not easy to carry but they become easy to carry when you fix your eyes on Jesus no matter how heavy the cross is. Jesus had to endure his cross, a very heavy cross laid with all of mankind’s sins of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Yet, He did not give up but He endured the shame of the cross, and is now seated at the right hand side of the Father. If the greater one now lives in us, carried the biggest cross and overcame, know that you too can carry your cross and overcome by His power that works in of you.
Then there are those who have counted the cost and picked up the cross. You have won victories along the way and with every victory, you gain more God-confidence. Yet, there are times when it seems like with the more victories you win, the bigger the cross becomes. In this God fight of faith, crosses are there to make us mature in Christ and so that we don’t lean on our own understanding. Don’t give up or give in because even though “we are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies” [2 Corinthians 4:8-10, NLT]. The heavy crosses make us stronger to flex our spiritual muscles in this fight of faith. Keep carrying the cross “for our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!]” [2 Corinthians 4:17, AMP].
Even in intimate relationships, those who count the cost before leaping into them have more resolve to make the relationship work, because they determine in their hearts that nothing will cause them to give up. Can you imagine what such an attitude can do in the Kingdom of God? When someone purposes in their heart to follow Jesus regardless of the cost even if it means death, and that nothing shall by any means separate him/her from the love of God [Romans 8:35-39]. Those are the people that wrought great feats in God’s Kingdom and those are the people who frighten the devil the most, because such a person is unstoppable when used by God. So go ahead, count the cost, take up your cross and follow Jesus!