Counting the Cost

Readings  Matthew 16:24-25

Thought I would get away from the dog pictures and give some time to our old cat.  (My daughter Jessie may appreciate this picture most!)  It is funny how as children, we are so eager to care for an animal, yet do not understand all that goes along with caring for them.  Sometimes decisions are made without fully thinking things through.

Dear family,

Back when I was a kid (really a kid and not just acting like one), one of my brothers really wanted a dog that he found.  He told my mom that he would walk it, feed it, clean up after it, just take care of it.  Well, you know who had to do the clean up after it, and some of the other work.  My mom obviously had to do a lot of the care as well(remember, I was still a kid).  It upset me when I was in the process of cleaning up after it, that my brother had made this commitment and was not following through on it.  (I am over it!)

What would happen if in my marriage I would tell my wife that the words I said during our ceremony, those vows, were just words of formality, that they really did not need to be followed through on.  It would give her a nice warm feeling inside, right?  Maybe a burning inferno, or a broken heart.  Those vows had great meaning then and still do today!  I thought through those vows before making them.  The D word is not part of the equation in our marriage.

Decisions need to be thought through.  Otherwise what appears to be a decision is not one that lasts.  Maybe that is some of what Jesus was trying to get across in the Parable of the sower and the seed, and I am sure was trying to get across in the passage at the bottom of this page in Luke, where the man building the tower needed to consider the cost.

I can’t get away yet from Matthew 16:24-25 (NIV)
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

What do we do with this statement?  Is it dealing with salvation or just a deeper walk?  I don’t see how you can get away from it dealing with coming to faith, that understanding of your desperate need for salvation from your sin and Hell and an eternity apart from God, and turning from your way, and receiving the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Jesus Himself!  How can we comprehend God’s grace and not offer anything less.

Jesus is saying that if you are wanting to follow Him, then a yielding completely to Him, a willingness to suffer, even to the point of death is a natural response to a revealing of your sin and Who He is.

What do you do with these statements.

“I believe in Jesus, just not going to get fanatical about it.”

“I have received Jesus, but it is a personal thing, don’t need to impose on other people.”

“I am a Christian, but I do not need to go to church.”

“My faith is private, I can worship in the woods.”

“We do not dare go overseas on a mission trip, as we may not come back alive, or my family may be injured.”

“Sharing my faith is not what I was gifted in, I don’t feel comfortable doing it.”

You get the idea.   Some of these we have heard, some we may have thought or said ourselves.

What DO we do with this statement?

Matthew 16:24-25 (NIV)
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

First we must examine ourselves.  Are we of the faith?  Have I truly repented and come to Christ in desperate need of Life?  Recognizing that apart from Christ, I do not have life and am destined to eternal condemnation, the second death!

Secondly, if I am in Christ, have I somehow become disillusioned, contaminated by the world’s thinking and lost sight of my privilege, my only natural response to the love of Jesus, to offer my body as a living sacrifice.  (Romans 12:1 ).

If we have come to faith in Christ saying that I am willing to suffer even to death, then which of these statements do we sidestep?  (And if I am not willing to suffer for Christ even to death, what does that say of the state of my eternal destiny?)

Luke 17:3-4 (NIV)
3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Luke 6:27-31 (NIV)
27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5:38-42 (NIV)
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Luke 6:35-36 (NIV)
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:46 (NIV)
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:25-32 (NIV)
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Check out all the “One anothers” in the New Testament.

Many times we are not willing to “suffer” in dealing with other people.  What we call suffering doesn’t quite match up to Jesus statement about those “who would come after Him.”

We choose relationships, jobs, activities, churches, where we do not have to “suffer”, but rather have our needs met, without having to fully deal with the needs of others.

This devo may be “speaking to the choir” so to speak, yet as I consider Jesus statement in Matthew 16:24 , I am challenged to consider my life, my interactions with others, both within the body and outside.

How many times do I avoid conversations because I might have to “suffer” through them.  Come on!

Where are you today?  Are you following after our Lord, denying self, taking up your cross, or have we become sidetracked with our own needs, our own comfort, our own agendas?

I love you, and want us all to love more and more,

Steve

Love to talk this through with you!

Luke 14:25-33  (NASB95)
25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,
26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.
27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
29 “Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,
30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?
32 “Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
33 “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

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