Here is part 2 of my previous post outlining the inevitable cost of following Christ and the importance of our acceptance of this. Jesus makes it clear in Luke 14:25-33 that we must be willing to live up to the sacrifices our faith will require. Otherwise, we are not true disciples. The profit from being His disciple will far outweigh the cost and that gives us the necessary perspective for endurance.
Below are more examples from my experience of personal cost from faith.
It cost me when I parented Biblically rather than socially.
Societal norms are definitely hard to stand against, even among other believers. By choosing a lifestyle that gave me more time with our kids, schooling that allowed greater investment in their character/faith development, family schedules that prioritized family time/church community over sports/hobbies, and firm boundaries for the kids, I felt like we were making an investment and hoping it would pay off. It was easy to second-guess if we were doing the right things for our children, if the chance we were taking would be worth it. Many times we felt weird because of our choices. It was difficult to set a Biblical standard for parenting that conflicted with current parenting trends and even more challenging to hold our children accountable to it.
It cost me relationships.
Not all my friendships wanted to prioritize faith so I lost several along the way. I got to the point where I didn’t care what Oprah thought or about the latest movie or gossip. I wanted to talk about God and the Bible or the challenges we were facing in everyday life. Being His disciple cost me hurt feelings from the rejection of others.
It cost me time and effort.
Prioritizing Jesus definitely forces a dying to self, even in regard to daily priorities. I had to change from being a “night person” to a “morning person” in order to have devotional time with God. Spending time in God’s Word and seeking to live it out authentically were challenging. Attending Bible studies, fellowship group, and serving in the church came at a price but I knew it was what God expected of His disciples. It wasn’t easy to center family life around God’s priorities rather than personal pursuits or pleasures.
It cost me the approval of others.
Allowing His perspective to direct my course of action isn’t always understood by others. Knowing that everything I do reflects back upon Christ either in a good way or a bad one requires careful consideration in regard to decision making. It can be challenging to determine what is right and hard to implement it if it is an unpopular viewpoint.
It cost me money.
God’s grace brings a responsibility with finances. We feel the need to share with others through tithing at church, capital campaigns, partnering with others in their ministry, sponsoring children, and funding our own mission trips/ministry. Though I choose to give so much of my time to ministry, I’m aware of the income I could be earning otherwise with a regular job.
These are but a few of the costs I have felt personally as a disciple of Christ. Times where I felt embarrassed, rejected, inferior, condemned, used, and lonely were unavoidable. Moments of offering grace over retaliation, forgiveness over bitterness, truth over political correctness, accountability over appeasement, patience over a quick temper, or consideration over selfishness, make me feel the price of discipleship. And yet there are that many more times I shrink back from paying the price because of greed or pride.
I am reminded of the many believers who have paid the ultimate cost- loss of life, freedom, property or livelihood. My costs are insignificant compared to theirs!! I have the utmost respect for the life-altering costs that some Christians pay for their faith! It makes me want to be rise better to the opportunities in my life with gratitude and worship.
Will it be worth it?
Absolutely!!! This has been evidenced abundantly for me! The profit from any cost has been so much greater than I could have hoped. When I have sacrificed for the sake of Christ, He has given that much more of Himself to me. There has been an intimacy and growth forged by the pain which makes me realize that the “cost” was more than worth it!
I know from many passages that God promises greater gain from sacrifice than what it costs us. Nothing is wasted and nothing is forgotten!
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:44-46
The wonder of the Biblical mindset is that it is in “joy” that disciples willingly sacrifice. That’s because they know it isn’t an even exchange- Christ ALWAYS outgives!
Jesus knew that we would need encouragement for living a life of faith that can be costly so some of His last words were meant to offer just that. Revelation 22:12 says,
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.
Friends, it will be worth EVERY effort we give to reflect Christ to this world. Your sacrifices count and they are worth more than gold to our King. He will use them for greater purposes than we can imagine so do not grow weary! Be strong and courageous as you offer yourself as living sacrifices to a lost and broken world. Let them see Jesus in you and wait patiently for the reward that will be yours one day. You will not regret one ounce of suffering when you see what He will bring from it! Glory awaits!!