Count the cost.
By Ninos Hadjirousou
We continue our 5 points on what we Christians know about our suffering and our tribulations in this world.
b) Count the cost of following after the Lord Jesus Christ. (Luke 14:25-33) Jesus said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brother and sister, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” He then says “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?”
We have seen throughout Church History that many who were one step from death, have counted, and have realized how much it will take for them to give up all things in order to follow Jesus Christ. It cost them their own lives. This teaches us that if you are a Christian then you must have considered the price of the great pearl. You must have considered and thought of the cost of following Jesus, according not to what the system of this world says, not according to what man may say against you. But according to what God says what is right and honourable to do. Considering the price Christ paid for your soul.
So, have you considered the cost of following after the Lord? Consider that Christ knew in full detail all his life how He would die. He knew very well what it meant to suffer on a cross, yet He obeyed until death and did according to God’s will and not His own. My dear reader, He is able to understand and sympathize with your weaknesses because He was weak and yet died victoriously for the forgiveness of your sins. What does this fact mean to you? How much value is Christ Jesus for you? He is costly but He is worth it all!
c) Trust in the promises of God which are recorded in the Word of God. The cost is great and the thought of physical or emotional pain becomes a reality, but, all is not in vain. Consider the promises of our Lord in (Matthew 5:10-12) “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Jesus calls you blessed if you are suffering for His sake. He says rejoice if you are being taken in trial and being questioned by the authorities for your faith in Jesus Christ. This maybe strange for someone from the world, ‘why rejoice in suffering? What is there to rejoice in?’
Christians rejoice because they are saved from the eternal damnation that they deserved, because they trusted in the merits of the one who took their place of punishment and died for the payment of their sins, that they could not pay. God’s wrath was pleased for the death of Christ by raising Him from the dead. And so whoever would trust in the name that is above every other name, that is the only way for salvation from eternal Hell, they shall not perish (John 3:16). Not only this; in God’s sight sinners are counted as righteous, justified because of the blood of the Saviour. Jesus said “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”(Matthew 16:24-25). They have lost their life, denied self because of Christ for them. They understood and have believed that Jesus Christ is more precious and more worthy to live for than anything or anyone. They understood the words of our Lord when He said “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”(Matthew 16:26). They saw that eternal life with Jesus Christ is more valuable than their own lives, who were heading on the highway to Hell. And so there is the joy of having been justified and having peace with God and having access through faith into everlasting life with Him. And it is, secure for ever. You are safe in the hands of the almighty God.
What can separate you from the love of God says the Apostle Paul (Romans 8:35-39); our mighty Saviour himself has said “I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Another reason to be blessed is that, the one who is protecting and sustaining you is also the one who has the ultimate power to control all things, time, circumstances and deaths. For He is Sovereign. Jesus said that even the numbers of your hair is controlled by His mighty sovereign power and will (Matthew 10:29-30). Christians understand that God has divine providence to control even the smallest details. And beloved, if your life is in His hands, even if the enemy take you to death or when others accuse you for your faith, again I say, if your life is in His hands, should you not trust Him and have peace within you?
He promised for you in His Word “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purposes” (Romans 8:28).
d) The Christian life is a life of sacrifice and pain. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”(2 Timothy 3:12). Paul’s words to young Timothy are word’s that we must also grasp within ourselves. Because they describe what will be our condition whilst we live as Christians in the world. We are told not to be conformed, or moulded by the worlds system and values; rather we are called to walk in holiness by living as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2). A sacrifice is usually put to death; but here, we see a different kind of sacrifice. This is not only an inward sacrifice of ourselves (particularly our flesh), but this is also an outward sacrifice of the things that used to rule over us before we were converted.
From beginning to the end of our life, our walk will be nothing more than entering into a battlefield. Receiving hit’s from within or from outside, and keep getting up and continuing the battle until we are taken into heaven, into glory. When are we dealing with trials or persecution or even close death, we must remember that we should not worry about our bodies or our health. “Fear not him who can hurt the body” says the Lord, fear him who has the power to send your body and your soul into hell.
Our body is the least of our problems. Think more on how we will receive an opportunity to witness for the Lord when we are facing a trial or a persecution. I am not saying to put ourselves into trouble; what I am saying is that, while we live faithfully a godly life, the world will reject with our way of thinking and our way of speech and lifestyle because it does not like that which is good and holy. And so trouble will come, inevitably. The next words are not something that encourage you to do, but, if we desire to be friends with the world; will have to compromise the truth and reject the calling of the Lord in order to escape from being trouble makers in the world. No my friends. We know very well that this is not what we ought to do. Look at these words from the Apostle Paul “ eager expectation and hope that I will not be all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honoured in my body whether by life or by death.”(Philippians 1:20).
And then he says these amazing words which are the reason for living this life in the way he does, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (v21, emphasis added). He lived for nothing more than Christ and He would die also for Christ and be home with Him.