Which of you does not first sit down and count the cost? — Luke 14:28
What has it cost you to follow Jesus? Stop and really think about that before you read on. How did your life change when you decided to follow Him. What do you do now that you didn’t do before? What do you not do now that you did do before? What was the price tag for you to ask Jesus Christ to forgive you and come into your heart?
My wife has my favorite answer so far. She got saved when she was really young. She says she gave up the acceptance of the popular in-crowd to follow Jesus. I recently went with her to her 50th high school reunion (just kidding baby), and it was clear to me that had she wanted the acceptance of the popular crowd, she could have made a few compromises and been completely accepted. She chose the God-life over the good life in high school.
Me on the other hand, it didn’t cost me anything. I “accepted” the Lord, then continued to do everything I wanted to do. It didn’t cause me to live pure, didn’t cause me to pursue holiness, and if my crowd had found out what I actually believed in my heart, they would have been surprised because my life didn’t reflect it one bit. I don’t want you to think I was awful, but I was a compromiser…a hypocrite. I was a chameleon that could turn in to a church person, then turn into a party person at will.
On January 23rd, 1998 I finally looked at the price tag. The only reason I know this is because I wrote it down in a journal. It is very clear that I knew then that I had not counted the cost. I had to make some changes in my life. I told God I was sorry for living life on my own terms, I was ready to live life on His. I finally began to pay the price.
I have been through the school of “God gives you salvation and you can do what you want.” That school leaves you so empty. It’s like the athletes and lottery winners that are given millions of dollars…they are broke in 5 to 10 years because they don’t appreciate it. Many Christians today have “received” salvation, but like my old self, they have no idea how to treasure it…to treat it as valuable.
I have also been through the school of “God demands perfection from you.” That school leaves you frustrated and hopeless. I can’t stand to see garbage like “oh, you went to THAT concert…good thing Jesus didn’t come back!” Or, “you mean you went THERE and did THAT? You are going to Hell! You are supposed to be saved!” Pharisees said that kind of stuff to Jesus all the time.
Both of these schools are really dangerous. The first produces a bunch of people who say they are Christians, but still live like hell. The second produces a bunch of Pharisees who cause the rest of the world to run from Christianity like the plague.
I believe that every person who is a Christian or wants to be a Christian should sit down and really evaluate what it costs to follow Jesus. In view of His mercy, we should offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him…this is our spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
For a Christian, sex outside of marriage is sin…are you willing to deny yourself?
For a Christian, lying is a sin…are you willing to tell the truth!
For a Christian, laziness is a sin…if a man does not work, he should not eat! (2 Corinthians 3:10) Are you willing to work?
Now, does God forgive these things? I sure hope so because I’ve done them all! But, there also must be a point in time where that junk stops! There must be a point where “old things pass away, and all things become new.“ (2 Corinthians 5:17) We must come to a place in our lives where we say “I do not care what the world says or thinks about me, I am going to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength. Every rule He has made for me is for my own good.” Then, and only then, will you begin to experience the abundant life. You will appreciate and value it. You will soon find the best thing of all…
Your life before Christ wasn’t really life at all.