Posts Tagged ‘money’

What’s The Cost?

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

How much does it cost?

I read an article this week that estimated the cost of raising a child to age eighteen. According to a study, the average parent will spend about $250,000 just to get a child to the point where they can incur really serious debt for college.

The writer speculated whether this data would have serious impact on family planning decisions. I don’t think it will, and her question reminded me that we frequently set goals or commit to obligations without really considering the costs.

We claim the freedom Jesus conveys, but we forget sometimes that being His apprentice carries a price. Following Jesus isn’t free.

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” [Luke 14:25-33]

Jesus employed hyperbole to make a point; He certainly didn’t teach that we ought to literally “hate” anyone, but He was clear that God’s Kingdom involves a radically altered set of priorities.

So what does it “cost” me to follow Jesus? I thought it might be interesting to list at least a few lines in my own itemized price list.

* Revenge. Instead or retaliating when someone hurts me, Jesus tells me to forgive when it’s the very last thing I want to do.
* Superiority. I want to be right, win the argument, and crush inferior ideas, but Jesus reminds me to keep my eyes on the concerns of His Kingdom and to avoid foolish quarrels over foolish things.
* Power. Rather than demanding that others meet my needs and fulfill my desires. Jesus tells me to adopt an attitude of humility and service.
* Control. When I demand the right to establish my own rules and follow my own path, Jesus says, “Obey God.”
* Judgment. I want punishment for those who break the rules, but Jesus says it’s not even my place to judge.
* Attention/admiration. When I want others to know what a good guy I am, when I desire extra credit for all of the wonderful things I do (J), Jesus tells me to do my good deeds in secret.
* Security. While I worry about the future and plan for every contingency. Jesus tells me to trust that God will provide.
* Ownership. I worked for it, I earned it, and it’s mine—and Jesus reminds me that I’m just a steward, that none of it belongs to me.

My incomplete list mostly reminds me that I’ve done little to demonstrate that I’m willing to pay the price of discipleship. My debt increases moment by moment along with awareness that I’ll never be able to pay.

I desire to do better, but I already know I’ll fail. I can’t possibly meet the standard. I can talk about surrender, but I’ll never achieve it. Following Jesus carries a price tag that I’m unable and unwilling to pay. I might as well just give up. It’s hopeless.

And as soon as I acknowledge that I can’t meet the requirements, He reminds me that He already paid the price on my behalf. That’s the wonder of grace—amazing grace, Relentless Grace, unmerited, infinite grace.

It’s not hopeless, because He knew the cost of obedience and surrender, accepted it willingly, and settled my debt. He went to the cross so we could receive the benefits of an apprenticeship we can’t possibly fulfill.

Two questions: First, what would you add to my list of costs? Second, what’s your response when you realize that He paid the price for you?

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Copyright 2009 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:
Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance
. Visit his web site