When I took Economics as freshman in college, I was introduced to the idea of an opportunity cost. An opportunity cost is determined by finding the value of the loss of one possible gain when another gain is chosen. This idea gave birth to the phrase “there’s no such thing as a ‘free lunch'”, meaning that every time we make a choice to do one thing, we lose the ability to choose to do something else. Choosing to go to lunch at this restaurant may mean losing time to run an errand at the other side of town; choosing to work at this company could mean not having the opportunity to live in the city you’ve always dreamed of. Our life is full of making choices and counting the cost of the choices made.
This lesson of an opportunity cost applies also to our spiritual life. The salvation we as children of God received came at a cost. It was bought with the blood of an innocent lamb. Jesus counted the cost of the sacrifice He was making, and He calls us to do the same. Salvation through Jesus Christ is free; faithfulness to Jesus Christ is not. He calls us to see that we are indeed called to give up something in order to follow him. But, as the Word says, Christ is always the perfect the example of the commands He calls us to follow
How Jesus Counted The Cost
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.(Hebrews 12:2 ESV)
God the Father, in His steadfast love and sovereignty, sent His only begotten Son to die for the sins of humanity. God made a way for man to reconcile back with Him. That way is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us. These verses in Philippians and Hebrews show us some of the greatest costs Jesus paid for us. Jesus is part of the Triune God: Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. Jesus had been in perfect community, intimacy, and happiness with the Father and Holy Spirit since before the beginning of time. But, in being obedient, Jesus left the side of God in paradise and robed Himself in frail humanity to walk as one of us, to live as one of us, but without sin, and to die because of us. His divinity, although fully inside of Him, was not something He took advantage of. He had to pray like we have to pray; He had to learn and grow as we learn and grow; He petitioned the Father for strength, for nearness, for presence. His mission on earth was not complete until he had endured the sinners’ punishment of the cross, encountered and bore the sinners’ shame, and lastly died the sinners’ death. But He endured all of this for the joy set before of Him of obeying the Father and being exalted high above seated at the right hand of God. His choice to be obedient cost Him His life; and it bought us our ticket to redemption. Jesus counted the cost and concluded that obedience to the Father was worth more than any pain, any suffering, and conclusion His life on earth would bring. The opportunity to bring many sons to salvation was worth the cost of the sacrifice. 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:41-42)
How We Count the Cost
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9: 23-25)
Jesus had just finished telling his disciples that He, the Son of Man, would have to suffer rejection and death but would be raised on the third day. Right after that shocking revelation He spoke these words to them, the cost of following Him. I remember reading these words as a young boy and the words “deny himself” always rang loud. I have never been good with denying myself. On the contrary, I am very good at be self-satisfying and self-pleasing. I naturally and joyfully make my life all about me. And we live in a world where that mantra is celebrated and expected. But here come Jesus, with words that pungently cut through the aroma of the selfishness and the self-centeredness that ravage this fallen world. The cost of following Jesus is denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Him. Jesus says that by trying to keep your life, in other words live your life on your terms with disregard for the will of God, you actually lose it. In Matthew 19, Jesus gave the same command to the rich young ruler. He told him to go and sell everything he had and then come follow Him. Instead, the rich young ruler left saddened by these words for he had “great possessions”. If only the young, materially-enslaved ruler understood Jesus’s words. If only he knew that by giving up his everything, in Jesus he would actually receive everything. The grip he had on his possessions was actually his possessions having a grip on his soul. He did not realize that in the denying himself of these temporary, fleeting, worldly pleasures and excitements, that that was actually storing up for himself treasures in Heaven. And if we are honest, we are the rich, young ruler every time we choose sin over Christ. We are choosing to believe that by giving in to the desires of our flesh, that we are actually finding life. But only in denying ourselves of the satisfaction of the flesh, and choosing to believe, with fear and trembling, that pleasures are truly evermore in His right hand, will we actually find the satisfaction our soul so desperately craves.
I wrote this article because I feel many people do not think they have to give up ways of living, habits, or mindsets when coming to Christ. As one of my favorite authors puts it, repentance is the threshold to God. The cost of following Jesus is choosing to deny the life the flesh says you need, believe the in the life Jesus offers through His sacrifice, and carrying the cross of sanctification daily. This cross makes us more like our Lord and Savior (2 Corinthians 3:18). God is the God of endurance and encouragement (Romans 15:5), knowing that the suffering we endure here not only produces a hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:3 – 5) but also is not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us (Romans 8:18). The opportunity cost of giving up the right to please ourselves by allowing God to sovereignty choose for us is worth it. Christ denied and sacrifice Himself for us. It cost Him is life. So let me ask you, what is following Christ costing you?