FROM whom great things are required, boundless rewards are offered, if the One who makes the rules is just. That is what every disciple of Jesus Christ has agreed, by faith, is the case. But we inevitably fall short. And still the rewards are unfathomably good:
“Anyone who counts the cost of discipleship has completely failed to grasp the greatness of the reward.”
— Francis Wright Beare
And yet discipleship — to follow Christ; with persistence and perseverance; growing in faith and repentance; all the years of our lives — demands everything we have and all that we are. A cost no less than this bears heavily on the graveness of the decision we first made; the ignorant precedent-for-faith that cast the die for the thousands of decisions to come; or, the fully-informed and well-intentioned decision made by the unction of the Holy Spirit.
Consider the fact that with each decision there’s the continual threat of our unfaithfulness.
And yet none of that matters, because of what Christ has done. None of our obedience matters, due the grace of God that saves us, yet it all matters, because we’re saved by grace through faith; not works per se, but true faith is visible through the fruit we bear.
Jesus’ parable of the sower in Matthew 13 confirms it. Only the seed sown in good soil produces a crop that manifests abundantly, one hundred, sixty, and thirtyfold yields.
The desire to be fruitful connects with discipleship. Belief in the ends secures the means.
Discipleship is not seen as a cost for the person who’s had their heart transformed.
That’s the fundamental difference and benefit between God’s seed sown in good soil versus His seed sown on the rock-hard path, in rocky ground or thorny soil.
The cost of discipleship is in so many ways only a consideration for those who are still wrestling with the benefit of discipleship. Yet, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit we never have our relationship with Christ so much together as to never count the cost. The fact is discipleship does cost. Perseverance is always required; to the end (Matthew 24:13).
We count that cost most when life is especially tough — when we’re growing most in Christ. Yet, there’s also a time when we’re humble enough to thrive on tests because we don’t consider ourselves better than for testing. But pride is known to rise, and counting the cost is normative for our writhing flesh.
A disciple of Jesus is someone who knows who they are, in Christ, but also in reality. They keep both truths in the forefront of their mind. They treasure both truths in their heart. That knowledge convicts them, because who they are about is holiness and sin. It convicts them toward change and transformation because of the Holy Spirit.