By Don R. Hastings
Many people are concerned with the high cost of living today. However, few have paid any attention to the high cost of discipleship. Even many, who are the disciples of the Lord, have given very little thought to the cost for the privilege of being His disciples. One major reason for this unconcern is that many are unaware of the demands the Lord has placed upon His disciples. In our efforts to convert others, we emphasize the wonderful privileges that a Christian enjoys. However, we have failed to point out, with equal fervor, the great responsibilities imposed by the Lord upon those who would become His disciples! We have failed to present the complete picture. This ought not to be!
It seems to be a trait of mankind to want something for nothing. This is, particularly, true in the religious realm. We want the joy of wearing the name Christian, our sins washed away, fellowship with the Father, prayer, having hope of receiving the crown of life, etc. Yet, we do not want to accept the responsibilities that go along with such highly esteemed blessings.
What is the high cost of discipleship? The Lord has answered this question very clearly and emphatically. We must permit His answer to impress itself deeply upon our hearts that we may examine ourselves to see if we are paying the cost, and so we can teach others what ‘the Lord expects of them should they desire to become His followers. The Lord wants us to inform others of the cost. He did (Luke 9:57-62). Here is what it costs to be the Lord’s disciple:
We Must Place The Lord Above Everyone!
“If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). No one is permitted to come between the Lord and our worship and service to Him. He demands, and deserves, first place in our lives (Matt. 6:33; 22:37). We must not allow our parents to hinder our obedience to Him. We cannot permit our husband, wife, or children to interfere with our faithful service to Him (Matt. 10:37). Many have allowed others to keep them from obeying the Lord and becoming His disciples. Some, who have become Christians, are not worthy to be the Lord’s disciples for they have allowed others to hinder them from doing their Master’s will.
We Must Sacrifice Worldly Pleasures, Desires, Passions, and Live For Him!
“Then said Jesus unto His disciples, if any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). It is hard to practice self-denial, but we must. We must put to death our old man of sin (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 5:24). Paul was a wonderful child of God because he had accomplished this difficult task (Gal. 2:20). We must crucify our fleshly desires if Christ is going to live, and reign, within us. Our first thought, in every situation, should always be, “What would Christ want me to do?” Having discerned His will in the matter, we should proceed to do it. The cross which we are called to bear is an emblem of sacrifice. Christ sacrificed His life on His cross for us. What are we sacrificing on our cross for Him? When we refuse to assemble with the saints because we are too tired, have company, the weather is bad, want to go somewhere else, etc., are we practicing self-denial? No! When we look at some filthy picture at the theater, on television, in a book, etc., are we practicing self-denial? No! You can make further application of this principle.
We Must Renounce All That Is Ours For Him!
“So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Paul said, “. . . I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ . . . ” (Phil. 3:8). This is the precise attitude every disciple must possess towards his wordly attainments and possessions if he is to be a worthy disciple. With this attitude, we will not permit the pursuit of worldly riches, knowledge, fame, etc., to come above our service to the Lord. Nothing on this earth is as valuable as the Lord’s approval of us. We must be willing to give up anything that hinders us from putting “on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14).
We Must Continually Abide In His Word!
“Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples” (John 8:31). We must not go beyond the teachings of Christ (2 John 9). This means that we must have book, chapter and verse for everything we believe and practice. The silence of the Lord is prohibitive. If what we are doing cannot be found in His Work, we are not His true disciples.
Are You Paying the Price of Discipleship?
Examine yourself and see. If you are not, do not expect the Lord to reward you. If you are paying the cost, you should not feel that you are earning the “crown of life” (Luke 17:10). However, because you are doing your part, God through His grace, will give it to you (Eph. 2:8,9). If you think the cost is too great, then think about the consequences of refusing to pay 2 Thess. 1:7-9).
Truth Magazine XXII: 48, p. 777
December 7, 1978