Interestingly enough, Scripture counsels followers of Jesus Christ to do much the same thing. When He was speaking to a multitude, Christ warned His listeners, “If anyone comes to Me and does not [love less] his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it, lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’” (Luke 14:26-30).
To be a true disciple of Jesus Christ, one must first “count the cost” before embarking on the Christian journey. A game show contestant who counts incorrectly will simply forfeit the opportunity to win a prize. A Christian, however, who does not recognize and make the needed effort to succeed (to “win” the race), will forfeit a place in the coming Kingdom of God, and will lose out on eternal life.
In verse 27, Christ emphasized that in order to become His disciple, one must be willing to make life-changing choices. Christians must be more eager to please God than to please their own family members. They must value their Christian commitment even more than their physical lives.
How does one achieve this vital goal? The gospel of Matthew records Christ’s words: “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17).
Without repentance, Christian living is not possible. Unless we are willing to bear our own cross—to put God first, and to “crucify” our carnal human nature and instead live God’s way—we have not correctly “counted the cost” of discipleship.
However, if we do surrender to Christ, He will bring about a great transformation in our lives. The Apostle Paul wrote: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment [counting the cost], that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).
Our eternal destiny is not a game show. John’s gospel soberly reminds us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The soon-coming Kingdom of God is a wonderful reality, which Jesus Christ came to the earth to proclaim, and which He will soon return to the earth to establish. He paid a great price by His death, and His resurrection paved the way for today’s Christians, who anticipate their own birth into the Kingdom of God at His return.