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Calculate The Cost

Which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
–Luke 14:28

Before you sign on to this thing called Christianity, Jesus said you better calculate the cost. Because to not follow through on your commitment to Christ is to embarrass yourself and the kingdom of God. To illustrate that truth, Jesus gave us two parables in Luke 14.

First, He told a parable about a builder: “Which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’” (vv. 28-30). A farmer might build a tower to protect his crops against any animals or people who would try to destroy them. Jesus said this farmer laid the foundation for such a tower, but then he ran out of money. Not only was the farmer embarrassed but his crops were not protected.

New Testament scholar John Stott wrote about the embarrassment of these “derelict, half-built towers.” He said, “All too many people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of so-called nominal Christianity. In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become a little bit involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience. No wonder cynics complain of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism.”

Jesus told a second parable in verses 31-32: “What king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.” If you are going into battle, Jesus said, you better determine whether you have the ability and the willingness to win. He was alluding to the conflict you are going to experience as a follower of Christ. It is not going to be all health and wealth and prosperity. You better be prepared for the spiritual attack you are going to come under; otherwise, it is better not to enter into battle to begin with. That is why you have to calculate the cost of discipleship.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Becoming Salty Saints” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

John Stott, “Basic Christianity,” 50th anniversary ed. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2008), 132-33.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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