Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Many Christians have heard these words but few of us have applied them to our lives. We would rather hear a message that tells us that God wants to fulfill our wildest dreams and to make us healthy, wealthy and wise. No one wants to think about the necessity of self-denial.
Yet we cannot get around the fact that these words were spoken by Jesus to those who seek to follow Him. On another occasion Jesus said:
Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build , and was not able to finish. 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Jeremiah the prophet understood the cost of being one of God’s servants.
Jeremiah 16:1 The word of the LORD came also unto me, saying, 2 Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place. 3 For thus saith the LORD concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land; 4 They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried…
Jeremiah was prohibited from marrying or raising a family. We might ask why God would put such a harsh restriction upon one of His choicest servants. It was not because marriage is sinful; but as an illustration for the nation of Israel. A day of judgment was coming when many of them would see their family members slaughtered under the Babylonian invasion and there would be no time to mourn their deaths or even to bury them.
Recently I listened to a message by Andy Stanley in which he made a statement that has stuck with me:
Salvation is free,
but following Christ costs me something
Only the Lord knows what price each of us will have to pay in order to be one of the Lord’s disciples. For some it will involve where we live or how we make a living. For others it will involve our friends or even our family. Some pay a price that involves their health while others pay a price that involves their life. Yet regardless of what the cost may be, each of us will have to make a personal decision as to whether or not we are willing to pay it. Let us never forget what our Lord has said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”