Cost of discipleship
Jesus mentioned three major costs discipleship. “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” (Matt 16:24).
(1) Self denial & Denial of self
‘Self denial’ is letting go of what you desire for the sake of a cause that will benefit others. It is the willingness to forsake possessions or status for the sake of the gospel. ‘Self denial’ is when you choose to do without what you could have had in order to please the Lord. It is to bring personal discomfort upon oneself for others to be comforted. This is an example of what Jesus did to save mankind. He denied Himself of his position in heaven to come to this earth and offered himself as propitiation for our sins.
Denial of self must precede self denial.
Denial of self is denying who one is as a person; he must renounce himself or say no to himself. Jesus made Himself of no reputation before He could offer to die for man. This is ‘Denial of Self’. ‘Self’ actually is an ‘Occupant’ inside of man. ‘Self’ exerts authority inside a man. Until ‘Self’ is dead at the cross, this man cannot deny himself of any pleasure of life to serve Christ. A man who sees himself as wealthy or highly positioned cannot actually serve anyone under him until he is dead to his ‘Self.’ Jesus said: “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33) Those who love their riches, positions and desires more than they love God cannot be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Some converts will never grow to become disciples of Christ because many are lovers of themselves. Such believers are disqualified from being disciples of Jesus. (2 Tim 3:1-5).
Many have had to deny themselves of their chosen careers to go on foreign missions and do the will of God for their lives. Some disciples of Jesus in the marketplace have walked away from great financial ‘breakthroughs’ because they cannot partake in fraud or sharp practices. Many disciples of Jesus are using their finances to sponsor the preaching of the gospel and caring for the needy instead of living in luxury. Self denial is a requirement, condition and term for discipleship.
(2) Let him take up his cross
A disciple’s cross is his assignment for the kingdom. Jesus took up His cross which led Him to Golgotha, where he fulfilled His assignment as the Lamb of God. He was offered as a sacrifice for our sins. That was what jesus came to earth to do. he came to offer himself as propitiation for our sins. When He was tired and collapsed under the weight of his cross, God sent a helper to help him. He followed His cross and eventually carried it to its destination where it was erected and they crucified Him on it. Jesus carried His cross to the end and fulfilled His assignment.
Therefore, to be a disciple of Jesus, you need to deny yourself and take up your cross. There is a cross for every disciple of jesus to carry. Take up your cross. Do not carry someone else’s cross. Let Jesus show you your cross and be ready to carry it to the end. Your cross may require you to eventually give up your life for the cause of the Gospel or it may not. Whatever your cross requires, Jesus said you must carry it.
A cross-less believer cannot be a disciple of Christ. What are you living for as a follower of Christ? You cannot follow Jesus and be living for money, position and honour. God may bless you with all these things, but those are not the things you should be living for as a disciple of Jesus. There must be something you are doing for God with all the things He has blessed you with. There must be a burden laid upon your heart by the Lord.
When God gives you the strength of finances, use it to carry your cross. Whichever area of strength the Lord has given you, be it talents, position, knowledge or spiritual gifts, it is for the purpose of carrying your cross and following the Lord. Surely, you will be tempted to use your God-given grace for self aggrandizement. Do not go with the Tempter. You need a lot of self denial. Carry your cross and follow Jesus to the end.
You must take up your cross daily.
Do not abandon your cross at anytime. Carry it daily, dutifully and faithfully. If you are getting tired or confused, go back to God and receive strength. Jesus needed help on the way to Golgotha and God sent him an helper. If you need help too, God will send helpers your way.
(3) Let him follow me
You cannot carry your cross and go to a different direction from the path of Jesus. The path of Jesus is the path of holiness and righteousness. Those who walk in wickedness, immorality and unrighteousness are not disciples of Jesus even if they are church leaders. Jesus said; ‘let him follow me’. A disciple of Jesus denies himself, takes up his cross and follow Jesus.
Do not look back
“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and
looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
Anyone who puts his hands on the plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God. No matter what is calling for your attention to distract you, do not look back. Put your focus on Jesus and keep following till the end of your days.
Be of good cheer
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Disciples of Jesus do not get offended at God when they have to go through trials and tribulations. Tribulation and trials shall come, but be of good cheer and keep following. Be totally committed to Jesus and follow Him to the end.