In the previous two articles we looked at what it means to “walk by faith” from Luke 14:25-33. This passage frames the positive virtue of “walking by faith” in terms of three negative “my disciple” statements. You might think of them as the three great costs of discipleship.
The first cost, in verse 26, is that a disciple will choose to love Jesus more than his own family. Then, as now, a person prioritized their relationship with their family over any other earthly relationship. Jesus is saying, “if you want to be my disciple then you have to prioritize your love for me over your love for anybody else in this world.”
Cost number two is at the end of verse 26 and fleshed out with a word picture in verse 27. Not only do we prioritize our allegiance to Jesus over any earthly relationship, we also prioritize our allegiance to Jesus over our allegiance to ourselves. This involves a daily decision to “take up our cross” and die to ourselves. Self-denial is a mark of genuine disciples of Jesus.
Loving Jesus More Than Your Stuff
The third cost of being a disciple of Jesus explained is summed up in verse 33.
“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, it means you must renounce everything that you have for Jesus.
To unpack this last cost of discipleship Jesus tells a parable. The first parable is about a builder building a tower. The second is about a king who is going to battle. In both parables, the point of the story is to count the cost before you start and do not start unless you intend to finish. Don’t make a commitment casually and don’t make a commitment you don’t plan to keep.
You’ll be largely ineffective as a follower of Jesus unless you know what you’re getting into and plan to finish what you start.
To put it simply, being a disciple of Jesus means that every person must give up everything. Choosing to be a follower of Jesus is not small thing. It’s not “easy” to be a follower of Christ It requires faith. Disciples of Jesus walk by faith. They prioritize their commitment to Jesus over their commitment to family, friends, themselves or their stuff. Everything must be subordinate to Jesus.
The Life of Faith & Death of Idols
Let’s put our three questions back to back.
- Will I love Jesus more than my earthy dearest?
- Will I love Jesus more than myself?
- Will I love Jesus more than my stuff?
These questions target the great God-substitutes when it comes to walking by faith.
Are you going to trust in your self or trust in the Lord?
Will you find security in your stuff or in Christ your Savior?
Will you find your confidence in the LORD or in your role as a parent or spouse?
Notice that these God-substitutes aren’t bad things. They’re just secondary things. Anytime we make a secondary thing a primary thing we pay a price. The Bible calls this idolatry.
Prioritizing the creation over the Creator only invites destruction to your mind, body and soul. It cannot be sustained in the life of a true disciple of Jesus.
If you want to be a disciple of Jesus then it means choosing to walk by faith, day by day, moment by moment, for all of your life.
It means you will prioritize faith in Christ over faith in yourself. You will prioritize faith in Christ over faith in your family or friends. You will prioritize faith in Christ over faith in your stuff.
These first three “my disciple” statements are really all about surrendering to and savoring Jesus Christ above all.
You surrender everything so that you might have him; and, having gained him, you choose to treasure him over any other worldly treasure. Discipleship is considering everyone and everything, even our own lives, as subordinate to our allegiance to Jesus.
Jesus demands absolute supremacy in your life. You cannot become a disciple without radically committing yourself to Him by faith.
Counting The Cost
In some ways, the heading above this teaching from Jesus in my Bible is unfortunate. It isn’t untrue. There is a cost to discipleship. But there’s also a cost to non-discipleship.
You do lose something in choosing to follow Jesus. But in choosing not to follow him you lose even more. Jesus said it this way in Matthew 16:25-26
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
All that you lose in the cost of discipleship is more than made up for through what you gain in Jesus Christ.
That “gain” is likened to a treasure in a field and a pearl of great price in Matthew 13:44-46. That kind of gain is yours for the taking if you will only receive it by faith.
Disciples of Jesus walk by faith. In the following couple of weeks you’ll see the remaining three characteristics of a disciple. But, in many ways, this first characteristic is the most important.
The Triangle Of Discipleship
The remaining three characteristics relate to three main relational arenas in the life of a disciple. I call it the triangle of discipleship. The triangle consists of your relationship with God at the top, your relationship with believers to the left, and your relationship with unbelievers to the right.
Disciples abide in the Word, love one another and bear much fruit. These three characteristics correlate with those three relational arenas respectively. But faith is what moves the disciple along at each point.
By faith you love Christ more than you love anyone else. That’s what it means to abide in the Word.
By faith you love other believers even above yourself.
By faith you love the world more than you love your stuff.
Is it coincidental that the three costs of discipleship correlate with the three relational arenas of discipleship? I don’t think so. You walk by faith in each of these three relational arenas.
The longer you do that the more mature you’ll become as a follower of Jesus.