Devotional Thoughts for Today
Under the same subject (denying oneself to be a Christ’s disciple), two parables with different emphasis are given.
Lk 14:26-33 (NIV): “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.  And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?  For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,  saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’  Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.  In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
During a service many years ago, the pastor of my church asked that if anyone was willing to foot the large bill for something the church needed, to raise their hands. After a few seconds of uneasiness, especially among the elders, several people complied. While that’s a commitment, they likely didn’t have enough time to “calculate the cost to see if [they had] enough to complete” what was promised. Some who could not give may have left the church, not wanting to be ridiculed.
There are two components to “giving up everything to be a Christ’s disciple”: rationality and faith.
First, be rational by committing to something “according to what one has,” whether it be money and/or time, “not according to what he does not have” (2 Cor. 8:12). This, however, is not necessarily borne of faith, which is “being . . . certain of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). Therefore, we must up the “ante” (i.e., commitment) so that “your faith grows” (2 Cor. 10:15). The increase in the commitment level must be incremental—a result of “sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Rom. 12:3) at that moment in life. Some people, pressured by those who appear more committed, who try to jump several hurdles all at once, are likely to become bitter and complain later on.
As our commitment level grows, we’ll reach a point where we may be ready to surrender all aspects of our lives to the “King of kings” (1 Tim. 6:15), which is what the second parable shows. The “kings” refer to us who are in charge of our own lives, but upon seeing that the KING, who comes to conquer, is stronger than us, then, instead of fighting, we’ll surrender. Those who haven’t added faith to their rationality will put up a losing fight; those who have will yield, allowing the KING to rule them wherein they encounter righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17).
How is your commitment level with God? Are you making the right calculation? If so, are you adding faith thereafter to ensure that you grow? Think about it and make changes.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 65
Lunch Break Study
Read Lk. 9:57-62 (NASB): “As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You go.’  And Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.’  And He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.’  But He said to him, ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.’  Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.’  But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
Lk. 16:13 (ESV): “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Question to Consider
- The first layer of commitment is developing a sense of detachment from certain good things, but nonetheless, can pull us away from God. What are these “certain good things”?
- In these two passages, is Jesus asking us to merely have a sense of detachment or act upon it? How are they responding?
- What are you struggling with at the moment? A better question is, “What is God telling you to act upon (based on your calculation+faith) to take you to the next level of commitment for Him?”
- A desire to have a nice place to lay one’s head; family relationships; economic success (the plowing); having enough money (however that is constituted in one’s mind).
- Jesus is asking those who said they wanted to follow him to act up on their sense of detachment from these good things. Understandably, they were struggling with what was asked of them. And if we are not in the habit of adding faith to our rationality, this will always be a big struggle.
- If it is money, while you don’t have to give a big chunk every time you offer (tithing will do most of the times), you may need to offer an amount that strongly symbolizes a sense detachment from it. If it is family ties, you should practice being away from them for the sake of God’s work, whether it be one day or week, or more.
Did you encounter opportunities to deny yourself to follow Christ today? It doesn’t have to be an earthshaking event. How did you handle it? Review your day; reflect and pray.