CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
The Costs and Compensations of Following Christ
By Laurel J. Davis
See Laurel's blog at The Reluctant First Lady
Believing in Jesus as Savior and Lord doesn't mean your life will be a bed of roses. It will get hard.
That's a tough truth to swallow, especially in light of a lot of Christian teaching these days that would have us believe we are entitled to "heaven on earth."
But the Bible alerts us that, if we're really going to follow Jesus, we will go through tough times for His sake (e.g., 1 Peter 2:19-21).
But isn't He worth it? He shed His innocent blood on the cross for us. He paid the ultimate price for us. He gave His life as a ransom for us. Shouldn't we be willing to do anything, give up anything, go through anything for Him? (1 Peter 3:19-21)
Yes, it costs to be a Christian. But we also know that, even in the midst of our trials, we are never forsaken. The assurance of eternal life that comes as a result of believing in Jesus brings with it hope and peace for this life, too.
As the Apostle Paul discovered, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35-39).
We can be just as persuaded as Paul was — come what may.
Matthew 10:22-39 gives an excellent sense of the costs and compensations we should expect as we endeavor to live for Christ. Verse 22 says, "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake." Have you ever been singled out because of your stand for the truth of God's Word? That's a cost for committing your life to Christ. But the rest of the verse gives the compensation: "But he who endures to the end will be saved." Galatians 6:9 comes to mind: "Weary not in well-doing, for in due season you shall reap if you faint not."
We have additional promise at Matthew 10:32-33: "Therefore, whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven." Freely and unashamedly claiming the name of Jesus, is our eternal shield.
Of course, there are some more costs, like having to change our priorities in life, and this is where it literally hits close to home. As Matthew 10:37 warns, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." Jesus is to come first before everything. Period.
Then Matthew 10:38 brings it to the truly ultimate cost: "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." We have our own crosses of suffering and sacrifice to bear; and our commitment to Christ is partly measured by how willing we are to bear those crosses for Him just like He bore His for us.
But — Hallelujah! — the accompanying compensation is, once again, right there! The very next verse (Matthew 10:39) says it, but John 12:25-26 elaborates: "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My father will honor."
It costs to follow Jesus, but it "pays" with worthiness and honor from God!
Image Credit: korafotomorgana; "cell #1842"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Hardships | Jesus-Christ
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Published on 1-25-16