“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?… So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t forsake all that he has, he can’t be my disciple.” (Luke 14:28, 33)
These words of Jesus are often used as a warning that becoming a Christian will be costly, that we must be willing to pay the price, to give up the things we have, to follow Jesus. There is some truth to that, but his words go much deeper.
Jesus says the prospective tower builder counts the cost “to see if he has enough to complete it”. If the tower represents salvation, or being a Christian, or following Jesus, then who of us has enough to complete it? Alas, we are bankrupt before God.
Only a fool could think that giving up his wealth, his friendships, his time, his heart, would be enough to complete this tower. And only a fool would attempt it without first considering the cost.
Yes, Jesus calls each of us to count the cost. The cost is nothing less than the very life of the Son of God. No price we pay will be enough. This is the foundation of our faith. When we count the true cost, we see our desperate poverty, and we cry out to Him for mercy, that He would cancel our debt and build the tower for us.
And He has done it! He counted the cost and paid the full price.
But doesn’t He say we must be willing to give up everything for Him? “So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t forsake all that he has…”
First, He doesn’t say anything about being willing. He says we must.
Second, the word translated forsake here is a Greek word that means “bid farewell”, “say goodbye to”, “walk away from”. It is more than just giving away money or leaving a sinful relationship.
When we have counted the cost, we will see that all we have is worthless in this economy. Our stuff will get us nowhere with God. We can’t give enough, serve enough, work enough, repent enough, weep enough, pray enough, be good enough, or do anything else enough to pay the price.
Then we will abandon confidence in ourselves and consider our stuff rubbish that we may gain Christ and be found in Him.
He may well call us to give away our wealth, to be a missionary to the darkest place, to lay down our lives as martyrs. And we will know that this is not the cost. Those sacrifices will be our joy, the loss as nothing to us. For He has paid the price already.
Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him, saying, “This man began to build, and wasn’t able to finish.” (Luke 14:28-30)
Let no man mock you by trying to build the tower from your own resources. The cost is covered and the tower is completed in Christ.