The process of discipleship

Devotional thoughts for April 2021

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... where I discuss the thinking that led to this article.)

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “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. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Luke 14:25–34, NIV)

In the NIV Bible that I use most often, the editors included a title to introduce Luke 14:25-34. It says, “The Cost of Discipleship.” Fortunately, most Bible readers know that extra-textual notes like these are neither inspired nor inerrant… because when I read on, I see an error. The passage is not about the cost of discipleship; it’s about the process of discipleship. The cost is merely one of four aspects of the process. Let me touch on each briefly.

The first aspect is that the work comes first. By “first” I do not mean first in the order of appearance or actions... although that may also be true. I mean first in importance. The work is our primary and overarching objective; nothing should stand in its way.

The second aspect is that we need to count the cost of discipleship. People are quick to start projects or volunteer for the Lord’s work, but it is rare to find someone who follows a project through to the end. These people are usually the ones who have an idea of the difficulties ahead, so they lay their sacrifices at the foot of the cross before they get going.

The third aspect is a call to be mature. Rarely will a project go as planned, and sometimes we need to compromise to complete the project. I’m not talking about compromising on doctrine… like the deity of Christ or the Trinity. But, if the only way you can complete the project is to cut away noncritical parts of your plan, that’s what God wants you to do. God does not want us to melt down when things don’t go exactly as we planned. He wants us to persevere to the end.

The fourth aspect is that our work reveals the truth — and salt does that. Salt does not add to the flavor of food; it reveals it. If you have established your priorities, considered the difficulties ahead of you and have carried the project through to the end by compromising when appropriate, you are the salty kind of salt. You are not the kind that people will trample underfoot.

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20210329 The process of discipleship).

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