Paul writes about what he does, how he does it and for what reasons. In each of his interactions, whether it concerns food, freedom, income, self-discipline, temptation or loyalty, he says, “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” He has counted the cost, and has found that the blessings that come from following Christ far outweigh other things that might vie for his attention and affection. Paul is all about doing everything for the praise of God. May we live life with clear purposes and ultimate goals, because in the end, what really matters most? This radically God-focused lifestyle does not come about on a whim but requires careful thought. What have we been saved from? What have we been saved for? What does “for the sake of the gospel” mean? Is the cost worth it? What do we give up and what do we take up?
With serious compassion Jesus answered some of those questions by saying, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” He told this to His disciples as He sent them out with power to be change-agents for good. He shared the price of this discipleship to the crowds that gathered around Him. When a man seeking Jesus’ approval who thought that he had met the requirements by the law heard directly from Jesus that he needed to put Him above his own riches and take up the cross to follow Him, he calculated that the cost was too high. Even though Jesus loved this rich, young ruler, He honored the man’s choice and the man walked away sad. God, today You give to us the choice to follow You or not. I pray that we would grow in our confidence through Your Word and through Your Spirit, that You are worth the cost. I pray we would embrace afresh the good news that You love us and that no matter what, You are worth following. Amen.