Nothing is free.
A few years ago, I decided to make going to the gym a permanent habit.
I’ve always enjoyed lifting weights, but I’ve been inconsistent. I’d lift for a few months and then not again for a year. Not exactly the best method for strength training.
I made this decision because I saw that many of the things that make us sick or weak in our later years could be avoided with simple actions earlier in life. So, I headed back to the gym to get the barbell bloats. (That’s a Beverly Hillbillies reference for us properly cultured readers to enjoy).
This change, however, wasn’t without cost. Specifically, it costs a few hours of sleep each week.
I schedule my morning around having my quiet time at 6 AM and then spending 6:30 to 7 with Donna watching the news. That time is important. As a pastor, I’m never completely sure what my day holds. The flexibility of the ministry allows Donna and me to have that time.
To be at my kitchen table at 6 AM, I need to be in the gym fairly early. On gym days, I drag myself out of bed before the sun comes up and head out.
It’s not always easy, but I’ve already made the decision. Since I want to remain healthy as I age, I get up and go. It’s that simple.
We’ve all experienced this type of decision. We are pulled in many directions: work, bills, family, and church. To prioritize, we must count the cost of placing one thing over another. These decisions determine how we spend our time and money, with both being limited.
Recently in my quiet time, I came across Jesus talking about this same concept, but with greater consequences than deciding to squat at 4 AM.
In Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple (NASB).”
He continued the challenge in Luke 14:28 by saying, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it (NASB)?”
Every decision costs something.
No decision costs more than following Jesus.
Admittedly, Jesus’ words in Luke 14:26 sound harsh. Matthew 10:37 sheds light on Jesus’s meaning. He said, “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 (NASB).”
To decide to follow Jesus is to decide to place Him before all things.
That’s the cost. Nothing else can come first.
The moment we repent of our sin and place our faith in Jesus as Lord (Acts 20:20-21), we are no longer in charge of our lives. Jesus is boss. Spouses, parents, siblings, work, and school all come second.
Honestly though, it’s hard to keep Jesus first. The great triumvirate of the world, the flesh, and the devil wage a constant war against our surrender to Christ. This fight is why Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me (NASB).”
To follow Him, we must make daily decisions that honor Him.
Decide now not to gossip.
Decide now not to lie.
Decide now not to take a second look at someone who is not your spouse.
Decide now to have your quiet time.
Decide now to forgive.
Decide now to pray for a lost person you love.
Decide now, before the temptation comes, to follow Jesus.
Your life is no longer your own.
You owe your life, love, and obedience to Jesus.
That’s the cost.
For fun, here’s what I was talking about from the Beverly Hillbillies: