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Monday, April 28, 2014

Cheap or Costly Grace

One of my favorite authors is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, he wrote, “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship… Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again… It is costly because it cost a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

If you will read Luke 14:25-33, you will see how Jesus addresses those following Him who want to experience the excitement of His ministry without really being part of any commitment. Just on the sidelines is what I call Bonhoeffer’s “cheap grace” crowd. Jesus addresses their motives for being there. If they want to follow Him without making any personal sacrifice, they will never understand the depth of what it means to know Him. Three times he reveals why they can't be be a disciple: they love their family and their own desires more than Him; they will not carry their cross and follow Him, and they will not give up everything for His sake.

The Lord seeks a disciple who believes that loyalty and love for Him is greater than any other attachment or even his deepest relationship. He has counted the cost of this commitment, and is willing to pay it. He has placed himself completely under the guidance of His Master, and has a love for Him that is greater than he has for anyone or anything else. This disciple has resolved to give and also give up whatever is necessary to follow Him. Jesus’ question in Luke 14 about the crowd's willingness to give up everything is not addressed to those twelve disciples who have have already given everything. His question is directed to others on the sideline who offer quickly to serve, and then fade away when the cost of commitment becomes too great.

Jesus' requirement to “carry your cross” calls for a commitment to sacrificially follow Him, and make a daily decision to deny self. Each believer has a cross made just exactly for the amount of faith that needs to be tested and matured. His cross has to be more than he can bear, or he will not be spiritually stretched. Carrying our cross will mean nothing if it does not make us seek more of Him in order to carry it. Each one of us must be willing to honestly evaluate ourselves. Am I a part of that crowd that thinks I have carried my cross for Him only to discover I have little sticking power? Am I one who has cheapened His grace by not paying the price that is needed? Am I one who hasn't counted the cost? Am I on the sidelines or a disciple? Do I love other things more than Him? Have I sacrificially committed to follow Him? Where am I?

Lord, I don't want to be part of the “cheap grace” crowd, who by their callous hearts do not recognize the cost that was paid on the cross. I want to be one of the “costly grace” group, who understands the depth of your sacrifice, and gives all for you. I want to be spiritually stretched until I become all you see in me, and all that I haven’t realized myself. Take me and use me. I have counted the cost and I am willing the pay the price....whatever it might be.

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