ACDTS 20:22-24: “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: What is more important to me – my comfort, or to fulfill the will of God in my life? Am I truly willing to count the cost of discipleship? In America we have exchanged the pure message of the Cross for a message of convenience. We have fulfilled the words of the Apostle Paul as he spoke to the Ephesians – ACTS 20:29-30″ “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”
What are the “twisted things” that are trying to draw the flock away today? They are the false promises of blessing without sacrifice, discipleship without counting the cost. This message has been strained over the last decade as our nation has fallen upon hard times, but it is still popular. It still gathers a crowd who would rather be told all is well than we all need to repent. How far have we fallen from the words of the Apostle Paul – “…I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel of the Grace of God.”
In countries all over the world fellow believers are risking all to follow Jesus Christ. Persecution and costly discipleship are not something that is limited to Fox’s Book of Martyrs, it is something we read about in our daily newspaper. Yet, in America, we still try to cling to a version of the Gospel that does not resonate in the rest of the world. We desire our faith and our prosperity – without persecution. We have become like the church of Laodecia. OUr spiritual condition is neither cold nor hot, it is “lukewarm”. Thinking we are rich we become increasingly poor. Thinking we can see we become increasingly blind. We no longer perceive true riches, for we hunger after the riches of this world.
I write all of these things while I sit in the comfort of my own home. My faith has not been tested to the point of death. What am I to do? Should I hang my head in guilt because I have been blessed? Should I alter the Gospel to accommodate my blessings? Should I simply send a check to support those who are being persecuted? To be honest – I really don’t know. Yet, I must grapple with these questions, with these stirrings. What is the condition of my heart? Would I be willing to give up all – to testify to the Gospel of the Grace of God? This is the question I must ponder. This is the question that gets to the root of the condition of my heart.
Lord, search my heart and discern my ways. May I not follow the pathway of presumption and make rash decisions to please others. Guard me from choices and decisions in life that are prodded by guilt, selfishness, or worldly wisdom. May I submit all of my life to you in complete and faithful stewardship. May I, like Paul, be willing to follow you no matter where that may lead – to finish the course and ministry that I have received. Lead me by Your Holy Spirit moment by moment, and day by day. Help me count the cost of discipleship. In Jesus Name!