Figuring the Cost

I enjoy the HGTV renovation shows, especially the ones that are a sequel to the House Hunters series. In House Hunters, you watch people view houses that they are considering buying, and at the end they reveal which one they picked. They work with a local realtor with a specific budget in mind, and it is always exciting when they negotiate a price for less than the asking price.

In the renovation shows, they make a list of improvements and repairs, set a budget, hire a contractor, do some of the demo themselves, and then you get to see the newly renovated house. However, it never, ever, ever comes in on budget. Never. They always underestimate both the cost of materials and the time required to complete the project, and thus go way over their budget in the end just to get the job finished. Not to mention that there is always a mold or water damage situation that they didn’t spot when they were buying the house, so now they are stuck. So even if they were under budget when they purchased the house, the renovations put them way out of budget.

If you’ve ever remodeled even a closet in your house, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

In the fourteenth chapter of Luke, Jesus taught his followers about estimating the cost of being a disciple. It is not cheap. Most will underestimate the true expense. Many will walk away.

Luke 14 (The Message)

25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

This may be the harshest of Jesus’ teachings. He stated that you may have to walk away from your family’s unbelief in order to be a disciple. You may need to separate yourself from people’s behavior and actions. You may need to even deny yourself, your habits, or your lifestyle to follow Jesus.

You will need to pick up your own cross.

28-30 “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’

31-32 “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?

Estimating the cost of following Jesus is a serious business. Jesus wants you to go into it with your eyes wide open. If you are still in a relationship with someone who continually pulls you away from God’s will and toward sin, get out your calculator and do the math again.

33 “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.

Plans, people, behaviors, and habits that don’t lead you to Jesus will need to be set aside for the disciple-life. Is God telling you to kiss something good-bye so that you can follow his son?

Follow Me by Michelle Robertson

Boxing Day

The day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day in the British Commonwealth. It is said to originate from two different sources. One legend says that Boxing Day was a day when the servants of Lords received a box of small gifts and Christmas dinner leftovers. They were given the day off to travel to their homes with said boxes. Another tradition suggests that it is a reference to the Feast of St. Stephen, whose feast day falls on December 26th. Stephen was one of the men selected in the Book of Acts to ensure that the distribution of alms was done equitably, including the Greek widows who were being neglected. On the Feast of St. Stephen, clergymen take the alms that were dropped in boxes at the church on Christmas Day and deliver them to the poor in the village.

In both cases, Boxing Day is a celebration of offering charity to the marginalized.

What a lovely reminder as we bridge Christmas and New Years Day. Those who have received much are invited to give much.

Luke 14 (The Message)

12-14 Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.”

In this parable, Jesus seems to speak right into the type of Christmas that many of us experienced. We gave to our friends. We supped with our family. We received riches. We offered things to people who are able to offer things back.

But the way to be a blessing on Boxing Day is to box something up and give it to someone who had a scant or non-existent Christmas.

Your community has homeless people living in it. Your community has families who rely on assistance to make the most meager ends meet. There is need where you live.

What will you do on this Boxing Day?

God calls us to share what we have. Dig deep. Open up your eyes, your heart, and your wallet. Christmastide has only just begun, and it is always better to give than to receive. And this kind of favor is returned as you are blessed by your giving. You get to be a blessing today, and you will be blessed again at the Resurrection. Happy Boxing Day!

Sunrise Windows by Michelle Robertson