“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (Luke 14:28)
When we are developing a habit of consistent Bible study, there’s more to it than just grabbing your Bible and a pen and going. That is the first part, sure, but without a solid plan or routine in place, that well-meaning enthusiasm isn’t going to get us very far after the first week (or maybe even the first couple of days!). As with everything in life, anything worth doing is worth doing right. Of all the things worth doing, getting to know God and His Word on a deeper level is of immeasurable value. And neglecting God and His Word is of immeasurable harm.
What is a disciple?
Scripture tells us to count the cost of following Jesus, of being His disciple (Luke 14:25-33), and a disciple is a “learner” or “pupil” (Strong’s Concordance, #G3101). I’ve often heard the word “disciple” used interchangeably to refer to Jesus’ apostles. The apostles were disciples, but the title “apostle” primarily refers to them as the twelve men that travelled with Jesus during His earthly ministry. Jesus gave them an abundance of teaching and spent an enormous amount of His time with them during His ministry years.
However, “disciple” refers to anyone who is a student or pupil of Christ. The word “disciple” was not a specific title or gift given to a certain person or group of people who lived only during Jesus’ time, but is a phrase still applicable to us today. There are no more apostles, but every one of us who has a personal relationship with God and spends time learning His Word can be called a disciple.
Examples (Luke 9:57-62)
Discipleship is all-inclusive! Even Jesus, though, made it clear that there was a necessary cost to following Him. In Luke 9, we read of three men who came to Jesus and told Him they wanted to follow Him…but. They all had “but’s”.
The first man declared that he would follow Jesus wherever He went! However, he was warned that Jesus was homeless. He stayed with friends or slept outdoors. It would not be comfortable to follow His steps, and we don’t know if the man did or not.
The second man wanted to follow, but first he asked to go back and attend his father’s funeral. This would have been an extended event, and taken quite some time. The man’s father would have been near the end of his life, but the timeline would have been indefinite before the man would have returned to follow Jesus. Jesus told him that his priority would need to be preaching the kingdom of God, even if it meant he would not be able to participate in something as humanly significant as laying a parent to rest. We also don’t know if he followed.
The last man wanted to return home and say goodbye to his friends and family. Here, too, Jesus points out the priority of the gospel work of being a disciple. He tells the man that one who puts his hand to the work and then looks back is not fit for the task. Later, Jesus tells those listening to Him that the measure of one’s love for Him should make their love for family look like hatred by comparison. We don’t know if this third man followed Jesus, either.
The King & The Contractor (Luke 14:28-33)
In Luke 14, Jesus is giving the example of a king who goes to war without making sure he has sufficient resources to be successful, and of a man that goes to build a tower but doesn’t budget out the cost and so is unable to complete the building. In both examples, these individuals who have been hasty and not properly planned in advance are shown to be foolish. Their failure to plan makes a mockery of them.
The context may not be exactly the same, but the application is clear. As the adage says, “Fail to plan, plan to fail”. One’s plan does not need to be written in stone (and in fact, it shouldn’t be), but it does need to be a firm boundary we place in our lives. If we don’t, everything else we have going on will just keep on stealing the time we should be committing to the everyday practical discipleship of Bible study.
3 Basic Questions – Time, Space, Tools
Over the next three articles, we will answer these questions relating to counting the cost of investing in Bible study:
1. Where is there an opportunity for me to make time? We all have the same 24-hour block, and God expects us to steward that time wisely with eternity in view.
2. Where can I make physical space to focus on study? You need to select a location to build your tower that will best enable success.
3. What tools will I need to be successful? Physical tools are important, but so are spiritual tools. Spiritual tools will make or break it for you here.
Don’t forget to check back in next week as we dive deep into this practical aspect of discipleship!