Counting the Cost (1)
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 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? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”
Following Jesus comes with a price. J. C. Ryle names four things we must be willing to leave behind: our self-righteousness, our sins, our love of ease, and the favor of the world. On the first, and—I would say—most difficult and important, he writes,
For one thing, it will cost him his self-righteousness. He must cast away all pride and high thoughts, and conceit of his own goodness. He must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace, and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another. He must really feel as well as say the Prayer-book words—that he has ‘erred and gone astray like a lost sheep,’ that he has ‘left undone the things he ought to have done, and done the things he ought not to have done, and that there is no health in him.’ He must be willing to give up all trust in his own morality, respectability, praying, Bible-reading, church-going, and sacrament-receiving, and to trust in nothing but Jesus Christ.
Now this sounds hard to some. I do not wonder. ‘Sir,’ said a godly ploughman . . . ‘it is harder to deny proud self than sinful self. But it is absolutely necessary.’ Let us set down this item first and foremost in our account. To be a true Christian it will cost a man his self-righteousness.
—JC Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 95–96
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