Luke 14:28-35 :
For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and wasn’t able to finish.’ Or what king, as he goes to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an envoy, and asks for conditions of peace. So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t renounce all that he has, he can’t be my disciple. Salt is good, but if the salt becomes flat and tasteless, with what do you season it? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
In a stark contrast to false teachers, Jesus urges His disciples to count the cost before deciding to follow Him and then proceeds to tell them that it will require them to renounce all they have. Not only that, He says that doing anything else would be like starting an impossible task like building a tower you can’t finish or winning a war with half the required army. What in the world could this mean? Who in their right mind would accept such an invitation? I would agree that this kind of parable requires special ears to hear!
I believe that Jesus is saying: If you were to really think about being my disciple, you would discover that you fall short of what I require. To overcome this we must give up on our abilities. I believe that Jesus is trying to get us to understand that there is absolutely no way we can do what is required by simply deciding to do it. Getting to the bottom of our own abilities is a basic beginning point to Christianity, but it is also the way we continue as we live as disciples of Jesus.
Jesus knew how important it would be for us, as Jesus disciples, to realize that we can’t live for Christ simply by deciding to start building or start fighting the good fight. We must “renounce all”. We simply don’t have what it takes to really be a disciple without giving it all up. What the disciples were later to learn is that they must work in the power of Jesus by the Holy Spirit. That is the same for us. If we don’t do this we become a mockery to those who see the actual results. I believe that this is the basic reason why Christianity fails in many churches and cultures. As Christians we must remember that we can only live as His disciples if we live by His powerful life and completely give up on our own. If we don’t allow God’s living-power to work through us, our work will end up being worthless and have to be thrown out as less useful than manure. Therefore the only way to continue, is to give up entirely on our own efforts and allow Him to work His way in us.