When you speak the truth in love, the
consequence is sometimes hate. Speaking the truth in love is a biblical requirement (Ephesians 4:11-16). Yet, throughout the Old and New Testaments, we see prophets and other truth speakers being ostracized, stoned, hated and killed. It takes courage to speak truth, particularly when your life and livelihood are at stake. It takes a decision to surrender all to God regardless of consequences. There is no special "courage gene" that some people have and others don't. Courage is merely a decision to trust God and to trust his promises.
A few years ago when I was in the process of deciding whether or not I wanted to commit to God or to continue life on my terms, I was required to count the costs. Luke 14:28 warns that we should not begin to build unless we determine that we will be able to complete the process. This is in stark contrast to the often emotion-filled call after a Sunday sermon to "pray Jesus into your heart." Counting the costs requires that you look squarely in the face of anything and everything that might seek to derail your faith. What will you say to parents and friends who question why you need such a level of commitment? What if friends desert or betray you? What would you do if your level of personal faith compromises your profession or your career? What happens if you lose your home or your cherished car as a result of your faith? I concluded that faith in God and in his coming kingdom was as the pearl of great price described in Matthew 13:44-46. Nothing in this physical world could ever be of greater value than the opportunity to be part of God's kingdom. The physical can perish or vanish, but God's kingdom is eternal, as is our part in it if we choose to be aligned with God.
More than at any other time in history, Christians and disciples of Jesus need to count the costs of their commitment to God and be prepared for severe testing. In this country and throughout the world, disciples of Jesus are losing homes and businesses to foreclosure and bankruptcy as a result of their faith. They are being tortured, stalked and harassed. They also are being called to deny God or Jesus at the risk of losing their life. Of course, being a disciple means that you should expect to boldly call on God for protection and for the spiritual weapons necessary for the battle (Ephesians 6:10-19). It does not require that you meekly surrender your life merely because you are a disciple.
Whether you have been a Christian or disciple of Jesus for one month, one decade, or ten decades, if you have never counted the costs of following Jesus and of having the indwelling Holy Spirit, it is never too late to do so. If you are not a Christian or a disciple of Jesus, you also can count the costs of following Jesus if you so choose. You can begin by making a thorough list of everything that might threaten to derail your faith, including fear. Decide what you lose by surrendering to the derailment, and what you gain by holding fast to your faith. How will you respond when challenged? How does God want you to respond when challenged? If you plan in advance what you will say and do, and if you allow the Holy Spirit to lead the battle and the defense, you will never fall (Zechariah 4:6; 2 Peter 1:3-11). Be bold and courageous, openly acknowledge the Lord your God and his Words of truth (Mark 8:38), and speak the truth in love.