What’s the Cost?

“But at a birthday party for Herod, Herodias’s daughter performed a dance that greatly pleased him, so he promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted.” (Matthew 14:6-7 NLT)

Have you ever expressed your intent to commit to something before you knew the cost? I have, and it cost me more than I could have ever imagined.

That’s what happened to Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee. He had arrested John the Baptist as a favor to his wife, Herodias, who had been married to his brother Philip. John the Baptist had been telling Herod that it was against God’s law for him to marry her, and it stirred in him thoughts that he’d like to murder John. But over time, perhaps what speck of conscience Herod had was pricked, or maybe he was just afraid of what John’s followers would do if he did kill John.

Whatever his hesitation, it didn’t matter after he had a few too many drinks and was influenced by the impact of the dance performed by his wife’s daughter. Motivated by his lustful mind and proud heart, Herod “promised with a vow to give her anything she wanted.” Obviously, he spoke without forethought, because what she asked of him cost him far more than the head of John the Baptist on a tray. That’s just how Satan works. Could Adam and Eve have known the cost of their sin? Can you or I?

Yes, of course, it cost our Savior His perfect, sinless life on the Cross. There’s nothing that can compare with that great sacrifice. But in practical terms, Satan blinds us to the implications of the decisions we make without thought.

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My mentor said: “What is all you sold your soul to obtain worth, on the day you stand before Jesus?” People we know and love are selling their soul for things that will perish yet are blinded to the consequences until it’s eternally too late. Why is it so difficult to see the truth?

On the other hand, those of us who have committed our lives to Jesus must be willing to count the cost of what that means. Marshall Segal said: “Welcome what it will cost you today to pursue love in light of eternity.”Admittedly, we may never know the impact of our loving kindnesses on those we serve, but we can nonetheless embrace the sacrifice of our love in order that Jesus might be exalted and pleased.

When I was in seminary one of the classes I took was called “Ministry to the Mentally Ill.” We would go to a facility each week and be locked in with people with all sorts of mental illnesses. Our assignment was to zero in on one patient and each week write a report of our conversation with them.

Steve was the person’s name that I chose. He seemed normal to me, until he would begin to hallucinate and things that he “saw” or “experienced” became his reality. Honestly, he was convincing, so much so I couldn’t always tell fact from fiction. He told me there were those in the ward who “were out to get” him, which I took with a “grain of salt.”

Then one day we came for our visit, and I found Steve in bed. He had been badly beaten and couldn’t speak, but he indicated he was thirsty. There were several other patients around as I lifted his head and slowly let a few drops of water enter his mouth. I can’t explain it, but that was a moving experience for me. In all the conversations we’d had over the weeks, I hadn’t felt the closeness or love for Steve that I felt in that moment.

It was hard for me to be there, and I was always glad to leave, but it reminded me that sometimes the simplest act of kindness can be life-changing, not only for the one we help, but for us.

Burk Parsons wrote: “May our passion for Christ always be greater than our passion for an easy life.” May we always be willing to do the things for Jesus that stretch us and that, while we may not choose them for ourselves, will bless someone else and honor our Savior.

Sometimes that’s the cost we must be willing to pay to exalt Jesus and grow closer to Him.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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