The Epistle to Philemon: Count the Cost.

19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.” (Philemon 19–20 (ESV)

In 1983, Christian songwriter and musician David Meece released an album entitled Count the Cost. The chorus of the title tune says,

You gotta count the cost
If you’re gonna be a believer.
You gotta know that the price
Is the one you can afford.
You gotta count the cost
If you’re gonna be a believer.
You gotta go all the way
If you really love the Lord.

Matthew 16:24 (ESV) says, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

The point of the song and the biblical text is threefold. Each believer in Christ must be ready to deny themselves, personally take upon themselves the burden God has sovereignly given and follow the Lord in obedience.

This was what the Apostle Paul was expecting of Philemon. Philemon was bound by God’s Word to receive in love his runaway slave Onesimus. It did not matter what Philemon felt about the situation. The love Philemon experienced in Christ was now the same love he was to demonstrate towards Onesimus because of Christ. This was the cost Philemon was to count or consider.

Philemon owed his Christian faith to the ministry of the Apostle Paul. Paul was now expecting Philemon to repay what he spiritually owed by receiving back a slave who had stolen from him. It would not be easy, personally or culturally, but it was the cost that Philemon was to consider as a follower of Christ.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Philemon faced social ostracization if he were to receive back his runaway slave as a brother, and Paul was willing to help Philemon avoid or make up for this loss of status (v. 18), but ultimately Philemon still had to do what love demanded, even if it meant losing face before the watching world. Christians indeed are to be as “wise as serpents” (Matt. 10:16) and endeavor not to offend unnecessarily those who do not understand the ethics of Scripture. Sometimes, however, following Jesus means doing things unregenerate people cannot or will not understand, and their lack of understanding does not finally allow us to avoid the Lord’s demands (Mark 8:34–38).”

In what ways have you counted the cost in following Christ as your Savior and Lord? Have you been misunderstood at home? Have you been ridiculed at work? Have you been rejected by your friends? All these things, and more, may occur because of our faith in following Jesus Christ.

May each of us seek the Lord’s strength as we count the cost in following the Lord. Have a God honoring day.

Soli deo Gloria!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: