In lunchrooms everywhere kids engage in the long-standing tradition of trading what they have in their lunch with what their friends have in theirs. It’s a time-honored dance that pits little ones against friends and foes. The goal is to end up with something better than what you started with. However, many a disappointed kid has realized that what they sacrificed hasn’t been worth the reward. All that they gave up wasn’t worth whatever they had gained.
In a similar vein, Christians are often reminded of all that they must give up in order to follow Christ. These reminders are good because the costs can be steep (Luke 14:26), and it is important that we count them. Many have followed after Jesus for a time only to walk away when they realize that following Him means sacrificing their desires for His (Mark 4:18-19). Many have abandoned Him when they realized that trusting Him was a guarantee of an easy life (John 6:60-66). Counting the costs on the front end is important; following Christ means giving Him everything.
However, it is important to remember the flip side of the trade as well. As William Barclay wrote about Matthew:
“[He] lost a comfortable job, but he found a destiny. He lost a good income, but he found honor. He lost a comfortable security, but he found an adventure of the like of which he had never dreamed.”
“It may be that if we accept the challenge of Christ, we shall find ourselves poorer in material things. It may be that the worldly ambitions will have to go. But beyond doubt we will find a peace and a joy and a thrill in life that we never knew before. In Jesus Christ a man finds a wealth beyond anything that he may have to abandon for the sake of Christ.” [The Gospel of Matthew, affiliate link]
In other words no matter what we must give up for Christ, the trade is always to our advantage. In sacrificing whatever we think is “ours,” we are obtaining what is His alone to give.