I was reading in Numbers a couple weeks back, and one verse stuck out to me. It was one of those moments when a Scripture I had never pondered before suddenly became filled with meaning. The verse was Numbers 11:5; "We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost--also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic."
At first glance this verse just seems like another lament from the ungrateful Israelites. This passage was recounting the complaining they were doing not long after their deliverance from slavery. They wished they were back in Egypt as slaves because of the physical comforts. They were willing to trade their freedom for food. It reminds me of another Old Testament story, one where Esau sold his birthright in exchange for some stew.
In the past, I've often read these passages in disbelief. How could anyone trade something as important as their freedom or birthright for food? And then God spoke directly to my prideful heart. I am just like them. Every time I complain about the cost of following Christ, I am forgetting the cross. When I long after the physical comforts of secular society, I am wishing I was enslaved to sin once again so I could have the physical satisfaction of my sinful desires. When I long for the things of this world, I forget the great sacrifice it took when Jesus freed me from sin. When brought under the light of the enormity of what I have been freed from, my greed and envy are just as ridiculous as the Israelite grumbling over his lack of melons.
When I complain that the standard God has called me to is too high, I am listening to Satan's lies. Satan told the Israelites the fish was free in Egypt - "we remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost." But that was a lie. There was a cost to living in Egypt. The cost was their lives. Their freedom. Satan is telling the same lie today. He tells us that following Christ is too hard, that is not worth it, that the cost is too great, that life is better when you're enslaved to sin. How is it that I so quickly forget that sin has its cost as well? Just look around and you can see its effects. You can see the price of sin on the face of a man addicted to alcohol since his youth. You can see the cost of sin in the magazines lining the checkout line. You can see the price of sin as it rips families apart.
You may be thinking, "But following Christ has its cost as well!" Yes, it does. You may wander in the wilderness. You may have to go without the comforts of this world. You will be called to deny your flesh and its sinful desires. But the difference is - it is worth the cost! Living for Christ may be difficult at times, but in the end I can 100 percent guarantee you that it is worth it. Sin will cost you and misuse you. It is not worth it. One of my favorite verses describes this perfectly. Galatians 6:8-9 says, "Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
I'm reminded of a song based on Luke 14:26-33 by Rend Collective Experiment that goes like this,
"I'm saying yes to You,
And no to my desires.
I'll leave myself behind and follow You.
I'll walk the narrow road,
'Cause it leads me to You.
I'll fall but grace will pick me up again.
I've counted up the cost,
Oh I've counted up the cost,
Yes, I've counted up the cost,
And You are worth it."
If you take one nugget away from this, take this - that following Christ and obeying Him is always worth it.
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