I have a friend who had been strung out on drugs but gave his life to Christ. Several years later I asked him, “Why do you think your life turned around so dramatically and you never wavered?” He didn’t hesitate, “It’s because I totally surrendered control of my life to Christ.”

Although large crowds were following Jesus, He knew their attachment to Him was mostly superficial. He wanted them to really think about what it meant to follow Him, so He told them this story: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him” (Luke 14:28-29).

Jesus spoke a clear message concerning the cost of following Him. He stressed that an individual should understand the terms of discipleship and not regard it lightly. If Jesus is the Lord of my life, then I give Him control of everything—marriage, money, family, possessions and my future—I give it all!

Charles Finney, the attorney turned evangelist of the late 1700s, often preached to students on college campuses. Finney would talk to students about serving Jesus, tell them to go to lunch and come back later if they really wanted to repent and get right with God. He wanted the students to count the cost of commitment to Jesus, not merely make a flippant, emotional decision.

After Finney’s death, a survey revealed that 80 percent of those who had made a commitment to Jesus at Finney’s campus meetings continued to live for God and were victorious in their Christian lives several years later. In our generation, statistics tell us only about 2 percent of those who make a commitment to Christ at an evangelistic meeting are living in a vital relationship with Jesus a few years later. What’s the difference? The students had counted the cost and experienced the Lordship of Christ: complete surrender. May we do the same.