Burn the ships!
In 1519, the Spanish explorer and conquistador Hernando Cortez decided that he wanted to seize the treasure that the Aztecs had been hoarding. He took five hundred soldiers and one hundred sailors and landed his eleven ships on the shores of the Yucatan. Despite the large army under his command, he was still vastly outnumbered by a huge and powerful empire that had been around for 600 years.
Some of his men were unconvinced of success, and being loyal to Cuba they tried to seize some ships to escape to there. Cortez got wind of the plot and captured the ringleaders. He wanted to make sure that the remainder of his men was completely committed to his mission and quest for riches, so he did something that seemed completely insane to his people: Cortez gave the order to burn his own ships!
The path forward was clear for Cortez – all or nothing, 100% commitment. The option of failure was gone. This sent a clear message to his men: There is no turning back!!!
As Christians, we are asked to make proper measure before committing our life to Christ. We are to make those considerations with the expectation of 100% commitment.
Luke 14:25-35 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
We are then given two examples of properly counting the cost:
- Building a tower: 28 “for which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Other wise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 Saying, this man began to build and was not able to finish.”
- King going to battle: 31 “or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.”
Both of these examples, given by Christ, are about committing ourselves 100% to serving him successfully. Here are some of the lessons we can take from this passage:
1. Know the task at hand - both the builder and the king are filled with ambition and zeal for their task. Unfortunately, a good idea by itself usually isn’t enough to accomplish the goal. As Christians, we need to know clearly what our task is. We need to be well versed with God’s word so we can be used by Him. 2 Tim. 3:16-17- “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
2. Know the cost - Both the builder and the King are implored to count the cost, so they can be successful in their endeavor. Matthew 19:16-22 is the story of the rich young ruler, and how he came to Jesus with great zeal asking: “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” Jesus states “keep my commandments” and then lists six of the Ten Commandments. The rich young ruler then says “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus then tells him to sell all of his possessions and follow Me… The young man was not willing to pay that cost. The cost may be different for each of us- family, work, possessions, popularity, wealth, but the expectation is the same. We must put Jesus first in all things that we do.
3. Stay focused on the goal- our ultimate goal is to be with God in heaven. We must examine ourselves daily to see if we are executing our walk with God properly. 2 Corinthians 13:5- “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” We need to keep our eye on the goal so we don’t lose focus- 2 Tim. 4:7-8 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith, in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
God wants us to be 100% committed to Him today and tomorrow… what is holding us back from being totally committed? Only that type of commitment will allow us to someday hear these words “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”
Are we willing to take inspiration from Cortez and become 100% committed to our task?
Are you willing to say: “Burn the ships”!
- Craig Hecht