Bible Reading: Luke 14:25-30
If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, more than your own life. Luke 14:26
BECAUSE OF an ugly run-in with the church, the parents of one well-known Christian teacher were so down on Christianity that when sixteen-year-old Norm announced to them that he had become a Christian, his mom and dad blew up. Norm’s mother even threatened to kill him unless he gave up his faith.
Norm was nose-to-nose with a crisis: Should he obey his parents and turn his back on God? Or should he put God first and disobey his parents? With God’s help, Norm chose God. Norm faced ridicule from his parents for years-years he spent praying for them. He eventually saw both of them trust Christ as their Savior.
God commands you to love God and love people. But what do you do when those two loves collide? When your love for God seems to say you should withhold love from a person, how should you respond? Or when your love for family or a friend demands you withhold love from God, what should you do?
Sometimes love for God has to win over love for others. Look at the example of Abraham. God told him, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and … offer him … as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2, NASB). Abraham loved his son deeply. But Abraham loved God supremely and would have sacrificed his son had God not seen Abraham’s display of obedience and stopped him from harming Isaac.
Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26, NASB). Jesus isn’t saying you should hate your family members. He’s using hyperbole-exaggerated language. Your love for God must be so much greater than your love for any person-including those closest to you-that your love for people seems like hatred in comparison.
Make sure, though, that any issue that prompts you not to show love to a fellow human being is a clear violation of scriptural commands. Example: You might not like it if your parents said “no way” to you dating a non-Christian you really like. But their order doesn’t violate any of God’s commands-so you need to obey. On the other hand, if your parents tell you to fake information on a college application to get more financial aid, you have scriptural grounds not to obey.
Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Your love for God has to be bigger than your love for anyone else.
REFLECT: Do you want to put obeying God before every other priority of life?
PRAY: Ask God for courage to obey him first, fast, and always.