“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 10:37-39 (NKJV)
This week I’ve been talking about what it means to love the Lord with all our heart, soul mind and strength. We see in this passage that Jesus says that a part of what it means to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength is that we love Him more than we love our children, our spouse and even our own lives. When I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength I will be more devoted to Christ than I am to anything or anyone else, even my family.
The idea being more devoted to Christ than we are to our families is probably as odd sounding in our day as it was in their day. Yet this is what Christ expects. This is what He demands. This is what He deserves. This is the only thing He will accept. This is what it means to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. As a husband and a daddy, I’ve found that the greatest rival to my devotion to Christ is my family. However, I cannot let myself be more devoted to my family than I am to Christ. I must constantly ensure that I am more devoted to Christ than I am anything else in this world, even my family.
I think a natural question that we have about this is “why?” Why does Christ expect us to be more devoted to Him than we are to our families? Why is Christ worthy of greater devotion than anything else, even our families? To answer that we have to remember who Christ is and what He did. Christ was not just a teacher. He was not just a prophet. He was not just a miracle worker. He was/is all of that and much more.
In John 12:41, we are reminded that Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 6 was a vision of Christ in all His glory. We are told in John, Colossians and Hebrews that Christ is the one who created all things. We are told in John 1 that Christ became human and lived among us. So the great and glorious creator of all things willingly cast off His glory and came to earth as a human. He lived a perfect, sinless life. He did amazing miracles and taught in ways that astounded everyone from the great theologians to the common people. Then after about 33 years of life, He was betrayed by one of His disciples, cruelly mocked, beaten, and then was murdered on a Roman cross.
Yet the cross wasn’t a surprise. In fact, the cross was the entire reason He came. We always have to remember that Jesus didn’t come just to live a perfect life, do miracles or give us great teaching. He came for the explicit purpose of being crucified for our sins. On the cross, He bore the wrath of God in our place. He fully paid the penalty for our sins. He then died and lay dead in a tomb for three days. After three days He rose from the dead eternally victorious over sin and death. Now because of His sinless life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection we can be completely forgiven for our sins and we now have the hope of eternal life with God.
I love my wife and I love my daughters. There is very little in life I’d rather do than spend time with my wife and kids. As wonderful as they are, they aren’t God. They didn’t die for my sins and rise from the dead for my justification and they don’t make it possible for me to have eternal life. Christ is worthy of superior devotion because of who He is and what He’s done. Nothing or no one on the earth comes close to deserving the same level of devotion that Christ deserves.
At the same time, let me say that as a mom or dad, husband or wife, the best thing you can do for your family is to give Christ superior devotion. Some have a fear that giving Christ a superior devotion will cause us to neglect our family. That is not remotely the case. If I love Christ with all my heart, soul and mind, then I will also love my wife as Christ loves the church. I will not love my wife that much unless I am giving Christ the superior devotion He is worthy of. If I love Christ with all my heart, soul and mind, then I will also love my kids as Christ has loved me. I will not love my kids that much unless I am giving Christ the superior devotion He is worthy of.
If you really want to do an interesting study about what happens when we are more devoted to our wife more than we are to Christ, then read the story of King Ahab from 1 Kings 16-22. If you really want to do an interesting study about what happens when are more devoted to our kids more than we are to Christ, then read the story of Eli and his sons from 1 Samuel 2-4. What you’ll find in those stories is that loving being more devoted to a person than we are to Christ has horribly detrimental effects on us and on those we are devoted to.
What does the actions of your life show is the object of your devotion?