“Whoever loves father or mother more than me [Jesus] is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39).
These words may seem harsh. Verse thirty-eight even seems a bit removed from our current lives. While we can apply aspects of this verse on a daily basis, there are not many instances in life where I have to make a decision to love God more than I love my family. Well, when do I love my family more than Jesus? Perhaps by putting family events over Christ and the gathering of His people. Perhaps by trying to fit Christ into my family schedule.
Recently I contemplated another possible application. What do I do when a loved one rejects the gospel? More specifically, when a loved one passes away apart from Christ, do I bend the truth? Compromise is easy, particularly in cliché phrases: “at least he or she is not suffering any more” or “may he or she rest in peace.” In reality, nothing is further from the truth. Now there is tremendous suffering, more than I can imagine. Is my love for an unsaved family member greater than my love for God in that I hope that somehow God will suspend His judgment? Is my love for a family member enough to doubt truth? God’s goodness? God’s wisdom? I pray not. Scripture must inform my thinking. In 1 Corinthians 6:9, Paul reminds the church members in Corinth, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived.” There is a deception to be avoided: that somehow someone can slip through the cracks and enter into the kingdom of God. Of course, this is not an emotionless statement. Sorrow is appropriate for those who reject the gospel, but we love God more.
Christ’s words continue to give us a key to correctly thinking about Him and loving Him: the acknowledgement of total spiritual bankruptcy, total abandonment of myself to Christ. This is central to the gospel message and central to living for Christ. I can’t love Him if I love myself. Consider how your love for Christ should dwarf your love for anything and anyone else in this world.