“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
The above scripture has to be one of the toughest verses in the bible for me. I love my family. There are few people in this world who have shown even half as much love and consideration for my well-being as my family. I am blessed to have an amazing wife. I have two loving, attentive parents who I respect and admire, plus a brother and sister who I would also call two of my best friends in the world. I have several friends who are so close that I even refer to them as family. I would imagine that all of you reading this have people in your lives that you would say similar things about. That is what makes this scripture so challenging.
It is confusing to read Matthew 10: 37, and then read things like the following verses:
- “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
- “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
- “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12)
- “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
So we are to love our family, friends and even our enemies more than ourselves, but if we love them more than Jesus then we are not worthy of Him? Those are some pretty tough instructions. It wasn’t until I truly experienced the love of God that I could even begin to understand what Jesus is trying to tell us.
Colossians 1:18 tells us that Christ is the head of the church, so He sets the tone for how people in His church conduct their lives. If He is truly our Lord, who we love and respect, then we will actually follow the commands He gives us. If we don’t view Him as the supreme authority in our lives, well then we get to pick and choose which of His commands we follow or don’t follow. If we don’t love Him above all else and follow His example, then we get to define the extent to which we will actively love our friends and family members. We can place limits on our love, and only show it to people when they deserve it or when we feel like it.
If Jesus is the Lord of our life, and we trust that He loves and cares for us, He will show us how to love others the way that He does. He will not only command us, but empower us, to love the people in our lives in accordance with His standards. God will help us to love our friends and family members even when they do not deserve it. He will help us to sacrifice our own wants and desires for them even when we do not feel like it. God can help children to submit and be obedient to their parents even if their parents are not deserving of respect and obedience. He can help parents to love their children, even if those children are rebellious and disobedient.
The most effective way we can love our family and friends is to put our relationship with God first. We simply cannot love others the way God desires without first experiencing His unconditional love for us. Take a moment today just to spend some time with God, and ask Him for an opportunity to show someone how much you love them. Ask Him to teach you how to love the way that He loves us.