A lot of priorities are easy to set and hard to keep. Putting Jesus ahead of family is challenging to contemplate, excruciating to execute, and rewarding in retrospect.
The bad news is that Jesus says what he means. Luke (Luke 14:26 NASB) quotes Jesus as saying “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate(1) his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Matthew (Matthew 10:37 NASB) recalls it as “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.”
The good news is that Jesus means what he says. Jesus tells us “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29 NASB) When Jesus is first, we don’t suffer, we gain. The lad in John 6:1-14, had a few loaves and fishes to feed himself and his family. When he gave that to Jesus, he was filled, the multitude was filled, and the crumbs remaining were greater than the whole had been. When Jesus is first, our families do not suffer, they gain.
Do we value God enough to put Him above our family? He valued us that much.
(1) See http://www.tektonics.org/gk/jesussayshate.html for comments on the word “hate” in this context. The summary version is that Semitic peoples tended to speak in hyperbole and to choose black-and-white language. Matthew has the right sense of the thing.
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