The Lord Jesus warned that we must love Him more than our relatives: “And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-60). At first glance it appears that Christ was forbidding the first man to return home and simply attend the funeral of his father, but it is more likely that the passage refers to the Jewish custom that a son would care for his father until he dies and then would inherit his wealth.
Christ was therefore warning of two dangers: First, He was warning of putting worldly security ahead of God’s will. Christ had called the man to follow Him, but instead of obeying without hesitation the man was making excuses and putting off the call. Family relationships are important and God’s Word instructs us to care for our loved ones (1 Timothy 5:8; Col. 3:18-21). At the same time, the call and work of God takes precedence over any human relationship. Down through the centuries many have resisted the call of God because of family ties. There are powerful forces at work here.
I am reminded of the man who led me to Christ. When God called him to preach, his wife gave him an ultimatum that she would leave him if he did not stop preaching. He pleaded with her to stay, but he refused to stop preaching. Eventually she did leave him and she took their young son with her. The man was brokenhearted, but he refused to stop obeying God’s command to preach the Word of God. Many, faced with such a choice, have turned their backs on God’s call.
Second, Christ was also warning of putting off God’s call for a more convenient time. It is so easy to excuse oneself from the Lord’s service by thinking that it will be easier to obey at a later time. “I will prepare to preach, Lord, when I can afford to do so.” “I will tithe, Lord, after I pay off my debts.” “I will be faithful to the assembly, Lord, after I complete these various projects and activities which require me to be away on Sundays and Wednesdays.” This attitude is a deception. It is never convenient to serve the Lord. We must seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and when we do, everything else will take care of itself.
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).
What did Jesus mean when He demanded that we “hate” our nearest and dearest loved ones? We understand this by comparing Scripture with Scripture. Consider a companion passage in Matthew:
“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
When Jesus said we must hate our father, mother, wife, children, brethren, and sisters, he was talking about not loving them more than Him and His will. The Lord requires that we put Him absolutely first in our affections and that we live to please Him above all else.
If a young person wants to make wise decisions in God’s will he must fear and serve God more than man. If it comes to a choice of obeying and pleasing his friends or relatives and obeying and pleasing God, he must choose God.
One of the greatest sins among young people is to fear their relatives and friends more than God. Great numbers of unbelievers commit this sin and end of hell because of it (Rev. 21:8). Many who are in hell would say they are there because they were afraid of what people thought. But believers also commit this sin. We must remember that we are bought with a price and are not our own (1 Cor. 6:19-20). This is what baptism pictures. The believer dies to the old life and is raised symbolically to a new life in Christ wherein Christ is Lord of all (Romans 6:3-4).
Excerpted from KEEPING THE KIDS: HOW TO KEEP THE CHILDREN FROM FALLING PREY TO THE WORLD. ISBN 978-1-58318-115-7. This book aims to help parents and churches raise children to be disciples of Jesus Christ and to avoid the pitfalls of the world, the flesh, and the devil. The book is a collaborative effort. It contains testimonies from hundreds of individuals who provided feedback to our questionnaires on this subject, as well as powerful ideas gleaned from interviews with pastors, missionaries, and church people who have raised godly children. The book is packed with practical suggestions and deals with many issues: Conversion, the husband-wife relationship, the necessity of permeating the home with Christian love, mothers as keepers at home, the father’s role as the spiritual head of the home, child discipline, separation from the pop culture, discipleship of youth, the grandparents’ role, effectual prayer and fasting. Chapter titles include the following: “Conversion,” “The Home: Consistent Christian Living and the Husband-Wife Relationship,” “Child Discipline,” “The Church,” “Unplugging from the Pop Culture,” “Discipleship,” “The Grandparents,” “Grace and the Power of Prayer.” One pastor wrote, “I have purchased extra copies of your book Keeping the Kids and distributed them to young parents. I find the information to be the most complete, Biblically sound information available and probably the best ever available.” 531 pages
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