Count The Cost (Are you Christ’s?)
Luke 14:26-27: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
How often have we been directed to this Scripture and those which are in concord with it, yet have not actually given thought to what our Lord Jesus meant by these words? How many messages have been preached, and how many lessons have been taught, trying to explain away the plain sense of these words of our Lord?
Our dearly departed to glory brother, J.C. Ryle, gives the immediate sense of these words:
This expression must doubtless be interpreted with some qualification. We must never explain any text of Scripture in such a manner as to make it contradict another. Our Lord did not mean us to understand that it is the duty of Christians to hate their relatives. This would have been to contradict the fifth commandment. He only meant that those who follow Him must love Him with a deeper love even than their nearest and dearest connections, or their own lives.—He did not mean that it is an essential part of Christianity to quarrel with our relatives and friends. But He did mean that if the claims of our relatives and the claims of Christ come into collision, the claims of relatives must give way. We must choose rather to displease those we love most upon earth, than to displease Him who died for us on the cross. (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel, Gospel of Luke, eSword edition).
This is NOT a call to hate our relatives, whom we should surely love, nor is it a call to deny our affections for them. What it IS, however, is a call to recognize that the chief attention of our affections and thoughts must be He who not only created us, but recreated us, in the new birth, by living a righteous life before God in our stead (since we are not able to measure up to God’s righteousness), then giving that righteous life to be punished with the everlasting punishment of God’s wrath against those sins we commit, in order to bring us to be with Him before God in everlasting life.
The words are comparative, and definitional. Our Lord is saying to us, in plain words, that, first of all, we must adore, worship and serve He who not only created us, but died for us, that we might live forever before God by believing in that which He did (and is yet doing) for us. People who claim Christ as their Lord and Savior, yet never read Scripture, so never consider such things as our Lord states here, can never really know what it is to claim Him as their Lord and Savior.
In such cases, it is to be greatly – GREATLY – feared, they know nothing of He who lived for them, died for their sins, and rose for their justification before God. It is greatly to be feared, that since they have abandoned the reading of that Scripture our God gave to us, by which His Holy Spirit not only instructs us as to the right means of living, but empowers us to attain to those right means, such persons are fashioning a god after their own imaginings – one who is like themselves, writ large to match their conceptions of the god they imagine must be within Scripture, without ever examining those Scriptures of the God who created them to understand what He says about Himself, them, and how we may be reconciled not only to Him in this life, but attain to that everlasting bliss which He alone delivers to those who are His.
Plainly stated, to put family first, you must put the God who created the family unit first. You will only serve those who are of your blood and flesh inasmuch as you serve He who created you, and they, for His purposes. Since He has only your good in His imitable decree, and that purposed as the God who created you, it is necessary to understand these words as plainly as they are set forth for us.
These words of Jesus our Lord do not abrogate those He gave to the Israelites at Sinai, which are comprehended throughout Scripture before and after that giving of His Moral Law – NO, they reinforce this moral law of our God.
Obedience to parents is seen in Exodus 20:12 and 21:15-17, as well as Ephesians 6:1, and surely our Lord did not intend these moral imperatives He delivered to Israel, and to the New Testament church after that nation was dispersed (due to disobedience, which should be a lesson for us all) – neither did our Lord deem to circumnavigate all the laws regarding family relations which depend upon the Ten Commandments, and have various expositions within His revelation to Old Testament Israel (Read, for instance, Leviticus 18, where our Lord expounds upon His commandments in familial and extra-familial relations).
NO! The “holiness without no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14) has been attained for us “in Christ,” and we ignore that to our own peril. Where we recreate God in our image, we have a God who is not the God of Scripture, and our hope in Jesus Christ is empty – vain, as the Scriptures state.
This is dangerous ground. The degree to which you love the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and life is the degree to which you accept His words over your own fleshly, carnal sensibilities. To truly love your family members after the flesh and blood of theirs – and your – creation, you must first love Him most. It cannot be any other way. You must love Him above your own temporary life in this time before the Lord Jesus comes again, to show all whom He has chosen for His, and deliver His righteous wrath against those who hate Him.
If you truly love your mother, brother, father and wife and children, you will do that which is most loving of all: tell them of He who lived, died, and rose again for them, if they are His. You will warn them that those who reject what He alone accomplished, and delivers to those who are His, are His enemies.
Your fleshly sensibilities are not in view here – what God has declared is what is in view. What God has declared is that by which you will show your greatest love of your family members.
Will you then, indeed, declare that “God is love,” according to the Scriptures?
Think long and hard on these things. What you conclude will be to the eternal blessing or eternal damnation of those friends and family you claim to love.
In closing, you cannot love any, family or friends, more than to give them the true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.