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What does it mean to love God supremely? Jesus made a startling comparison in Luke 14 that both clarifies the issue and confuses a lot of readers.

“If anyone comes to Me,” He said, “and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters … he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

You see the problem, don’t you? Here we have been talking about the love of God and loving Him supremely, and now Jesus starts talking about hate as a good thing. 

Fortunately, the problem is easy to overcome. We struggle because in the United States, our words love and hate lie at opposite extremes. They are opposed to one another. In the Middle Eastern mind and thought, however, they serve as comparative words, not opposite words. So Jesus is not commanding us to hate everyone who means a great deal to us; in fact, He’s saying that our love for them must pale in comparison to our love for God. We should love God so supremely that any other love looks like hate by comparison.

You can be sure He’s not instructing you to actually hate anyone because the Bible explicitly commands the contrary:

• “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27).

• “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34).

• “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25).

• “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Obviously, Jesus is not saying that to follow Him you must hate your mother and your father, your sisters, your brothers, your family members, your children, and your friends. He is saying that your love for Him must exceed your love for your mother, your father, or your wife, or your children, or your brothers and your sisters, or your friends. Your love for Him must reign supremely.

That means that if your parents tell you, “It’s either your love for Jesus or your love for us,” then you must choose to love Jesus. If your wife says, “I’m not going to stay with you anymore if you insist on this Christian obsession,” then your love for Jesus has to exceed your love for your wife. If your husband says, “I cannot stand this religious stuff anymore! If you keep it up, I’m leaving,” then you must let him leave. Paul wrote, “If the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases” (1 Corinthians 7:15). Your love for Jesus has to be first and paramount.

Matthew’s gospel makes this intense comparison very clear. There Jesus says, “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” (Matthew 10:37). So don’t worry that to love God supremely you must start hating your wife, kids, and anybody else you hold dear. Not so! God instructs you to love them, and through His Spirit He enables you to do so; nevertheless, your love for the Lord must rise above every other love.

– excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith

continue reading the views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Calvary Southampton

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