July 13: Wait, I’m supposed to hate my parents?

Hate is a strong word.  We’ve heard it a lot in the news the last few years.  No matter what side you’re on or what the issue is, hate is heavy.  I think we can all agree that it is a negative word.  When I was a kid, it was a strong and heavy word in our house and it wasn’t to be used flippantly.  I remember being corrected when I said I hated a toy or a type of food.  “We don’t hate.”  But never were the reprimands more serious than when the “h” word was used in reference to a person.  That was just plain wrong.  Most would tend to agree right?
However, in this passage, it seems that Jesus is telling us that we have to hate in order to follow him.  Wait… what?!!!!  This does not compute!  And hate our “father and mother” no less.  At face value, this seems contradictory at best.  BUT we know that our Lord commands us to love and He does not contradict Himself.  So, what is He REALLY saying here?
Well, as we read on in the passage, we see that Jesus is talking about counting the cost of following him.  In fact, Jesus doesn’t just refer to our father and mother, but also our brothers and sisters and even our own lives!  He says everyone who follows him has to “carry his cross”.  We also see this principle of cost in the form of 2 metaphors (Jesus loves those).  One is a builder counting the cost of what he’s going to need to finish the project while the other is of a king preparing to go to battle and making sure he’s got what it will take to win.  In both scenarios, NOTHING would be withheld at the expense of the completed building or the victory.
“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”  Jesus isn’t commanding us not to love our families… or even ourselves for that matter.  He IS saying that we can’t love ANYTHING more than HIM. Nothing is more important than our relationship with Jesus… even our most loved family members.  But here’s the cool thing…
If you truly give up everything to follow Jesus, He will empower you to love your family and loved ones even better than you could’ve on your own!  
 
So, here’s the question for today:  What are you loving more than Jesus?  What are you unwilling to sacrifice for the sake of your relationship with Him?  Ask Him to reveal that to your heart and surrender it today!
Matt Carter
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