|Have you ever sat down on a Saturday and asked yourself, what happened this past week? What did my choices reflect about me? How is my testimony to my friends and family reflected in my choices? Maybe you never thought of it this way but, your choices are your testimony about your faith in God and your love for Him. Well, at least, they should be. So then, are your daily choices primarily motived by loving yourself, family, or loving the Lord our God?
Yes, of course, we need to love ourselves. Afterall, we are made in the image of God. We are loved by God. And, of course, we need to love ourselves in order to take care of ourselves so that we can be productive and useful. As Jesus states, MT 22:39 “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This affirms that there is an expectation even by Jesus that we need to love ourselves. It is also apparent that we can’t love others if we don’t have a healthy love for ourselves.
However, speaking of choices, there is a wrong way to love ourself. When our love for ourself becomes arrogant and self-centered, it’s not the love that Jesus teaches. You’ll find, associated with this arrogance and self-centeredness is an insatiable desire for more. That is, more things, more activities, more wealth, more power and this list goes on and on. In fact, you’ll find that this has nothing to do with loving yourself. Paul warns Timothy about these types of people. 2 TI 3:1 “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
It is also imperative that we love our families. The Christian family should be warm, safe, serving, discipling and loving as a reflection of God’s authority, grace, mercy and love. After all, Moses records that we are to “honor our mother and father” in the Ten Commandments. Paul clearly teaches (Ephesians 5), “husbands love your wives like Christ loved the church,” “wives respect your husbands,” and “children obey your parents.” But, yet again, it must be done in the right way. What I mean by that is, we need to love our family but not more than we love God. Luke records Jesus making this point very clear. LK 14:26 “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. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” I know what you’re thinking. I thought we are supposed to love our families? This can be confusing, but the point Jesus is making in the context, background, culture, and language of the first century, love them remarkably less than Jesus. Again, speaking of choices, we need to love our family but love Jesus more, much more.
Further to that, in our culture and context, hate is understood as the opposite of love. However, the opposite of biblical love (agape) is apathy or indifference. The biblical concept of love is to serve the need of another unconditionally and sacrificially. Coincidingly, since God has no needs, He is complete and sufficient within Himself, we respond to God in love through obedience. JN 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Added to that, if we chose ourselves or our families or someone or something else before the Lord our God, we are violating the first of the Ten Commandments. EX 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Admittedly, there are many gods that we can choose. We have the free will to make this choice. And, as where we find ourselves in the history of mankind, choice among these other gods are self, and family and all the things associated that help us feel good, significant. stimulated, and entertained. So, be transparent and ask yourself, which gods do you choose instead of the Lord our God? Are you aware? Do you know why? At this point, I believe the prophet Joshua can help us. JOS 24:14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
So then, are your daily choices primarily motived by loving yourself, family, or loving the Lord our God? Of course, it is righteous to love yourself and your family in the right way. The right way is to love yourself and others but love God significantly and noticeably more. Clearly love Him first and foremost. With that, love Him with your entire being. This is what Jesus commands. MT 22:36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.”
A Work in Progress,
- Making disciples who make disciples
- Introducing people to Christ across the street and around the world
- Loving the least among us with grace
- Leading together through teams
- Empowering the church through passionate prayer
- Worshipping as a lifestyle
- Embracing ministry with a Kingdom mindset