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     25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. 27  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:25-27 (NIV)

     Wow! These are strong words coming from Jesus. But before we throw them out, we need to consider the verses that come before this section. These tell about the parable of the great banquet in which the first guests who were invited gave so many excuses for not coming to the banquet.

     I believe Jesus is saying that when we allow our families to come between us and our relationship with him we are loving them at Jesus expense. His use of the word “hate” seems to be a form of comparison to the love we have for Jesus. Otherwise, this passage flies in the face of “Honor your father and mother” in the Ten Commandments. When so many of Jesus’ teachings focus on love, we have no choice but to see this as a figure of speech.

     What comes to mind when I think of these passages are new converts from Islam, Jewish, and other faiths who follow Jesus in spite of becoming disowned by their own families. I believe they understand best what Jesus is saying. They had to be willing to turn their backs on their families and walk away to be able to follow Jesus. That doesn’t mean they truly hate them. In reality, their hearts grieve and break for their families and they continue to pray that they will come to know and love Jesus.

     Jesus isn’t looking for fair weather disciples. He wants followers who are willing to live in new and different ways as they follow his leading. He wants people who will put their very lives in danger if necessary to follow him.

     What have you given up to follow Jesus? Has your relationship with Christ cost you any friends? Or have you allowed peer pressure or pressure from family members to keep you from developing an intimate relationship with Jesus?

     Lord Jesus, I love you. Help me to recognize the things that I have allowed to come between you and me and help me to turn my back on them and walk away.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.


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1 Praise the LORD.      Praise the LORD, O my soul.
     
2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
     
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
     
in mortal men, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
     
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
     
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 the Maker of heaven and earth,
     
the sea, and everything in them–
     
the LORD, who remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
     
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
Psalm 146:1-7 (NIV) 

    The Lord alone is worthy of continuous praise. When we put too much confidence in any one person, we may find God taking that person out of our circle.     I grew up with an older brother who I adored. And when I started college, joy of joys, we were thrown into the same group of friends. I loved being known as Keith’s sister and found a certain amount of self-identity there. But at the end of our first year with our wonderful new friends, Keith was suddenly and without warning taken up to be with the Lord. …along with my confidence in who I was as his sister. Now I would have to be my own person with no crutch to lean on. It was a scary thought.     So it is with putting too much trust in any one person. Pastors come and go, or rise and fall. Husbands and wives may find themselves abandoned through death or divorce. Government leaders change and often disappoint us. God encourages us to seek good counsel, but our highest source of direction must come from our Heavenly Father, and nothing short of Him.     

     The God who made us knows us completely. He knows what we need and is able to provide for us. He knows how to separate what we want from what we need; he knows what is truly good for us. We can trust in him fully without reservation.  He alone is worthy of our praise.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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      17 “‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. 

     18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.  (Leviticus 19:17-18  NIV)

God doesn’t allow much room for hate in our hearts, especially when that hatred is directed against people.  God hates evil and so should we.  But when it comes to the people who upset us, hate should not be among our responses.  God does allow us the option of rebuking another person, but even that should be done with the other person’s best interest at heart.  When we rebuke another we should do it in a spirit of helping that person, not in a spirit of seeking revenge. 

Neither does God allow us the option of holding a grudge against another person.  We must forgive from the heart and mean it. 

This seldom comes easy.  Sometimes it is hardest to forgive those closest to us.  When we feel another has wronged us we must pray for God to give us the right approach to take.  Whether it is to confront that person in love, or to simply turn it over to God by asking him to take the ill will out of our heart, and to cleanse our hearts from the grudges we feel.

Lord, help me to apply these teachings to my own heart and life that I may be truly free to serve you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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