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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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     27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

 It is one thing to love a friend, a brother, sister, parent, son or daughter who has hurt you.  That is because you value their friendship.  But what about your enemies–those people who rub you wrong today, yesterday and always… those people who oppose you at every turn?  Does God expect us to love them too?  These verses tell us that we are to love even our enemies.  

But God hasn’t asked us to do anything he hasn’t already done for us.  We crucified Jesus on a cross, yet Jesus responded saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”  Jesus rebuked when it was necessary, but he never stopped loving his enemies. 

An insincere love is not love.  I have heard people say in bitterness and through gritted teeth, “I love him in the Lord.”  I don’t think God was impressed, however.  Until we are free of ill will, until we can think of them with a smile on our faces and in our hearts, we still haven’t forgiven them and we still aren’t loving them in our hearts. 

Verse 28 gives us the formula for overcoming those bitter feelings.  Jesus tells us to bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Lord give us the courage, strength, and desire to truly forgive our enemies.

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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