Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:37-38
My devotions the other night was centered on the above verses. It included an exercise similar to the one we do when faced with a major decision. Get out a piece of paper…yes, actual paper and a pen…not your tablet or phone, this is one of those times when paper and pen are essential. There is something about actual writing at times like this that is revealing and therapeutic.
When trying to make a decision about a job, moving, college we are told to draw a line down the center and list the pros on one side and the negatives on the other and it should help us see more clearly what our choice should be.
The challenge doing my devotions was very pointed to the above verses in what I would call a value statement. It was to help the reader more clearly see who or what they value most, who or what is their greatest treasure. So draw the line down the center of your paper and on one side list all of the people you cherish in your life, your material possessions like your home, car, even precious items that you can not put a price on, your job/career, and the plans and dreams for your future. On the other side of the sheet write “Jesus.”
These are the specific questions asked, “Which weighs more to you? On which column do you place the most value?” As I thought through this exercise I found that looking at each listing separately, it is easy to say that Jesus is most valuable to me. Praise God, whatever life brings in regards to even my family the Lord will be with me. After all, we love the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind and all our strength. Right? Remember Peter said,“We have left all we had to follow you!” Surely, we would say the same, wouldn’t we? There is no one or nothing that I love more than you.
Bless Peter’s heart, he was always quick to speak and praise God for capturing his heart and using him in the spread of the Gospel and early church. Now, I am still meditating upon this exercise for I like Peter am quick to speak and would easily say that I don’t need to do the exercise, it is a no-brainer. Surely, I value Jesus above all.
But here’s the thought…just suppose, there is a conversation in heaven right now and I was to suddenly have a Job experience…everyone and everything gone but my spouse including my health, sitting on a ash heap using glass to scrap by sores. Would God still be God? The Great I Am that I Am? My Life, my Joy, my Song? Just suppose the left column of my sheet of paper was empty – no relationships, no material possessions, no job, no health, no plans or dreams? Certainly, Job’s wife was experiencing a major crisis of belief when she said to Job, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die (Job 2:9). I am so thankful for Job’s response, “But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job2:10).”
I think this is why the verse moves right to Jesus making this statement, “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me (verse 38).” And whoever is not willing to suffer is not worthy of relationship with me. Okay…loving God includes suffering for God. We are to love the LORD with our whole heart NMW (no matter what) and allow that love to cause us to be willing to suffer for the cause of Christ- to live and suffer opposition, shame, loss and even death in a way that proves that Jesus is my greatest treasure and displays His glory. No rivals in our hearts!
If God was to remove any one or any thing of the left hand side of my paper would I still be singing, I rather have Jesus than anything or O how I love Jesus? Suppose He was to remove in it all? In the above verses, the Lord just wants us to understand that we are to have no other “g’ods before Him. No loves greater than Him. Surely, the entire context of Scripture teaches us that God is love, loves us, and commands that we are to love others but no one or no thing greater than Him.
I believe this to the condition of my heart but as always I pray, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24)” and let there be no rivals for in my heart. Your are my greatest love, joy, and Treasure.” In Jesus Name, Amen!
“16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name….19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good (1 Peter 4:16,19).”