“When our love of good gifts becomes ultimate, it ceases to be good love.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – July 22, 2021
He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:37-39, NKJV
One of the constant temptations of the Christian life is to give good things our ultimate allegiance. Family, for example, is an unspeakable gift. As it says in the Psalms, “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6). The family is an icon of the Trinity, unique persons living in a community of love. Families are to be cherished, celebrated, and honored in countless ways. And yet, it is possible to give them a love and loyalty that is reserved for God alone.
The good gifts of creation, such as family life, are not meant to be ends in and of themselves, but are signposts that move our hearts and lives in a specific direction. The love we receive from a mother is a taste of the perfect love of the Lord. The care and protection of a father reminds us that we are upheld each and every moment by the sustaining strength of God our Father. And our desire to serve and sacrificially give for our children reveals to us the ultimate example of self-giving love, seen in our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross.
Our earthly loves only misguide us when we make them the primary source of our identity and affection. Reflecting more directly on our Lord’s words in Matthew 10, these loves have failed us if we cling to them more than we cling to Christ. The call of Jesus upon each and every one of us is to be like him, to take up our cross and die to ourselves so that we might truly live. And this, then, becomes the key to this passage: what is keeping you from taking up your cross and following Jesus?
When our love of good gifts becomes ultimate, it ceases to be good love. However, since these loves, when rightly ordered, are a good and holy gift, it is incredibly easy to believe we are doing God’s will and living as faithful disciples, when in fact we fail to hear the truly radical call of discipleship. Fear keeps us from believing Jesus’s words to us, that in letting go we are found, that death is the way to life. And so we hold fast to lesser loves, instead of discovering the true life that comes from daily taking up our cross and giving our lives away for the sake of others and the glory of God.
Father, forgive us for our failure to love you and give ourselves fully to you. Turn our hearts towards you in trust and obedience, teaching us daily to take up our cross and follow Jesus Christ, your son and our Lord. Amen.
In your own life, what do you love more than Jesus?
Bethany Wohrle: Worthy of it All
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