Warning: what Jesus says here will absolutely crush you.
Read / Listen
Read Matthew 10:37-39
Listen to passage & devotional:
Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 94
Q. What does the Lord require
in the first commandment?
A. That I, not wanting to endanger
my very salvation,
avoid and shun
all idolatry, magic,
and prayer to saints
or to other creatures.
That I sincerely acknowledge
the only true God,
trust him alone,
look to him for every good thing
humbly and patiently,
love him, fear him,
and honor him
with all my heart.
that I give up anything
rather than go against
his will in any way.
Jesus makes three counter-intuitive claims that are really hard to understand in this short passage:
Those who love their family more than Jesus are not worthy of Him: This passage comes on the heels of an even harder saying from Jesus, that He "did not come to bring peace, but a sword," and that He came to set family members against one another! Certainly as a Christian you must love, honor, and respect your family. Thankfully, in most cases you can glorify God in how you relate to your family as you fulfill the numerous scriptural commands to care for your parents and children. But as soon as your familial allegiance begins to eclipse your allegiance to God, it becomes an idol.
Those who do not 'take up their cross' are not worthy of Christ: D.A. Carson says it well, "'Taking one’s cross' does not mean putting up with some awkward or tragic situation in one’s life, but painfully dying to self. In that sense, every disciple of Jesus bears the same cross." It means that process we reflected on last week - dying to sin and coming to new life in Christ - must be your top priority. We all stand convicted of idolatry when we see how far down the priority list this effort actually is - if, in fact, it even shows up at all.
Those who 'find' their life will lose it: We live in a world defined by a philosophy called existentialism, in which each of us can define our own reality, morals, and objectives. It's easy to 'find' yourself in a made up reality. Jesus here only echos what His Father had said millenia before: that you will find true life when we lose your own definitions (gods) for the sake of Christ. This is what it means in our day and age to have no other gods before me.
I do not think it is a harsh judgment to say that the most obvious feature of the life of the Christian Church today is, alas, its superficiality. - Martin Lloyd Jones, circa 1959
Putting other 'gods' before the one, true, triune God is the very definition of superficiality.
If these words of Jesus don't 'cut you to the heart (Acts 2:37),' stop what you're doing and read them again. We're not even 10% of the way into God's law, and already the load is crushing.
Let go of whatever 'gods' you have placed before the One True God - your family, your sins, even your pursuit of 'happiness' - and cling to the cross of Christ. Be thankful that even this most heinous sin of idolatry has been paid for on the cross, and that as a redeemed sinner you've been set free in order to fully submit yourself to God.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who must be held above all things.
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you prioritize your life so that nothing stands between you and following Christ.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:
Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 2 Corinthians 2