Before having children, I was often tempted to put my husband “above” God – to treasure my relationship with Tyler more than I treasured God, to get all of my hope and security in Tyler instead of God, to save up all of my thoughts, desires and hardships to work through with Tyler instead of turning to God first. Now that I have children, I’m still tempted to put Tyler above God – but it’s even harder these days to put my children before God. If I’m honest, prioritizing my children, and even idolizing them, comes as second-nature. They dominate my thoughts, enslave my emotions, and consume my desires. But this verse calls me to love God first.
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.Matthew 10:37-39
When Tyler and I first got married, I used to ask him ALL the time, “Do you love me?” Usually I’d ask it in a cutesy voice, trying to mask the deep insecurity I felt. I look back and am embarrassed that I needed so much reassurance from him. I’m grateful that he constantly assured me of his love, and over time as God brought us through trials and challenges, I was able to see and experience his love in ways that were far more convincing than mere words.
As I read this passage today, I could almost hear God’s voice asking that question to me: do you love me?
It’s interesting what Jesus is looking for here — he’s not searching for compliance to a set of rules, or for people who go around and do good deeds. He’s not even looking for really, really good followers. He’s looking for love. Real, true, genuine love. The kind that says, “YOU mean more to me than anyone else in the entire world!”
People often balk at this verse and its counterpart in Luke 14. However, imagine this: you’re laying in bed with your husband, your head on his chest, and you ask him in a cutesy voice: “Do you love me?” And he responds: “I love you more than anyone in the world.”
You sigh and settle against him, contented.
And then he adds: “…except for this one woman, Linda, that I dated before I met you. She’s the one who got away…”
What would you do? How would you respond? I admit that my first response might be to grab a golf club and bash him over the head with it.
Or perhaps his answer was, “I love you, but I love our son a little more. He’s my favorite person in the whole wide world.” Or even: “I love you, but I also love the game of football about the same.”
That would not cut it.
So, why do we assume that this would work for God? That the Creator of the Universe, the one who sacrificed His only Son to redeem me, who would search the ends of the earth until He found me (Matthew 18:12-14), would be alright with playing second fiddle to my spouse, my kids, my own self?
Take a minute to examine yourself. Whom – or what – do you love the most in the world? If, deep down in your heart, the answer is not God, then it’s time to take a step back and reexamine why that is. I think sometimes we can justify having a person (our husband or children) above God – because it’s love. David Guzik says that the “greatest danger of idolatry comes not from what is bad, but from what is good — such as love in family relationships. The greatest threat to the best often comes from second best.”
Jesus is clear that if He’s not #1, we’re not worthy of Him. Honestly, that hurts when I read it. And if I’m being REALLY honest, sometimes it may seem like Jesus is being overdramatic. Like, c’mon Jesus, it’s not THAT serious.
But go back to that moment when you asked your spouse if they love you. How serious is that?
Let’s take it a step further: what if your husband had committed a crime for which he was going to be executed? And you were going to take his place. You were going to sacrifice your life to keep him alive. And the night before your execution, you had this conversation. Do you love me? More than anyone else? How serious is that?
But that’s the conversation Jesus is trying to have with us. He’s asking us: do you love me? Do you love me more than your husband, more than your children, more than your own self? He laid down His life for ours, and what He wants in return is our unadulterated love.
Jesus loves us, our spouses, and our children EVEN MORE than we do. They were His children before they were ours.
The great news about all of this is that Jesus loves us, our spouses, and our children EVEN MORE than we do. They were His children before they were ours. When we love Him more than these, what we’re choosing to do is entrust those people to Him. The wonderful news is that He will take better care of them than we ever could. And the absolute best thing for our spouses and children to see us doing is loving God more than anything else. Even them.
So, mamas, let’s fight together to continually make God the Ultimate Love of our lives. Comment below: What are some ways that we can show God that He is our first love?