Sunday: Calculating Cost: First Priority

Study Luke 12:49-53; 14:25-26; Matthew 10:37. In what way are we to understand these strong words? What is Jesus telling us here?

Image © Lars Justinen from

Image © Lars Justinen from

Modern television newscasters would have concocted a prominent scandal from these words. Today, celebrated religious leader Jesus of Nazareth advocated familial hatred during His afternoon address. Analysts are comparing these current pronouncements with previously released statements that promoted loving relationships with neighbors and enemies. Informed commentators wonder if this indicates recent policy shifts. Other unconfirmed quotations suggest selling everything and turning the proceeds over to the Jesus movement. Stay tuned for further developments.

A closer study of the Bible and the way in which the word hate is used helps to clarify what Jesus meant. Deuteronomy 21:15 contains Mosaic legislation regarding men with multiple wives. The King James Version, following the natural sense, translates thus: one beloved and another hated, concerning those wives. Moses’ point is that if the husband favors one wife above others, he cannot deprive those less favored. The New Revised Standard Version and Modern Language Bible change the terminology rendering beloved with loved and hated with disliked. The Tanakh (Jewish Bible) and the New American Standard Bible (Protestant) settle on loved and unloved. Clearly, the intended understanding was relative affection. Hatred in this context may indicate loving less. Matthew 10:37, the parallel passage, certainly lends credibility to this suggestion.

Jesus’ point is simple yet full of deep implications. Whenever family receives precedence and Christ becomes secondary, Jesus relinquishes lordship. Serving multiple masters is impossible. Christ certainly supported strong family connections. Such connections, however, receive strength from unshakable foundations. That foundation means loving God unreservedly, first and foremost. God disallows every barrier, interruption, or distraction. Discipleship exacts the supreme price: undivided loyalty to Christ.

How do we, on a daily, practical level, put Christ before everyone, including family? What does it mean to do just that, and what could be some of the consequences?



Sunday: Calculating Cost: First Priority — 14 Comments

  1. There is no room for HATRED in Christ previous statements are very clear. In every statement the comparison is with the love for CHRIST. There is nowhere, where one hates self.

    These pronouncements should not be read to be in contrast with the previous statements about love. Remember, "God is love" If it were not for love Christ would not have left his throne to come down to be rediculed, humiliated and died on the cross.

  2. [Moderator's note: Please remember to use you christian name and surname]
    We cannot really love unconditionally if we are not connected to Christ as the source of AGAPE love. Loving our family without loving Christ first is selfishness. It may perish not only our soul but also our love ones. The love of Christ and the promise of eternal life lead us as a harvest in Christ kingdom and we can be harvester- to bring our family to Jesus.

  3. In a family,God can be prioritized in two ways: individually and collectively. Family worships have to be carried out daily as these could give parents opportunities to show and explain to their children how God loves them all, how to love Him above all ,how to know His will and purpose for each and how dependent they are of Him. Prayer meetings,fellowship, evangelism and personal and group Bible studies involving all family members are as essential as family worship services. These ways could help us focus on GOD as our top priority.

  4. We should not place a value on discipleship, especially, when we compare the cost of the Savior's life at the cross. Jesus gave His all, so should we. Our first priority is to live for Jesus and be a living witness for Him daily. Our devotion to Him should be first above all earthly ties. God bless.

  5. It is difficult for me to understand that a God of love could talk of hatred. I believe that as humans we think of the hatred that Jesus spoke about in the way we relate to somethings we hate. I believe that human hate is inspired by the devil but what Christ meant is loving less.

  6. [Moderator's note: Please remember to use you christian name and surname]
    For me it means making time alone with God every day, at the same time, consistently. To set an example for my husband and my son.

  7. I find this particular topic, as brought out in the lesson, dangerous. The reason is that it makes no distinction between personal relationship with Christ and the work "done for Christ" as a disciple on behalf of the Church. There is often confusion between these two distinct things.

    I have seen this confusion lead to burnout amongst members as they strive to do work for the Church at the expense of their families in the mistaken belief that they are putting Christ first. This confusion has also been exploited by cults to tear families apart and control associations with "outsiders".

    Our personal relationship with God drives the work we do as disciples. It influences our relationships with others.

    The cost of discipleship relates to how we respond to the influence of others in their attempt to discourage or disrupt our personal relationship with God. If our friends and family cut ties with us because of our beliefs, then we have to be prepared for it. But we are still called to witness to our family and friends if it is possible. As children we still have to honour our parents, nothing negates this divine command. But no parent has the right to tell their children what to believe. As parents we teach, but our children have to make their own minds up. They need to be allowed to make up their own minds. With this understanding then, the cost of discipleship might involve removing ourselves from an environment unhealthy to our relationship with God. Our loyalty to Christ dictates that we must witness to our friends and family where we can. We do this by letting them see the changes Christ has made in our lives.

    I grew up in a home where my parents were unequally yoked. My mother was an Adventist, my father was a nominal Anglican. It was pretty tough in a lot of ways having to deal with the fights and arguments. But in looking back on it, I believe my mother knew that God wanted my father to be saved too. She loved him and also wanted this. I really think this is the reason why she stuck it out. This is also a cost of discipleship.

    • Owen, I think the whole concept of the “cost of discipleship” can be dangerous in many ways if not handled properly. Often the concept is done with money when someone in authority in the church starts pressing people to give more than they can reasonably give. There is such a thing as proper money management as stewards of the gifts. It makes no sense whatsoever for someone to give everything he has and in so doing becomes a financial burden to the church himself unless the situation demands it.

      While I say that there are others that will say that it is impossible to out give God and to a certain degree that is certainly true. There are also times when God may require us to give everything but I don’t think it is always. I like the idea that everything is an the altar which means that we make everything available in our minds to God as a matter of commitment to Jesus then it is up to Him what He takes.

      If something like money stops us from having a relationship with Jesus like it did with the rich young ruler (Lk 18:22,23) then it is time to cut it off like the hand in the metaphor Jesus told (Mat 5:30). To me we don’t clear the house unless it is necessary to do so. For me the middle of the road is where I need to be, well balanced, rather than a fanatic on either side.

  8. I believe God's message is clear, in the sense that we need to place Him above all- whether it is ourselves, family, friends, etc. I can relate to this message because there are many times that I find myself tired from being a full-time working mom, a student, and a committed wife that by the time the day is wrapping up, I realized I have not made any time with God. I think it's important to prioritize God in all of our thoughts, actions, and proceedings- which at times might conflict with what our loved ones, friends, co-workers need and want from us, but in following Jesus' command we are exercising our faith that everything will work accordingly to His purpose.

  9. Discipleship is about building relationships and building relationships spends time. For me to have fallen in love and eventually married my wife, I invested a lot of time in the relationship, and among all other available ladies, I picked her not because she was the most beautiful or readily available, it is because I loved her since I spent a lot of time with her.

    The point in today's discussion and what I understand when I read the verses given, is that as a disciple of Christ, I need to spend more time with my God through prayer and studying his word. It is only then that I will love God more than anyone else. This means that He will teach me to love my family and friends and also spend quality time with them.

    By spending more time with family and friends and very little time with God it means you cannot be a disciple. The effort here is building a relationship with God and not physically spending all your time in church at the expense of your family. As christians, we need to move to a level whereby, when our family sees us, they see God through our character.

    Finally, it important for us to plan our day in advance, allocate sufficient time to spend in personal devotion and then other things follow in your plan.

    • Humanly speaking, the cost of discipleship is very scaring but with God everything is possible. The kind of hatred JC is talking about is not the human hatred but the godly hatred. What i mean is, can a parent hate her/his children when they disobey him or do what they are not supposed to do? You will hate what your child does but not him or her. This is the kind of hatred JC is talking about. If we do not put Him first in all that we do, he does not have any time for us. That is why He is saying that whoever loves the father, mother, brother, sister etc more than me,he is not worthy of me. But if we love him first, we will love the others automatically. We therefore need to be good disciples at our nuclear families, bring all nto the fold of God and our love for christ will easily fall into place.

  10. It is to our benefit we put Christ first in our in all that we do and before anyone else. He is the source of all that we need for true discipleship beginning with our families. Christ is very much aware of this. We cannot get the nutrients from other branches. We have to get it from the primary source the "Vine"(John 15:5Ou0. Our Lord wanted us to maximize the blessings we get from Him, because He knows as most of us have already experienced we will be transformed to be better spouses, parents, children and disciples for Him.

  11. We have to understand what Jesus is saying,we have to put Him first in everything because he could have stayed in Heaven and just let Satan rule; but he chose to send His Son to die for us,so we could be with him forever. What an awesome God we serve.


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