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What do you do when the Affair is with
The pictures in Susan's "picture
box" range from snapshots of church functions to pictures of our children
when they were tiny, but they do have one thing in common--Susan isn't
in the picture. Why? She's the official family photographer.
Recently, while thumbing
through the pictures, I remembered a story Pastor Dan Rhodes told me. Dan
is the pastor of two rural churches in Colorado and stays busy. Like most
pastors, he has plenty to do, but by being the pastor of two churches,
he has twice the committee meetings, and twice the worship services.
As Dan tells the story, his
daughter's third grade teacher requested a parent teacher conference with
him. His wife usually took care of those conferences, but the teacher wanted
to see him, not his wife.
At her insistence, he made
an appointment to drop by the school in the afternoon. "I wanted you to
see this drawing your daughter made of your family." She said.
Dan looked at the drawing
and asked, "Where am I?" "That's why I called you down here today," the
teacher responded, "I asked your daughter the same question and she said
you're never home so she left you out of the picture."(From FreshIllustrations
Dan had been busy doing the
Lord's work. It was noble work. Certainly we can excuse his absenteeism,
can't we? After all, our text today says, Luke 14:26 KJV If any
man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,
and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my
Does following God mean our
family gets the shaft?
Bill Hybels is the Pastor
of the largest church in America, Willow Creek Community Church,
just outside of Chicago, Illinois. His ministry began as an outreach
from another church to teenagers during the early 70's. They called the
youth ministry Son City. He and his wife Lynne recount the story
of their explosive church growth in their book Rediscovering
as I read an excerpt from the book, this is Lynne speaking:
"In my mind I am walking
again along the quiet, tree-lined streets from the church to the tiny home
where we had just begun our married life in May 1974. I am sitting at the
round kitchen table with the red tablecloth. Another lonely meal. Another
empty evening. An hour earlier I had begged Bill to stay home. He had looked
at me in disbelief. "Kids are dying and going to hell, and you want me
to stay home and hold your hand?" The words echo in my mind, and I hear
them over and over in different forms: Don't bother me, Lynne. How can
you demand that, Lynne? Six months into marriage, I am convinced I have
made a horrible mistake. I love the man I married. I love Son City. But
I hate our marriage. I hate the pain of disappointment. I hate mourning
the death of so many dreams. And I hate the loneliness."
(Hybels, p. 44) (From FreshIllustrations
Was Pastor Hybels right?
What's more important, holding your wife's hand, or preaching
the gospel? Is this what Jesus meant in Luke 14:26? Does our text
justify neglecting one's family?
Few people have the spiritual
stature of Billy Graham. His passion for souls and work to spread the gospel
endears him to Christians. His kind spirit and gentle demeanor endears
him to the world. But Graham would be the first to admit that he's a sinner
like the rest of us.
In his autobiography, Just
As I Am, Graham doesn't hide his faults or gloss over his mistakes. For
instance, there was the time Ruth, his wife, pleaded with him to cancel
his speaking engagement in Mobile, Alabama and stay home with her because
she was having labor pains. Graham told her she wasn't in labor and left
to go to work.
That evening, their daughter
"Gigi" was born. (Just As I Am, 97) (From FreshIllustrations
Was Billy Graham right in
ignoring the pleas of his wife to be with her during the delivery of their
daughter? Is this what Jesus meant in Luke 14:26? Does our text justify
Dr. Graham calls the 1949
Los Angeles Crusade the Watershed of his ministry. It was the one that
made him a household name and propelled him to the super-evangelist status.
But the eight weeks of meetings took a personal toll on his family. Toward
the end of the meeting, the Montgomery's, Ruth's sister and brother-in-law
came up for the meeting. Billy greeted them and admired a child they were
holding. "Whose baby is this?" Billy asked, only to find out it was his
own daughter Anne.
(Just As I am, 156-157) (From
Is this what Jesus meant
in Luke 14:26? Does our text justify neglecting one's family?
Let's re-read the text in
a modern translation.
Luke 14:26 NLT "If
you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and
mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, more than your own
life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
Warren Weirsbe agrees
with the modern translation. He wrote, "The word hate does not suggest
positive antagonism but rather "to love less."
Genesis 29:30-31 NLT
So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her more than Leah. He then
stayed and worked the additional seven years.  But because Leah was
unloved, the Lord let her have a child, while Rachel was childless.
Malachi 1:2-3 NLT
"I have loved you deeply," says the Lord. But you retort, "Really? How
have you loved us?" And the Lord replies, "I showed my love for you by
loving your ancestor Jacob. Yet Esau was Jacob's brother,  and I rejected
Esau and devastated his hill country. I turned Esau's inheritance into
a desert for jackals."
Matthew 10:37 NLT
If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy
of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are
not worthy of being mine.
Each of these scriptures
show a consistent pattern, one that supports the New Living Translation's
rendering of the verse. To put it another way, God wants first place in
your life, but He doesn't want you to put your family in last place.
In the Ten Commandments,
God said, Exodus 20:3 KJV Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Whether it is work, hobbies,
leisure, family or church, nothing comes before God.
In the New Testament,
Jesus makes a promise to those who put God first.
Matthew 6:33 KJV But
seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these
things shall be added unto you.
By finding "True North,"
or putting the Kingdom of God first, everything else falls into place.
Notice how this principle played out in Jesus' family life.
As a part of His devotion
to God, Jesus provided for His family. Let me read a few excerpts from
Luke 2:48-51 NLT His
parents didn't know what to think. "Son!" his mother said to him. "Why
have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching
for you everywhere."  "But why did you need to search?" he asked. "You
should have known that I would be in my Father's house."  But they
didn't understand what he meant.  Then he returned to Nazareth with
them and was obedient to them; and his mother stored all these things in
He lingered at the temple,
but came home when his mother told Him to.
John 2:3-5 NLT The
wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus' mother spoke to him
about the problem. "They have no more wine," she told him.  "How does
that concern you and me?" Jesus asked. "My time has not yet come." 
But his mother told the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
He submitted to God's
timing, but still helped His mother at the wedding.
John 19:26-27 NLT
When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved,
he said to her, "Woman, he is your son."  And he said to this disciple,
"She is your mother." And from then on this disciple took her into his
He died on the cross for
our sins, but first provided for His mother.
Jesus had an uncanny ability
of balancing his family responsibilities and still doing God's will. The
two things don't have to be mutually exclusive.
In a recent interview with
HOME LIFE, Billy Graham was asked, "As you look back on your ministry and
its effect on your family, do you wish you had done anything differently?
Graham responded, "I would spend more time with my family . . .every day
I was absent from my family is gone forever." (Home Life, June 2000, p.
Following God doesn't
mean we neglect our family, it means we care for our family according to
A Mike Tyson punch couldn't
hurt Dan Rhodes any more than the teacher's words. Dan made some radical
changes in his behavior and found that he could do his job and be a good
Are you in the picture with
your family? Or are you too busy? It doesn't matter if what you are busy
doing is good and noble. Neglecting your family is neglecting your family.
Paul said, "But those who
won't care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same
household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers."
(1 Tim. 5:8 NIV)