9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:9–11, NKJV)
Celebrating Father’s Day each year reminds us of the value of fathers, something the Bible repeatedly teaches. Far more than mere progenitors, fathers shape future generations and thus, nations and the world (not to mention churches). Their value cannot be overstated. We thank God for the gift of godly fathers and ask Him to continue to bless us with faithful fathers. We need and honor faithful fathers who listen to God’s word to guide their families. We need and honor faithful fathers who learn and live in the truth of God’s word. We need and honor faithful fathers who lead their families with diligence and duty, sacrifice and strength that comes from God. We need and honor faithful fathers who love the Lord first and, in that love, train their children to serve God and others (Heb. 12:5-7). Our heavenly Father is the perfect Father. May fathers listen and learn from His word to lead and love as He does us, His children.
21 “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:21–22, NKJV)
Jesus spoke these words to His twelve apostles before sending them out to preach “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6-7). After His resurrection, He would send them into all the world to preach His gospel (Mk. 16:15). Jesus was preparing them for the resistance they would face because of their faith in Him and their work for Him. The gospel produced harsh reactions from faithless family and friends as well as strangers in the first century. (It still does.) Their lives would be endangered and embroiled in controversy. Jesus exhorted them to endure the hatred and persecutions “to the end” to be saved. This helps us understand what Jesus went on to say, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matt. 10:34, 35-36). Many react to the truth of the gospel with hostility, including family members. Just as He called the apostles to endure, He calls us to love Him more, follow His truth first, deny ourselves, and always fear God rather than people (Matt. 10:37-39, 28). When we choose family (or ourselves) over the truth of the gospel we are no longer worthy of Christ. We will lose our life, not save it (Matt. 10:37-39).
19 Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. 20 And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” 21 But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” (Luke 8:19–21, NKJV)
This compelling moment in the life of Jesus draws our attention to some thought-provoking and faith-building truth. First, the Lord is impartial. He does not act out of favoritism (Rom. 2:11; Acts 10:34-35). Jesus did not command the crowd to part merely because His family wanted to see Him. Note: The doctrine that Mary has special access to her Son Jesus is not support by the Scriptures. Mary was a disciple of Jesus, just as others (Acts 1:14). Praying to Mary is a futile, fabricated fallacy that elevates a human to divine status. There is to be no nepotism or other forms of partiality in the Lord’s church (Jas. 2:1-4). Such favoritism elevates flesh and blood above the mutual spiritual relationship we share in Christ. Secondly, Jesus clearly defined His spiritual family as those who “hear the word of God and do it.” When we refuse what the Scriptures say, we are refusing to be in a family relationship with Jesus. Let us receive and obey the word of God so that Jesus is not ashamed to call us His brethren (Heb. 2:11). After all, Jesus is over the house of God (the church), not us (Heb. 3:6).
5 Do not trust in a friend; Do not put your confidence in a companion; Guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom. 6 For son dishonors father, daughter rises against her mother, daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; A man’s enemies are the men of his own household. 7 Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me. (Micah 7:5–7, NKJV)
The sins of Israel had cause corruption throughout the land. Micah (and through him, the people) was counseled by God not to trust in a friend, a close companion, or even in his own family. There he would find enemies of truth and righteousness. Micah put His trust in God, who would hear his pleas, see his circumstances and save him in the evil day. Jesus drew from this passage in Matthew 10:34-39, teaches His disciples (and us) that to be worthy of Him we must love Him more than anyone, including our own lives. Family and friends are liable to forsake the right ways of the Lord and be opponents of God’s truth. But, Jesus never will. So, put your trust in Him and patiently endure the trials and temptations of life as you wait for His salvation (Rom. 13:11-14).
2 And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’” (Acts 7:2–3, NKJV)
We have heard people say that God would never expect them to leave (go contrary to) their family to do His will. Yet, that is exactly what God commanded Abraham to do. Abraham obeyed God without hesitation and went to a foreign land, all because God said to do so. This is the essence of God-pleasing faith. Listen to Hebrews 11:8: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Genuine faith in Jesus Christ means loving Him more than we love our own family and our own country. Genuine faith obeys the word of God, even when relatives will not. Family is important, but family is not the most important thing (God is more important, see Matthew 10:34-38). Many people have a hard time with this simple but profound truth. The gospel of Christ calls us to make a fundamental choice of Jesus before family, before country, and before self. Without faith (the kind of faith Abraham had) it is impossible to please God. Why? Because “he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Make sure Christ is always first in your life.
47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” 48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:47–50, NKJV)
Family relations are very important to us, and that is a good thing. But, relations of the flesh do not supersede the spiritual relationship we must have with Jesus Christ. That is the fundamental lesson of this passage. John the apostle introduced his gospel by affirming this truth. He wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). Being in the kingdom of God is not based on your fleshly birth and heritage, but on being born again of “water and the Spirit” (John 3:3-5). This enlightens our understanding that being a disciple of Christ demands loving Him more than our own family members (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26). This also supports the truth that the church is the Israel of God today, not physical Israel (Romans 2:28-29; Galatians 6:16). Be sure you are doing the will of God and that your loyalties are to Christ before every other fleshly relation (v. 50).
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. (Matthew 10:37, NKJV)
Jesus demands our first allegiance. The closest relationships we have are not to be given greater importance and priority than our faithfulness to Jesus Christ. In this matter, Jesus does not ask of us what He did not also do. Jesus did the Father’s will, even when His brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:5). Jesus gave preference to those who follow the will of God instead of His own mother and brothers by saying, “whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:49-50). We cannot choose family over God’s truth, because truth sanctifies us, not family (John 17:17). Jesus was very clear about what discipleship requires. It requires loving Him more than we love our parents, our children, our siblings and everyone else. Otherwise, we are not worthy of Him and cannot be His disciple (Luke 14:26). The general religious community does not know this Jesus. The world certainly does not know this Jesus. Not a few Christians have trouble knowing this Jesus, too. But this is the true Jesus! Family does not define faithfulness and fellowship with God in the Lord’s church – the word of Christ does (1 John 1:5-7; 2 John 9-11). When you choose to follow Jesus, you are choosing to love Him more than your earthly family.
If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows. (1 Timothy 5:16, NKJV)
Family is the first line of provision and protection for the elderly. Just as God gave the family structure to take care of children, family also has the responsibility to care for their older members. Jesus severely rebuked the Pharisees for not taking care of their parents by falsely claiming their duty was complete when they had devoted their goods to God (Mk. 9:7-13). Today’s verse makes a difference between who the local church is charged to relieve, and those for whom the family has primary charge. The church is not to be charged with the ongoing care of widows (and widowers) who have Christian children. They bear the first responsibility. The church has its own charge; those widows who do not have children to care for them. God’s plan works, when we honor God, and our parents who need our care.
“For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35, NKJV)
With these words, Jesus ranked the spiritual relationship one has with God in His family as more profound and fundamental than one’s relationship with family in the flesh. Doing the will of God brings us into familial relation with Jesus, but to disobey the will of God forfeits our right to claim a relationship with Jesus. With similar emphasis, Jesus said in another place, “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” (Matt. 10:37). Our first priority, then, must always be Christ and doing the will of God. While we love our families in the flesh, our Heavenly Father’s will takes precedence. Let us shape and mold ourselves after His will first, and then we will be better equipped to put all of our earthly relations in their proper places.
The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands. (Proverbs 14:1, NKJV)
A woman has tremendous influence over her family. Instead of pitting one gender against another (like many do today), God created woman as His crowning achievement to complete what was lacking in man (Gen. 2:18-23). The wise woman knows this, and sets her heart upon being the strength that builds up her husband and children. She chooses words that comfort and soothe, that instruct and support the family in the way of righteousness. She is careful not to tear down her family with harsh words and critical comparisons. She holds godly values and goals which are informed and framed by the word of God, not the standards of this age. “She watches over the ways of her household” and “fears the Lord” (Prov. 31:27, 30). Ladies, please understand that you hold great power over the success or failure of your house. Bring to your home the faith and grace that allows love to flourish, not the strife and turmoil of sin that will surely pull it apart. Beautify yourself “with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God,” building up your house with the strength of holiness (1 Pet. 3:4).