Is your family more important than God?
What is the most important priority in your life? I am willing to bet that whether your actions said so or not, you would say, “My relationship with God.” But when it comes to making actual sacrifices, isn’t easier to make sacrifices for your family than it is for God? So is your family more important than God?This post was inspired by a sermon I heard on Sunday regarding putting God before your family. The pastor started the message by asking the congregation, “Why do you feel the need to skip church when you have family in town?” Everyone was cracking up because for anyone who grew up in the church, they knew that there was a grain of truth to what he was saying. The pastor went on to explain how churchgoers who attend regularly don’t see the big deal with skipping one Sunday to entertain family. He then compared this situation to Samson and Delilah and how Samson didn’t see the harm in just spending a little time with Delilah. Of course, attending church in and of itself is not equivalent to your relationship with God but attending church is an important aspect of maintaining your relationship with God.
I didn’t particularly agree with the pastor’s characterization but the point of the pastor’s sermon was to note that it is very easy for people to allow their relationship with God to take a back seat to their family. One example he gave was whether or not our goals are driven by wanting to make our families happy as opposed to pleasing God. And I can’t front because during the big events in my life, (i.e. graduating from high school and college) my biggest joy was grounded in wanting to make my family proud. Now I would say that my desire to please my family is not unreasonable but then again, I could be wrong and so could you.
And there are other times when pleasing your family is not the issue but trying to help them through tough dire financial straits. The pastor talked about how tithing can and does take a nosedive when our family needs money. He likened this to a lack of faith in God and an over reliance on your own financial means. The scripture he used to support this point was found in I Kings 17:10-16 that reads;
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city,
behold, the widow woman [was] there gathering of sticks: and he called to her,
and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch [it], he called to her, and said, Bring me, I
pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. 12 And she said, [As] the LORD thy
God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little
oil in a cruse: and, behold, I [am] gathering two sticks, that I may go in and
dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 13 And Elijah said unto
her, Fear not; go [and] do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake
first, and bring [it] unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 14 For
thus saith the LORD God of Israel, the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither
shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day [that] the LORD sendeth rain upon the
earth. 15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and
he, and her house, did eat [many] days. 16 [And] the barrel of meal wasted not,
neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he
spake by Elijah.
If the KJV is difficult to understand, what happened in this passage was that Elijah (a prophet) asked a widow woman for a meal. However, she responded by saying that I’d like to but I am on my last meal and once I make it for my son and I, we are going to die. But God, still speaking through Elijah said make a meal for me first and then make a meal for you and your son. Once she did this, she was rewarded with food for many days.
I understand the logic behind this such that God didn’t need her food, but He needed someone who had enough faith that he can trust with His blessings. But I don’t know if I have enough faith to let someone else eat before I let my child eat. And then I came across a verse in I Timothy 5:8 that states, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives and especially his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” How do you account for this difference?
I don’t know but what I do know is that those who call themselves Christians are disciples of God. Again, we see an example in the Bible of where God challenges us to get our priorities straight. Luke 9:57-62 reads,
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you
wherever you go.” 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have
nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another
man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my
father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and
proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord;
but first let me go back and say good bye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No
one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the
kingdom of God.”
Now I know many of us have read that passage before and thought to ourselves, “If Jesus asked me to follow him, I would drop everything and follow Him.” But would you really? I think many of us have been desensitized to the idea of let the dead bury the dead, but seriously, could you see yourself doing something as gargantuan as following Jesus without calling Mom saying, “Hey Ma, I am about to follow Jesus, I might not see you again but I’ll call you later.” Do you have that type of conviction? By now I hope I don’t have to bring up the agony of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac but I thought I’d mention it anyway.
So what’s the point? Well, I haven’t come up with any grand answers because if anything, I’ve created more questions for myself. I just think that when people say God is the most important aspect of their lives, when this is tested against the Bible, cracks start to show. And to be clear, I was raised on the idea of ranked priorities but I have revised my conception of priorities that reflect a circle with God in the center and my priorities spread along the circumference. My challenge is making sure that God maintains the center of my life and making sure I allow God to touch all of my priorities, including my family. So do you let God touch your family or does your family have a circle of its own?
Stay up fam,