God has created within us a critical need to be loved and cared for. Children who have been emotionally neglected were found to have significantly lower IQ’s, as well as significant deficits in reading, mathematics, visual memory, verbal memory, general planning and problem solving.
If our critical need for love is not met during our formative years, it causes long-term consequences. Those fortunate enough to be born into a loving family escape these consequences.
But a loving family can also become a trap for us later in life.
God placed the need for love within us so that we would satisfy it through Him.
He is the only one who can ultimately fulfill our need for love and acceptance.
Unfortunately, a common and seemingly legitimate way to satisfy our need for love and acceptance is by pouring ourselves into our relationships within our family. We begin to love our family and draw from their love more than the Lord.
This is what Jesus is referring to in today’s verse.
There is nothing wrong with loving the members of our family.
What is wrong is loving them more than Him.
God gives us the gift of family as an expression of His love for us. However, when we place our family ahead of Him, we have made them into our God. Family becomes our idol.
This form of idolatry is so appealing because family, spouse, and children are in front of us and express their love to us in ways that are tangible. They communicate their love to us through tangible acts. God is intangible, and His love is expressed indirectly through His salvation and blessings.
We can’t hug God.
Yet God will never fail us. Though He isn’t present to us in a way we can physically sense, He never leaves us. Wherever we go, we can talk to Him and know that He is with us.
In your quest for shalom, make sure you avoid the temptation to fulfill your need for love through anyone other than God.
Prayer: Lord show me if I am loving others more than You, and help me to always love You first!