Summary: When we lose that which has always been so important to us, we end up finding that which we've been searching for all along.
8 Words to Change Your Family: Commitment
Rev. Brian Bill
Did you know that it’s costly to have kids? According to a report from the USDA called “Expenditures on Children by Families,” it will cost a middle-class family over $200,000 to raise a child born in 2009 to the age of 17.
Did you know that it’s even more costly to follow Jesus Christ? According to an eyewitness reporter named Matthew, it will cost you everything you have.
To be committed to our kids and to be committed to Christ is costly. But it’s a price worth paying. I want to propose that the best way to change your family is to make your faith your number one priority.
I’m reminded of the challenge Joshua laid on the children of Israel right before they entered the Promised Land in Joshua 24:15: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua is calling others to a binding commitment but not before he commits himself and his household to serve the Lord.
Our focus today is “commitment,” the sixth word in our “Eight Words to Change Your Family” series. The word “commit” means to “to give in charge” or “entrust” or “to put” or “to roll.” I like this last idea for it shows that instead of running our own lives, we’re to roll everything over to Him. That’s how the word is used in Psalm 37:5: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.”
Our families will not change until we fortify our faith by paying the price of total commitment to Christ. Matthew 10:37-39 lays out two different dimensions of what complete commitment is all about.
1. Love Jesus more than anyone else. Check out verse 37: “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” James MacDonald writes: “To allow our kids to mean more to us than our relationship with the Lord is to put them in great danger.” That’s why Abraham was asked to take his son Isaac up on the mountain in Genesis 22 and sacrifice him. God wanted this father to settle who it is that he loved more – his son or his Savior.
Kevin DeYoung talks about two extremes that we should avoid as parents.
• Family as nothing. He calls this the family straightjacket where the family curtails what it is that we really want to do. In this view, kids are to be seen and not heard, or maybe not even seen. Some parents see their kids as a nuisance and will do anything to not be around them.
• Family as everything. The other extreme is when the family comes first and children are at the center of our lives. If the sin of parents awhile ago was to ignore their family today it’s to make children our first focus. DeYoung points out that we no longer have a patriarchy or a matriarchy; we have a “kindergarchy.” We do our kids no favors when they think they are the center of our life. Too many of us parents have become child-centered instead of Christ-centered. When we cater to all their needs we can end up raising self-absorbed, self-focused children who go through life with an entitlement mindset.
The main point Jesus is making is that while family is foundational, following Christ must come first. An overemphasis on family can rob us of faith but there’s something else that causes us to go in the ditch. It’s our very selves. We’re to love Christ more than those closest to us and we’re to love Jesus more than we love our own life.
2. Lose your life and follow Christ. Verse 38-39: “And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Cross-bearers are called to follow the Crucified One. Discipleship is demanding because we’re called to die to our desires.
We have romanticized the cross and turned it into something we put on our walls or wear around our necks. When we do reference this verse, we often say something like, “Well, I guess that’s just the cross I must bear” and normally it refers to putting up with an obnoxious relative or living with an illness or some other affliction. But let’s remember that the cross was carried by condemned criminals and ended with a humiliating and excruciating execution. Everyone knew the person was saying goodbye to everything and that there was no turning back.