Matthew 10.37 Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
The Bible uses emphasis to bring clarity and direction to scripture. For example, one of the ten commandments points out we should love God “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Another commands us to love and honor our parents. Should we split our attention between the two equally? This scripture answers that concern by showing us where God wishes us to prioritize our attentions and passions. On the surface, there may be little difference between someone who loves their parents a bit more than God, and one who loves God a bit more than his parents…but in God’s eyes, the difference makes all of the difference in eternity.
Throughout history, how man emphasizes certain scriptures…or even certain words in a passage… has defined and differentiated denominations and even entire religions working off of the same text. To see this in action, review this example from “The Discovery Bible” website…
I think Paul can. = I think Paul can, even though you don’t.
I think Paul can. = He may be able to do it, but I’m not really sure.
I think Paul can. = Paul can do it, not somebody else.
I think Paul can. = For sure he can do it; there’s no doubt about it!
A small change or a small difference may make all of the difference in the world. For example, consider the following passages.
Rom. 5:1, “therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
James 2:24 “You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.”
By emphasizing passages like Romans 5.1, some churches people receive salvation through faith alone. By focusing on passages like James 2.24, other faiths teach that only through good works may one find grace. One of the most popular interpretations attempts to balance the two equally, arguing we receive salvation only by demonstrating both faith and good works. Where, exactly, a church or theology puts the emphasis on this one topic makes a huge difference in how that church teaches other lessons, and lives out its day to day life as a group.
When a ship plans to cross the Atlantic, an in correct heading of even one degree can place the ship miles from its original destination. So, how can we insure that we have the right heading as we navigate the choppy waters of life?
The quick answer seems to be something along the lines of “Keep your eyes on Christ.” And, certainly, that axiom holds true. However, what does that mean in a practical application? How can we understand God, who eclipses our ability to understand Him? The Bible makes this crystal clear in 1 John 4.8, “Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent His one and only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.”
Therefore, as we read scripture, and struggle with some of the tensions or passages that do not quite make sense, we would be wise to interpret such passages with love in mind. You see, the Pharisees would take a different approach. They felt legalism, or the letter of the law, took precedent above all else. Jesus rebuked them harshly, as a result.
Do not let this idea, however, keep you from preaching the truth about sin and the Gospel. One might thing that explaining the homosexuality or abortion as rude, and therefore, unloving. Nothing could be further from the truth. After all, a doctor who loves his patient will love him enough to give him the truth about his illness, even if that truth is hard. However, such a loving doctor will communicate that information with peace, patience, kindness and love. Jesus does warn us that we must love Him more than anyone else. So, ultimately, we must love our fellow man, and God, enough to boldly proclaim the Gospel message to everyone, even at the risk of offending them. The emphasis of our message, however, should be done in love.
This quick message seems simple at first. And, in a manner, it really is. However, like most truths in life, we often take it for granted and, eventually, ignore it entirely through bad habits and traditions…. Just like the Pharisees. We hurt ourselves, those around us, and break God’s heart, when we emphasize the wrong things and, ultimately, miss his mark by miles