Loving Less to Love More

Jesus often used strong words to make a point. Luke 14:26 is no exception:

If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple (NASB).

Hate is a word that jumps out of this passage and gets your attention. Many have written on why Jesus used the word hate in this passage. When we look at the Greek word miséō, interpreted as hate, we see it means to love less; or placing one value over another.* As I reflected on that, another thought occurred to me. If we value God more than others, it changes how we relate to others.

In life we have many relationships with expectations. Whether it’s a father, mother, spouse, friend, children, brother or sister, there will be times they may disappoint or act cruelly toward you. One example in the Bible is Joseph. He had good reason to hate his brothers for selling him into slavery (Genesis 37:27-28). If Joseph had placed his brothers ahead of his relationship with God, he would’ve plotted to get revenge on them when he became prime minister of Egypt. Instead, him valuing God over his siblings (miséō) led him to say to his brothers:

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive (Genesis 15:20).”

If we value our family, even our life above God, it skews how we see God. We place these things ahead of how we serve God. People will disappoint you. They will make you angry. Life will not always meet your expectations. However, when we value God more than anything, it helps us see the bigger picture. When we have a heart for God, we are better equipped to forgive those who harm us. We actually learn to value the people in our life as God values them.

It’s an interesting thing to think about in Luke 14:26 that by “hating” others — by valuing God more than them — you can actually love them in a deeper and more powerful way. That is the dynamic of scripture. It challenges us in ways that at times seem backward, counterintuitive, but ultimately give us something far greater than we could achieve on our own.

© 2022, Chris G Thelen

But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. Luke 23:34 (NASB)

* Strong’s Greek: 3404. μισέω (miseó) — to hate

12 thoughts on “Loving Less to Love More

  1. Amen! Reading this discussion enhances the meaning of loving the Lord first and foremost. We cannot love others in our other relationships unless we take care of our business with God first.

  2. Wonderful insight, C. G. What you have said makes perfect sense. Loving God more achieves transformation, including our capacity to love others more–even the difficult ones. Thank you!

  3. I never saw this in the way you put it with Joseph. I suppose Jesus also did this with Mary. He chose obedience to God first (hating his mother) but He loved her greatly and from the cross entrusted her to John’s care.

    1. Interesting point. It is so counterintuitive to think that way — to think that Jesus put obedience to God above Mary. Yet in His obedience to God he loved her deeply and saw to it that she was provided for even as he suffered on the cross — just as God cares for us. Thanks for the comment! Blessings.

  4. This is why I love word studies, to dig deeper into God’s intent for us, and expand on His desires for us.
    Great example in the life of Joseph. And, excellent point in that, if we love God more, place Him above all else, we will expand our love for others, and be able to love in His way.

    1. Thanks for those thoughts. I am amazed at how God’s word keeps revealing things to us as we journey through life. The more we study it, the more it shows us about living life in Jesus. Blessings.

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