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)