“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” –Matthew 10:37–39
In the middle of class one day, one of my CCD students looked up with a quizzical look on his face. “I have a question,” he said. “Who are you supposed to love more: God or your family?”
“God,” I answered. “Because if you love God, He will help you to love your family better.”
It’s a simple question, but the answer can be difficult for us to fully understand. As children, our love for our families comes naturally. In fact, God has placed them in our lives to model His love for us, His protective care. Our inclination to love them wholeheartedly is a good thing—however, we cannot do so without remembering Who gave them to us in the first place.
Only if our love is directed through God will it be pure and full. When we try to love others but do not call upon the love of God to guide us, our love becomes twisted and self-serving, and we make idols of those whom we love. Only when we have first been loved by Him are we able to truly love others. We all crave a love that is deeper than what any human being can give, and if we try to demand that kind of love from another person, we will be disappointed. If we try to love them with our own strength alone, our love will fall short. However, if we see them as a gift from our loving God, things will fall into perspective. Loving our family means allowing ourselves to be filled with the love of God so that we can radiate it outward into our homes.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. –1 Corinthians 13:1–3