But Family Is Everything

Dan Lovaglia, Camp Pastor, Camp Paradise | May 30, 2024

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
  a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

“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.
Matthew 10:34-37

“Family is everything” rolls off the tongue. This mantra is promoted by pro athletes after wins and losses, by actors at award ceremonies, and scores of devoted grandparents and parents. I’ve seen this quote on wall stencils in homes and emblazoned on sweatshirts and travel tumblers. We love to embed and spread the message that the most important thing in life is family.

The assumption that family is everything and everything revolves around family makes sense. The home we grew up in significantly influences who we are and where we are today. Living in a family births fond memories, ongoing frustrations, and everything in between. We experience the most intense emotions with people we’re closest to, but family is a nest that no healthy person wants to stir up unnecessarily. “Honor your father and mother” (whether our parents believe the Bible or not) is what we’re told from the time we’re measured in height. But then Jesus comes along and shakes things up (as usual).

In Matthew 10:34–37, Christ cautions His closest followers and whoever they encounter to keep their priorities straight—heavenly Father, then earthly family. Jesus may be the Prince of Peace, but don’t trade loyalty to family over faith in Him. Technically nothing has changed since the Ten Commandments—honor God first, honoring parents comes in at number five (Ex. 20; Matt. 19:19). To anyone embracing a “but family is everything” excuse to follow the Lord without reservation, Jesus makes it clear: your loyalty is to the heavenly Father and His kingdom first, even if your family disagrees.

The thread of potential division between people with misaligned values is woven throughout Jesus’ ministry instructions in Matthew 10. But what’s not there is a green light to be divisive. There’s a way to live distinctly from, and even in peaceful disagreement with, others who choose family (or whatever) over Christ. In the end, you and I have a responsibility to God’s purpose and priorities first, even when family feels like, but isn’t everything.

Next Steps

Prioritizing Jesus before your family takes time. Spend 15–30 minutes prayerfully reflecting on and responding to these questions:

  • Are you more closely connected to Christ or your family and why?
  • Does God or your family influence your priorities and decisions more? Explain.
  • How did today’s devotion challenge to you honor your heavenly Father even when family feels like it should come first?