“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” — Matthew 10:37-38 (NIV)

When God called Abram to leave the land of his father to go to the Promised Land, He said, ?Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father?s house?? (Genesis 12:1)

Abram left the country but he took with him his nephew, Lot. The following chapters show that this decision would cost Abram. He would pay for this direct disobedience to God?s instructions.

Immediately my thoughts took me to the Words of Jesus in the gospels — ?He who loves father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me?? (Matthew 10:37). A few verses earlier, Jesus said, ?I came to set a man against his father?.?

Jesus is NOT advocating family disunity, nor is he asking us not to love them. After all, in the epistles, Paul surfaced the same principle as the 5th commandment — to ?honour your father and mother.?

What Jesus is telling His disciples, is that because of their spiritual devotion to God, there may be conflicts. They must make a decision to put God first in their lives.

I grew up having to make a decision like this for Jesus. When I first told my family I believed in Jesus, they did not mind me attending church. But when I sought permission for baptism, persecution came.

Jesus? words encouraged me to put God first. But I continued to love and honour them, so far as it did not conflict with God.

Twice a month, when the family offered food to idols, I stood my ground and refused to partake of it. Because of that I had to go hungry. Also, at home and in public, some of them were verbally abusive toward me.

Though it was difficult for a teenager to face physical and emotional persecution, God enabled me to persevere. The words of Jesus, ??there is no one who has left house?mother or father?for My sake and for the gospel sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now?along with persecutions?? (Mark 10:29-30) were not only encouraging and comforting, but were promises that I claimed.

Over the years I?ve watched the Lord honour His words as I put Him first. He has given me many spiritual parents and siblings.

I am very firm in my belief in God, and I want my family to know this same God who can save them from their sins. I know that I cannot ?cave in? to their desires or I?ll be telling them that what I believe is not important.

It has been my prayer that because I put God first, they will think twice about what I am doing, and why.

Since my conversion forty years ago, my mother, grandmothers, a brother, nieces and cousins have trusted in Jesus. Slowly, more family members are becoming God?s children.

What kind of struggles do you face in putting God first in your life? How have you made your stand for Him?

Thought For The Week (TFTW) is contributed by Dr Koh Siang Kiang, Associate Professor (Christian Education) at the Singapore Bible College (SBC). She graduated from SBC and Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), USA, and has served in various ministries for more than 35 years, including teaching at DTS. Dr Koh has been with SBC for the last 10 years, and has a passion for people and teaching the Word of God. She also loves to make the Bible come alive by leading tours to the Holy Land, and has led 12 such trips. To help her relax, Dr Koh likes to cook and cross-stitch.