Does putting God first cause you to love others better or worse?

“Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:34-39)

When I was a youth pastor, I remember engaging in a conversation with a friend of one of my youth group kids who was questioning whether or not God was real. At one point, as I was sharing with her how God was the most important person in my life, she asked the question, “Isn’t that offensive to your wife?” It’s an understandable question. After all, I know that there are non-Christian spouses who are bitter about their significant other’s devotion to Christ, because they feel that their marriage takes second place.

My answer, though, was that putting Christ first helps me to be a better husband and to love my wife better. And the same should be true for every other avenue of life. Our devotion to Christ should make us better parents, children, siblings, neighbors, employees, co-workers, bosses, and so on. Why is that so?

1) Integrity – our desire to honor God with our lives means that we have a goal and motivation that does not change, regardless of the circumstances. In any relationship, there are going to be times that the other person acts in a way that does not deserve our love, honor, or effort. When a spouse betrays or wounds us, we don’t want to treat them with love. When a boss is unfair, we don’t want to give them our best effort. But if we live our lives to honor God, then we want to live to please Him, regardless of what other people deserve. And so we are able to give love, honor, and effort in good times and in bad times.

2) The Holy Spirit – When we come to faith in Jesus, He gives us His Holy Spirit, replacing our heart that resists God with a heart that desires to know and serve Him (Ezekiel 37:27). This means that we have the power inside of us that enables us to love and serve others in a way we couldn’t before we knew Christ.

3) God is on the throne
– When Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we do not need to find our security or significance in other relationships or the things of this world. This is good news for our spouses, children, employees, etc.! It means that our spouse does not have to be perfect, because Jesus is. They do not have to complete us, because Christ does. Our children, or our parents, do not need to be perfect either, because our identity does not depend upon them but upon God’s approval of us. Our job does not have to give us significance, because in Christ we are already significant. And so we can love and serve the people in our life without crushing them with our expectations of them or suffocating them with our neediness.

Giving your life to Christ does not necessarily mean you have to love others in your life less. When we understand God’s love for us, we will be able to love and serve those in our life with a more genuine, less selfish love.

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