16: First Things First
There are many reasons why devoted parents invest their time and energy discipling their children at home. God’s word tells us to “teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7 And studies continue to be released stating that 70%-90% of children who are active participants in church sponsored activities such as youth groups and Sunday school are walking away from the church in their early twenties.
There is a direct command from God for parents to teach and there is a growing awareness of the need for parents to assume responsibility for their children’s training. Similarly there are many motivations for devoted believers to leave the comforts of their native soil to make disciples of all nations. God clearly commands us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” Matthew 28:19. And the magnitude of data telling us of the millions that die each year without a saving knowledge of Jesus is not to be denied.
Once again we have a direct command and a compelling need. In either scenario, our primary motivation must not be the need or the command. It must be the love of God.
When J. Hudson Taylor was director of the China Inland Mission, he often interviewed candidates for the mission field. On one occasion, he met with a group of applicants to determine their motivations for service. “And why do you wish to go as a foreign missionary?” he asked one. “I want to go because Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” was the reply. Another said, “I want to go because millions are perishing without Christ.” Others gave different answers. Then Hudson Taylor said, “All of these motives, however good, will fail you in times of testings, trials, tribulations, and possible death. There is but one motive that will sustain you in trial and testing; namely, the love of Christ.”
I have been asking God to help me to love Jesus more. I want to begin at the beginning, and the first and greatest command is to “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:5
The love of God precedes the command to teach our children. As one man put it, “The more we love God, the more we will love our neighbor.” Paul speaks of his motivation for a life laid down in the interests of others. For the love of Christ controls(or constrains) us, 2 Corinthians 5:14.
It is the motivation of our heavenly Father. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
We know it is possible to lose our first love as evidenced by the Ephesian church. May God renew our hearts by His Spirit and enable us to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
I have added scriptures for further meditation and another quote from J. Hudson Taylor.
Romans 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 Corinthians 13:13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
“I poured out my soul before God. Again and again confessing my grateful love to Him who had done everything for me. I besought Him to give me some work to do for Him as an outlet for love and gratitude.” J. Hudson Taylor