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Do I Really Have to Hate My Own Life to Be A Disciple?

It's that serious.

Luke 14:25-35 (ESV)

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Greek word for “hate” in verse 26 is “miseo.” Yes, it does mean hate, and the vast majority of English Bibles translate it as “hate.” However, this is to be understood in a comparative sense. Thus, some Bibles translate this passage as, “does not love me more than his own father …” The Bibles that do translate it as “hate” often footnote the comparative sense. Conversely, those that don’t, often say, “literally, hate” in a footnote.

In other words, “hate” here doesn’t have the distilled anger sense that it has in modern usage. For example, consider how we are supposed to not love money. If we do not love money at all, then we hate money in the sense it is used here.

But “miseo” can mean hate in the modern sense of the word. The play on words is intended and – as usual – Jesus is trying to shock folks into paying attention.

The end of verse 26 really gels this. The Greek that’s translated as “cannot be my disciple” really means “is unable to be my disciple.” It’s not that they’re disallowed; it’s that they can’t cut it.

Jesus can’t say it any plainer than this – being a Christian requires total commitment. It will cost you everything.

The rest of the passage is a collection of illustrations of counting the cost.

Christians living in the Middle East right now don’t need to be reminded about counting the cost of following Christ. They live it every day. Please pray for them.

Their situation is so scary that the usual prayers don’t even seem to fit. Yes, we should ask God to bless them and protect them, but the spiritual warfare is where the real action lies. Ask the Lord to bring great forces to bear on this conflict. Ask Him to bring victory and peace.

And most of all, ask the Lord to comfort and encourage His people.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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