Disciple of Thecla
11/3/11 at 10:45 AM 0 Comments

First Love

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Who is your first love? Who do you consider most important or the top priority when it comes to love? Jesus declared the greatest commandment to be "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Mathew 22:37) and the second greatest to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus Christ dedicated Himself completely to God, and we as Christians who worship and revere the same God should and must dedicate ourselves completely to God.

This means that we should abandon any goals of fame or fortune. Any fame or wealth should come as a result of fulfilling a purpose and not of personal desire. A rich young man went to Jesus for advice on how to be a follower of Him, and Jesus replied, "Go, sell what you have, and give your money to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow Me." (Mathew 19:21) Jesus also said, "he who lays up [stores] treasure for himself is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:21). Now, there is nothing wrong with wealth as long as the wealthy contribute heartily to the community. Although Jesus condemns the obsessive and greedy hoarding of money by the rich, demanding that they redistribute their fortune is also against the Bible because the people who demand would be the greedy and selfish individuals. Furthermore, demanding money completely eliminates the opportunity for the wealthy to display charity and benevolence. Unfortunately, there are even Christian leaders who are greedy and selfish, obsessed too much with their own wealth.

In our dedication to God, we should also remove any expectation of finding a spouse. I know, you readers are probably thinking that I am anti-marriage or that I want everyone to be celibate. Many of the apostles married during their mission to spread the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:5), so obviously God does approve of marriage. Also, all but one of the apostles were bachelors during their travels with Jesus, so God provided some of the apostles with wives after they dedicated themselves to Him and began their Commission. God may provide a person with a spouse, but He may not. True dedication will be following His will for our lives. 

I bet the apostles never thought 'when will I be married?' or 'I need to take a break from gospel-preaching to find a wife.' Instead of desiring a wife, they desired first and foremost to preach the good news of salvation. Some married and others did not.  Jesus said, "everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife of children or lands for My name's sake shall receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life." (Mathew 19:29)

A surface reading shows that Jesus hates a loving family, but this is not true. Jesus cherishes the family and gave plenty of advice for family problems (Luke 7:11-15; Mathew 18:21-22; Luke 15:11-32) to ensure that families remain wholesome and without resentment. Nonetheless, Jesus asserted that God must be the ultimate priority for each of His followers. God must be the first love - top priority - for each Christian. Because God was their first priority, the apostles never actively searched for or desired a wife. The apostles - except for Peter - probably expected to remain celibate, and God gave wives to the apostles who He intended for marriage. If they were intended for marriage, they felt a calm yearning instead of an intense passion. The women were certainly Christians; either they were already followers during Jesus's ministry or they were converted by the apostles.

But not every apostle married. No one can say how many of the apostles were married or how many remained celibate. All I know is that some of them did marry and that some of them did not. It is quite plausible that Mathew led a celibate life because his gospel is the only one with a celibacy teaching. Celibacy appears to have struck a strong and positive note within Mathew for him to record it. John would also quite plausibly have been celibate because there is no mention of a wife going with him into exile at Patmos. Also, John would not have wanted a potential wife or children or descendents to suffer the upcoming apocalypse and tribulations that he foresaw so clearly. Nothing is conclusive because there is not much information. Furthermore, some translations of 1 Corinthians 9:5 refer to taking sisters, not merely wives, with them on their ministry. A sister could be an actual sister or another follower of Jesus. Those translations make determining the exact number of married and celibate apostles a little difficult. Some apostles were married (certainly Peter) and some were celibate (certainly Paul, plausibly Mathew and John).

The ultimate conclusion is that we should not be actively desiring a spouse. When we actively desire a spouse, we are listening to what we want and to what the world wants instead of what God wants for us. If God wants you to marry, then He will give you a husband or wife. If Joseph son of Jacob had actively desired a wife, then he would have married during his several years working for Potiphar; his own wife would have placed a definite wedge between him and Potiphar's wife because then she would have the hassle of competition. Instead, Joseph dedicated himself completely to God and what God wanted. God gave a wife to Joseph during his years working for Pharaoh. There will indeed be people who marry. There will also indeed be people who do not marry. If God does not want you to marry, then your life has not changed. The first and most important love remains the same for the married and the celibate. Mordecai from the Book of Esther and Daniel who authored his own book were celibate men. Mordecai was an intelligent and knowledgeable advisor who helped to save the Jews from being massacred. Daniel was a strong prophet whose powerful visions included the ultimate fate of the Jewish people and of humanity. Both men had dedicated themselves first and foremost to God. God chose celibacy for Mordecai and Daniel, so they satisfied themselves with that. Joseph son of Jacob likewise dedicated himself first and foremost to God, and God provided Joseph with a wife.

Once we dedicate ourselves completely to God and make God our first love, then everything will settle into its proper place and we will discover the entirety of our life's purpose. In order to dedicate ourselves, we must ask "what does God want for us?" and to do God's will in our lives. Regardless of where God places us, we will find purpose and fulfillment in following Him.

Is God your first love, or do you give others priority over Him?

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