Sometimes following God means making hard choices. For instance, choosing to convert to Christianity will get you killed in some parts of the world. Closer to home, choosing to stick by our guns can cost us promotions. It can cost us friends. It can mean we turn down opportunities that others wouldn’t hesitate to accept. But we know there’s a problem. And so we say no. Some of these choices are brutally difficult. God never promised it would be easy to follow Him. In fact, He said the opposite: it would cost us. But what about costing us family?
So in the twentieth year of Jeroboam the king of Israel, Asa began to reign as king of Judah. He reigned forty-one years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Maacah the daughter of Abishalom. Asa did what was right in the sight of the Lord, like David his father. He also put away the male cult prostitutes from the land and removed all the idols which his fathers had made. He also removed Maacah his mother from being queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah; and Asa cut down her horrid image and burned it at the brook Kidron. – 1 Kings 15:9-13, NASB
Asa took over from his father, Abijam. And when he did so, he broke the faithlessness of his father and his grandfather and returned to the ways of David, following after God. He reigned a long time, 41 years. Now I will point out that Asa didn’t end his reign well. He turned from relying on God for solutions and lost opportunities and suffered from a disease of his feet as a result. But during the earlier part of his reign, he was definitely devoted. So devoted, in fact, that he got into a difficult situation due to his grandmother, Maacah, the Queen Mother (mother is used like father such as with “David his father”). She put up an idol devoted to Asherah. As a result, Asa removed her from her position and destroyed her idol. This must have been hard for him to do. Yet his faithfulness before God was clearly demonstrated. He had chosen God over his grandmother.
This is the type of choice we sometimes have to make as followers of Jesus Christ. People we love and care about may be doing the wrong things and they want us to accept them and what they’re doing. We can’t. We are to love them. And loving them means gently telling them the truth. It also may require us to take action, as was the case with Asa. Perhaps those people are ourselves. Just because we’re Christians doesn’t mean we’re immune to sin taking root in our lives. Yes, we have a choice, but we can choose to let that sin get a hold on us. And if it’s sin, it’s doing us harm. It’s separating us from God. Basically, we’re choosing that sin and ourselves over God. And at some point, when we come to the realization of what we’re doing, we’ve got to make that hard choice. If we truly love God, we’ll leave that sin behind. But in my experience, dealing with my own sin is usually a lot easier than dealing with someone else’s sin if that someone is a person who is really close to me. Close like Asa and Maacah close. But who are we closest to? Who do we love more? That person or our Savior, Jesus Christ?
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. – Luke 14:26, NASB
We see the reminder of the cost in the New Testament as well. Christ was pointing out that our love for Him was to surpass our love for our family, even our love for our own lives. And our love for Him compared to our love for them should make it look like we hate them. Certainly He’s deserving of that love. But when it comes to putting that kind of love into practice by choosing Him over those other folks we love, it’s still difficult to do. Yet do so we must. If we love Christ most of all, it’s the only choice we can make. It is the choice Asa made because God was first in his life. We can look to his example as an encouragement when we face a similar situation. It’ll hurt, but Christ is #1.