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"I do not believe that an attachment ever is, or can be, absolutely too strong for our affections; but our love to God may not be strong enough." -Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
I recently finished reading Life and Letters of "Stonewall" Jackson, written by his wife years after his death. It was a fascinating read, covering the great man's entire life- from childhood difficulties and being orphaned young, to his days as a cadet at West Point, to battlefield glories, and finally his tragic end.
Most of all I was impressed by his godliness. Thomas Jackson was highly committed to everything he interpreted as his duty. He prayed quite literally without ceasing, was an earnest evangelist, served faithfully as a deacon in his local church, and was a most devoted and doting family man. Christianity in our day hardly knows his caliber.
One of his oft repeated ideas in the book was that we simply cannot love people too much... so long as we love God more. The problem with our affections comes when they are out of proportion.
I freely admit that my strong affection for my children especially can get out of proportion. At times I've pushed too hard to make them happy, sacrificing exact submission to my husband, faithfulness in disciplining or admonishing, and bending rules for them. When my "love" for my children compromises my obedience to God and His Word, it is idolatry.
Idolatrous love isn't really love at all. If I really love my children, I will strive to display for them a greater obedience to God, without regard to their temporal satisfaction. I will be diligent to point them to Christ first, laboring more for their eternal happiness than their temporal happiness.
If I truly love God more than my family, than my family will only experience more real and true love from me as a result.
Taking an in depth look at General Jackson's life has challenged me to strive after knowing and loving Christ all the more earnestly- that's a sign of a great biography. I long to love Him so much that there remains no question in the minds of others (including my children) where my first loyalty lies. This calls for a greater commitment to studying and meditating on His Word, more regular and fervent prayer, and a change in my heart that can only be managed by His great grace.
I will be asking Him for more of such grace this week- for both me and you. May we ever endeavor to love God more greatly, and then to love others as well as we can. We can never love others too much, so long as our love to God is greater.