A Hard Text

For over twenty years Isabella Alden and her husband edited a children’s magazine called The Pansy. While their names were credited on the magazine’s cover, the entire endeavor was a family affair.

Cover of the December 1891 issue of The Pansy magazine.

Isabella’s son Raymond regularly contributed poems, short stories, and science-related articles.

Her sister Marcia wrote “Baby’s Corner,” a monthly column for the magazine’s youngest readers.

Marcia’s husband, the Reverend Charles M. Livingston, contributed stories, anecdotes, and news items.

Charles Livingston (from the Livingston Family Album, courtesy GraceLivingstonHill.com)

Rev. Livingston had a talent for explaining the Bible’s most challenging verses in terms young people could understand. He told young readers:

When one thing in one part of the Bible seems to conflict with another part or say something which seems to be wrong, you are to conclude that a little better understanding will set it all to rights in your mind.

In 1888 Rev. Livingston wrote a brief article for The Pansy magazine about a certain Bible verse that young people—and adults—often found very confusing!

Here’s what he wrote:

A Hard Text?

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

A hard text? Some readers think it is. But suppose it read this way:

“If any man come to me and love not his family less than me … he cannot be my disciple.”

The other way is simply a strong way of saying this idea, that Christ must always be FIRST to His child. He must have our supreme love, and nothing must stand in the way. Do you get the idea?

Of course it does not teach one to hate anybody, much less a dear father, mother, brother, sister.

You know this same Jesus who spoke Luke 14:26 also said:

“Love,” even one’s enemies, and “Honor thy father and mother.”

Jesus cannot contradict Himself.

Readers of The Pansy enjoyed Rev. Livingston’s lesson so much, he wrote several more installments, and “The Hard Text” became a regular recurring column in The Pansy magazine!

Would you like to see more “The Hard Text” columns by Rev. Livingston?

What do you think? Did Rev. Livingston do a good job of explaining the meaning of this particular Bible verse?

11 thoughts on “A Hard Text

  1. The word “hate” in the original text means “to love less” not “to hate” as was translated.

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