One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 John 2:15. It is a beautiful verse with a sobering warning. Put simply, we cannot say we love God if we love the things of this world. Every day, this verse is at the forefront of my mind. It is the lens through which I see the world. To my regret, I still fail far too often to heed the warning. I have yet to learn to keep from loving the things of this world.
One upside of how evil this world is becoming is that it is becoming far more difficult to love anything about it! Still, the battle goes on every day in the life of every follower of Jesus. There is no excuse for embracing the things of this world for those of us who claim Jesus as Lord. The choice could not be more clear: we either love Jesus or we love the things of this world.
Understanding The Love of the World
Let’s define our terms. To love the world means materialism and self-centered desires mark our lives. This world offers an endless array of temptations that are both desirable and enjoyable. It is difficult to resist their lure. Understand scripture tells us friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). In other words, to love the world is to hate God. Think about that: when we choose the things of the world, we are demonstrating our hatred for God. If that doesn’t wake you up, I don’t know what will. When we reject God’s laws, we set ourselves up as His enemy (Romans 8:7). That should terrify every one of us.
The Implication of Loving the Father
Loving God requires total devotion. We can’t sort of or sometimes love God. This is a hard teaching because few will devote themselves so completely. That is why not many enter through the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14). To love God is to keep His commands (John 14:23; 2 John 1:6; John 15:10). Jesus teaches that the greatest command is to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). When we love God, we will obey and live according to His commands.
The Distinction Between Worldly and Godly Love
1 John 3:1 and John 17:14-16 emphasize the fact that if we belong to God, then we are not of this world. If God abides in us, the world can find no place in our hearts. The question, then, is how much do we really love God? Do we love Him so much that we will reject all this world has to offer? That is the requirement and litmus test for loving God.
We cannot love the world and love God (1 John 2:15). We cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13). James says to love the world is to commit adultery against God (James 4:4). Love for God leads to eternal life, while love for the things of this world brings at best only temporary pleasure and satisfaction. If we love the world in this life, we will spend eternity separated from God. The choice is ours. We can love God, hate sin, and receive the reward of eternity in His presence. Or we can love the things of this world and suffer God’s wrath and judgment forever. Don’t sacrifice the eternal joy of the Lord for temporary pleasure and gain. If you love the world, you declare your hatred for God. No matter what you win in this world, you will lose it all in the end. Don’t let the Devil deceive you. Jesus is the only way to eternal life (John 14:6), the only true love, and the only true peace. Love God and reject the things of this world.