July 10 & 17, 2011
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15,16).
A very basic decision has to be made: will we love the world or will we love God our Father? “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” the apostle John wrote. The things in the world that tempt us are to be decisively rejected. And we must reject them not only because many of them are inherently wrong but also because they tend to take over our hearts. The world is not content to share our affection with God; if given a chance it will displace God as our first love. “The whole effort – the object – of temptation is to induce us to substitute something else for God, to obscure God” (R. H. Stewart). Ultimately, we face a choice between worshiping the Creator or worshiping the things that have been created (Romans 1:25).
It has been said that our response to temptation is a barometer of our love for God, and there is an element of truth in this. The person who deeply loves God may certainly fall to temptation in an unguarded moment, but generally speaking, our love for God will move us to say an emphatic no to the enticements of sin. If we find ourselves unable to say no, it is probably because the yes that we ought to be saying to our Lord does not burn very brightly within us. Thus the best way to diminish the love of the world is not merely to strengthen our will power but to do all those things that we know will increase our love for God.
It is foolhardy, to say the least, to hold on to our love for the world while we try to love God. If we think that the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” will not hinder our movement toward God, we are seriously underestimating the pull that these things have on us. None of us is strong enough to serve two masters, and the person who tries to do so is writing a recipe for disaster. “But he who has taken his stand, who has drawn a boundary‑line sharp and deep about his religious life, who has marked off all beyond as forever forbidden ground to him, finds the yoke easy and the burden light. For this forbidden environment comes to be as if it were not” (Henry Drummond).
“Straw should make no pact with fire” (Russian Proverb).