Why Shouldn’t We Love the World?

As a parent, one of the things you so badly want is for your kids to say their first word, then their first phrase, then their first sentence. Not only are those developmental milestones, but in one sense it makes life easier. If they are hungry, cold, sick, or tired, they can actually tell you instead of crying until you happen to figure out which one it is by trial error.

But in another sense, it can make life more difficult. I know I’m constantly getting onto my oldest son for picking on his brother. In fact, I had to stop writing this paragraph in order to talk with him about something he said to his younger brother.

Playing referee is not the only thing that makes life more difficult. As your kids’ progress in their understanding and speech, you get the inevitable “why” question. I’m not saying that asking why is always disrespectful or even a bad thing, it’s what helps us learn and grow in our knowledge and understanding of the world around us. While that’s true, it does make our lives more difficult because it means we have to give an answer for almost everything that happens. A lot of time, I just don’t have the answer, or at least I don’t have the answer to the fifth “why” in a row. It either doesn’t exist, or my knowledge of the subject has been exhausted.

Even though I don’t always have the answer, I try to provide what I can because knowing why is often the difference between doing or not doing something. At least that’s the case in my life. Take algebra for instance. I think not knowing why I needed algebra as an adult was one of the reasons I didn’t apply myself to the subject in high school.

Knowing why is a motivating factor in our lives. I know this, you know this, God knows this, and the writers of Scripture know this, which is why the Bible often tells us why we should or shouldn’t do something. That’s exactly what John is doing for us in today’s passage. He tells us why we shouldn’t love the world.

Why shouldn’t we love the world?

In verse 15 of 1 John chapter 2 we read,

“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.” (1 Jn 2:15)

The first part of the verse represents the command. We are to take this command seriously because God, our Creator, Sustainer, and Lord is telling us not to do something through His inspired and inerrant Word.

Not only are we given a command, but we are also given a reason why we shouldn’t love the world.

I know you have probably seen those license plates or stickers that say: House Divided. Underneath that tag line you typically see the mascots of two rival football teams. In the South, where I grew up, the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators were big rivals. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see people driving around with one of those license plates on their car.

While that tag definitely represented a division, it wasn’t so strong of a division, at least in some families, that they couldn’t marry one another, live in the same house, or raise kids together. Sure, their hearts might be divided when it comes to football. And that division might even lead them to give each other a hard time when those two teams play each other. But that doesn’t mean they can’t love and care for one another.

That, however, is not the case when it comes to our love for God and the world. We can’t slap a tag on our car in fun that says Love Divided — God and World. Either God holds our heart in His hands or the world does. If we love the world, the love of the Father can’t be in us. So we shouldn’t love the world because it means we have divided hearts. As followers of Jesus, our hearts shouldn’t be divided. Instead, they should be fully given to Jesus and the things of God over the things of the world.

Question for Reflection

  1. Is your heart divided?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon Why shouldn’t we love the world?

What is the Type of Love that Lasts?

When most people think of love, they think of a feeling they get from another person. Think of the way a character in the last romantic comedy you watched described their love for another. Most likely they said something like, “I know it’s crazy but it just feels right.” Or maybe they expressed it by saying “I can’t explain it, but I know I am in love with them.” Or maybe, just maybe they used the often quoted line, “You complete me”. While that stuff makes for good movies, the love pictured by those characters is what we call romantic or erotic love. While romantic or erotic love is not necessarily wrong, we all want a little romance in our lives, building our relationship on romantic or erotic love doesn’t usually make for a marriage that lasts the ages.

Romantic or Erotic Loves Focus

Generally speaking, romantic or erotic love is more concerned with how we benefit from a relationship than the benefits of another. Romantic or erotic love, then, is not other-focused but self-focused. When someone expresses love from a romantic or erotic perspective, what they are really saying is either that that person makes me feel good sexually or personally, or they believe that person is the best partner to help them fulfill their financial or personal goals. But will that type of love last?

Will it Last?

Even with the advent of plastic surgery, gym memberships, and magic creams looks fade. Personal and financial goals can change or go unmet. When change happens, or needs go unmet, feelings usually follow suit and change as well. If your relationship is built strictly on feelings, what are you going to do when your feelings change? Are you going to stick it out or move on? I believe our current divorce rate answers that question for us. Over half of all marriages now end in divorce. Could it be that many of those were built on romantic or erotic love?

The Love that Lasts

The love that lasts is the love Paul speaks of in Colossians 3 when he says,

“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” (Col 3:19)

The love Paul calls husbands to have for their wives isn’t romantic or erotic love, but agape love. Paul’s command doesn’t necessarily negate romantic love. In other words, a little romance isn’t a bad thing, it just shouldn’t be the primary thing. So husbands don’t use this as an excuse to quit dating or romancing your wife.

Do, however, realize that the love Paul is talking about is much deeper than surface level attraction or romantic gestures meant to conjure up certain feelings. The love mentioned in Colossians 3 is a bedrock or foundational type of love. It is agape love. Agape love is a self-sacrificial love. It is a love that gives rather than takes. It is a love that seeks what is best for the other person rather than what’s best for self. That is the type of love a husband is to have for his wife. It is the type love that sticks around when needs go unmet and feelings change. It is the type of love that lasts.

Question for Reflection

  1. What is the love that is primarily active in your current relationship? Is it me-centered or other-centered?

Resources

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Adapted from my sermon A Wife’s Submission and a Husband’s Love

Let Love Lead You

Knowledge is power, and it helps us excel in life. Even so, it can be a hindrance, especially in our church community.

How can knowledge be a hindrance?

Knowledge is a hindrance when we allow it alone to guide us. We see an example of this in 1 Corinthians. There were some in the church who had come to believe that:

an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1 Co 8:4b–6)

For their understanding, we would praise God because what they believe is correct.

Where they went wrong, however, is in how they applied their knowledge. Since gods and idols are nothing, they concluded it was ok to attend meals thrown in pagan temples by their pagan friends, and even to eat the meat sacrificed to idols.

While their belief may be true, others in the church weren’t there yet. When they saw other brothers and sisters in the church participating in these activities, they were led to believe it was ok to combine these practices with their Christian faith, which resulted in their faith being destroyed (1 Cor. 8:11).

How should we use our knowledge?

(1) Love must lead us

As Paul begins chapter 8, at the end of verse 1 he says,

This knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor. 8:1b).

Paul’s statement tells us love must lead us. Love should lead us because it has others best interest in mind. Unlike Knowledge, which often serve to puff us up, love is willing to sacrifice for another. Love is willing to give of our rights, desires, and freedom for the sake of another.

When we think about it, giving up our rights, desires, and freedoms is not our natural tendency. Naturally, we hold those things close because we are selfish. The only way we are going to love in a way that allows us to joyfully give up our rights, freedom, and desires at times for another is if we have experienced love like that ourselves.

I believe we experience that type of love in the gospel. The Father loved us so much that He gave of His only Son, Jesus. The Son, Jesus, loved us so much that He was willing to give of His life for us. He hung on a cross dying in our place, while the Father poured the wrath we deserve out on Him. Hanging there, receiving God’s wrath, Jesus gave up His rights, desires, freedom, and life for us. He gave of Himself to repair our relationship with the Father, so that we might have eternal life.

Experiencing the love and benefit of Christ’s sacrifice should motivate us to sacrifice for another. As Christians’, God’s love then should channel through us to others.

Love, true love, not the love pictured in movies or shows, should be what leads us. Love should lead us alongside our knowledge because love focuses on others, while knowledge by itself often focuses on us and our rights.

(2) At times, our rights must be sacrificed

While Paul agrees with the Corinthians that eating food offered to an idol is a matter of indifference, he also tells us that we are to use our “rights” in a way that does not cause another to stumble.

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” (1 Cor. 8:9)

It might be our freedom to do something, but if our actions are harming another person’s faith instead of building them up, we must be willing to give that thing up. That’s what love does.

Whereas, knowledge looks at a situation and says: I have the freedom and right to do that. Love looks at a situation and asks: will my right harm another? Where we determine our actions could harm another’s faith; where it would tear them down instead of build them up, we don’t do it.

For instance, we live in a technologically savvy world. Facebook has become a normal part of our lives. One of the great things about Facebook, and social media in general, is the connections we can make with others.

Whereas in the past, we might have only been able to connect with and keep up with a small group of people in our own community, through Facebook we can connect with people halfway around the world and keep up with friends from our past.

With those connections comes influence. Influence like we have never had before. Through my posts I can influence the way people think not only in my immediate community, but also in my global community.

With influence comes responsibility.

As a member of Facebook, I have the freedom and right, to post almost anything, but as a Christian, that doesn’t mean I should. Instead, my first thought before posting something should be: How will this be perceived by another?

  • Will it be positive and build them up in their faith?
  • Will it tear them down in their faith?
  • Will it lead them to think or act in a way that is contrary to God’s Word?
  • Will it lead them into excess?

After answering those questions, we may conclude that our post is not beneficial. At that point, we have a decision to make. Will we give up our right to post what we were going to for the sake of another? Or will we go through with it because it is our right to do so? Paul tells us at times we must be willing to give up our rights for the sake of another.

(3) There is a difference between leading others into sin and leading others into the truth

I don’t want you to get the impression that we should never challenge another person. We should challenge other people to think and act differently, especially when we are challenging them to think and act in a more biblical way.

There is a distinction between leading others into sin and leading others into the truth. If we have knowledge that someone else doesn’t have, we may temper our actions, some of the things we post, or say in a public forum, if we know our actions would hinder their faith. That, however, doesn’t mean we don’t teach them what God’s Word says in another setting.

While our actions could lead another into sin. Dialoguing with them and teaching on a particular subject, where we can explain ourselves and expose them to Scripture can lead them into the truth.

Teaching, challenging, and dialoguing is something we should do. It is an area in which we shouldn’t hold back because our desire isn’t to make good, neat legalists, but gospel-centered followers of Jesus.

So there is a difference between leading others into sin and leading them into the truth. One we should do and one we shouldn’t do.

Conclusion

Love then should lead us. It should lead us because love will do what is best for others, whereas knowledge will more often do what is best for us.

Question for Reflection

  1. What are you allowing to lead you: Knowledge? Or love alongside your knowledge?

Resources

Post adapted from the sermon: Let Love Lead Youwhich you can listen to here. Image