“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 desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
Just five short months ago, it was quite common to hear people pining for days gone by – perceived better days than the ones we were living in. And yet, in just five short months, now many are simply pining for those days of five months ago!
John begins this text with some jarring words: “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” It is a reminder of where we should NOT place our priorities. Of course we can treasure days of yore, but we must never see them as better days. Better days are always ahead for the believer who is in Christ Jesus. Always! The world and its desires are passing away, but God endures forever.
Love for the world means no love for the Father. How much of our lives are consumed by the very things of which John warns us – satisfying our flesh, desiring things, then puffing ourselves up over what we have? The Beatles famously sang, “All we need is love.” And yet, love is not the answer. The object of our love is. I can love all the wrong things, and find my life adrift in darkness.
No, we must have a love for God that supersedes all other loves. So much so that Jesus tells us, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) We know that the Scriptures implore us to love all of these, so Jesus is saying something else. That is, our love for God must be greater, for all other loves will disappoint.
Thankfully, John doesn’t just leave us trying our best to love God more than anything else. As he expounds on this love, he tells us two remarkable things. First, “See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are.” (1 John 3:1) When I was in high school, Foreigner would sing, “I want to know what love is…” Well, here is the answer. We know what love is because God the Father has loved us in Christ Jesus.
The second thing follows this up. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God…We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:7, 19) If we have experienced this rich, free love of God in Christ Jesus, we cannot help but love. Why? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” (Gal. 5:22-23)
So we abide in Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. As we experience His love for us, our love for Him and for one another grows. And what kind of love is this? In the words of William Gadsby:
The love of God is rich and free;
Fixed on His own eternally;
Nor earth, nor hell, can it remove;
Long as He lives, His own He’ll love.
Love has redeemed His sheep with blood;
And love will bring them safe to God;
Love calls them all from death to life;
And love will finish all their strife.
Love cannot from its post withdraw;
Nor death, nor hell, nor sin, nor law;
Can turn the Surety’s heart away;
He’ll love His own to endless days.
Rest in the deep, deep love of Jesus today, that your love might grow richer and deeper, for God, the great Three in One, and for one another.