1 John 2:15-17
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.…
Is it true, then, that religion requires us to sacrifice every natural affection? If it is, then comply with it. If religion is such a thing, then Simeon Stylites, on his pillar top, was a pattern saint. But if this is not the ideal of religion, let us find out what the true ideal is. If there is a love of natural things perfectly consistent with and flowing out from the love of God, let us know it and act accordingly. Now what is the doctrine in the text? When we consider it in its connection we find it is not a mere statement of negations. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." It does not stop with this. Why not love these? Because we are called to cherish a higher and more comprehensive affection. We are to love the Father supremely. There are some who try to preserve a sort of balance between the two — between the spirit that makes this world supreme, which of course dissolves all moral distinction between right and wrong; and the spirit that makes God supreme, which claims as right the love of right only. It is like compromising with a cancer, or holding negotiations with the yellow fever. There are only two standards that which proceeds from the love of God as supreme; that which proceeds from the love of the world as supreme. You cannot serve them both. The whole statement of the text rests upon the simple fact that every man has a master motive in his heart, which he more or less consciously acts upon. There is one general ground from which a man measures. Here, for instance, is a man that measures from the love of the world, from the summit of worldly advantage. If you want to explain his life you do it in this way: he starts with worldly sanctions and worldly interests, and thus sometimes measures up to spiritual claims and moral laws. So you see men in every avocation of life, from the most private to the most public transactions, willing enough to confess the right, but after all holding it subordinate to the ground from which they measure — worldly advantage. Now a thing is either right or it is wrong. If we measure from God's supreme law, the love of the Father, we must bring everything else down before that; if we measure from worldly advantage, we must bring God's law down before that. Love not the world, is the principle. What the apostle means by loving the world and the things of the world, is loving them supremely and making them a standard; measuring from the ground of worldly sanction and interest up to the supreme right. No, we are to measure from the love of the Father downward — not from the love of worldly advantage and sanction upward. That is the real meaning of the text. Loving the Father supremely, we shall know what to love as He loves, and we shall see everything in the relation in which He sees it. From His all-comprehending affection we shall go forth to see everything truly and to love everything as we ought to love it. Every daily duty, every daily care, every common interest — your homes, your toils, your trials, will all be loved by you in due proportion, because you will read in them the Father's meaning and you will see them in their true relations and significance. And still again, when we start from this ground of love We learn to distinguish the essence of things from the outside of things. When, for instance, a man becomes so enamoured of nature that he forgets the God who made it; when he touches not the pulses of the infinite in the motions of the worlds, but all is a dead blank and all traces of God have vanished, then man has that love of the world and of the things that are in it which is condemned by the apostle. So, too, a man may love humanity simply on its outside — for its advantage to him — merely for that which is pleasing to him, not in its essence. Jesus Christ did not look at the outside of men. He looked into humanity as an emanation from God. He saw it in its priceless worth, and died for it — not for its relations to him of friendliness, or kindness, or love, or service, or beauty, or use, but for its intrinsic worth. That is the way to love humanity. Not because it serves us, not because it is pleasant to us, not because it is friendly to us. That is a very little thing. How sour men get by and by who love it on that account! The true Christian never falters in his high faith in and deep love for humanity, because he sees it and loves it as Jesus Christ did — not with reference to himself but for its intrinsic character and value in the eyes of God.
(E. H. Chapin, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.