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.…
I speak to you, not as hermits, but as men of the world, occupied constantly in honourable vocations, and yet conscious that there is a life above this world — an eternal, spiritual, divine life. Will you suffer me to put before you two or three suggestions which may enable us, while living in this world, yet to rise above it?
1. And the first suggestion I would make is, that it would be well for him who desires the spiritual life to adopt some definite, constant action of self-denial. It may be abstinence from alcoholic drink, from theatres and balls — things perfectly right and legitimate in themselves; it may be even so small a thing as early rising in the morning, or it may be some pecuniary generosity; but whatever it is, if it be adopted as a definite self-denial, as a definite self-consecration of the man to God, it will undoubtedly have a purifying and elevating influence.
2. My second suggestion is this, that every one of us who desires to live the spiritual life should ask himself the question, In what respect does my ordinary life, my professional, my regular routine of existence, tend to draw me from God, tend to deaden the spiritual activities and faculties? and then that he should set himself to encourage a practice which will limit this tendency. For, according to the familiar illustration of the philosopher Aristotle, if a stick is bent in one direction, and you want to straighten it, you must bend it violently in the opposite direction. Suppose, for example, as is quite likely, that one is engaged in the business of commerce, it is his object to make money, and this is legitimate in itself; yet, if he be spiritually minded, he will not be blind to the fact that the occupation of making money does tend to set the soul upon earthly, and not upon heavenly things. In order to remedy this tendency he will encourage in himself a definite, systematic practice of generosity; he will aim at using his money, not as an owner, but as a trustee, so that by means of it he may make the world better, he may increase the happiness and joy of those less fortunate than himself.
3. Let me take a third instance to show the duty and beauty of this spiritual life. It is easy to get into the state in which the very being of God Himself becomes a doubt and a difficulty, and yet it is vital to avoid that state altogether and always. Is it not the case in public life that there are dangers which threaten the well-being of the spiritual nature — I mean the love of victory for instance, which is not the love of truth? The voice of the people is not the voice of God, it tends now-a-days to drown the voice of God. What can be the effect of the malice and uncharitableness which men display so often towards one another, but to make God seem distant, and as if He had no relation to the human soul? Anyone then who in the noble field of public life is anxious not to let his spirituality die out will be careful at times to retire into solitude to commune with his Maker and with his own soul, and he will cry out, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Such a man will try always to live as in the sight of God.
(J. E. Welldon, 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.