Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. – 1 John 2:15-17
I’ve noticed that, in the Old Testament, God promises material abundance and gain in return for obedience. In the New Testament, however, the reward shifts. What we are offered is an intangible, but eternal spiritual reward.
And so it makes sense to me that what trips us up is also intangible.
In the Old Testament people defied the law of God by burning incense to strange Gods and crafting idols, by acting or failing to act as He had commanded them.
Those kind of sins can still be found. But there is a lot of the kind of stuff John is cautioning against as well. Lots of loving the world and our material possessions. Lots of craving pleasure and worshipping possessions. And definitely no shortage of pride in our own worldly success.
To me everything is from God so when John says, “these are not from God” I don’t think he‘s talking about what we have been given. I think he’s talking about our desires and pride. It is our attachments, our emotions, and our thoughts that are the problem. Intangible sins perhaps, at least in the beginning, but serious nonetheless.
Because when our heads and hearts are filled up with ourselves there isn’t room for God.
In the New Age we are told to glorify ourselves. As a Christian, however, I understand that there is a line between serving others through our work and worldly recognition and reward. But sometimes my focus strays across that line without me even realizing it. When that happens I have to deliberately refocus on what serves God.
It serves God if I serve others. And the only way that is really sustainable is if I remember that He is the source of any abilities I may have. Which means that, by extension, He owns the rights to everything I do. And this IS how I want it. I want God to work through me. I want him to own it all.
So why do I cross the line? Why do I sometimes puff myself up and congratulate myself on what “I” have done?
Because of my own character flaws which are, as opposed to my abilities, pretty much mine.
These are the things that John points to when he says, “these are not from the Father, but are from this world.” And they are so very of the world. I mean really literally of the world because this is where we learn them. It is the world that teaches us to feel better about ourselves when we are recognized for “our” achievements. It is the world that tells us that more stuff will fill us up.
But the Bible tells us that all glory is His. It tells us that earthly treasures holds us hostage. It tells us that our highest calling is to allow God to work through us. And it tells us that this world and everything of it, is fading.
For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining. – John 2:8
Heavenly Father. Thank you for all you have given me. Thank you for my family. Thank you for my earthly possessions. Thank you for my talents and abilities. Please help me to remember that all of these things come to me through you. Please help me to always give credit where it is due. Sanctify me and remove from me those traits that cause me to glorify myself. Please help me to glorify you and see your hand in all that is good. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen