|“Do not love the world or anything in the world.”|
|—1 John 2:15a|
When I was a small boy, while we were not dirt poor, we did live in very modest circumstances. My father worked as a salesman for a hotel and restaurant supply business. He earned his pay on commission and, as anyone who has ever worked on commission knows, some weeks you might make out okay, while other weeks you would barely make “your draw.”
I never realized how little we had until in the summer after third grade one of my classmates invited me to swim with his family at the Valley Hunt Club. I had never seen such “wealth.” I asked my dad why we couldn’t join the Club and he could hardly contain his laughter.
Every November the Sears Christmas catalog would arrive in the mail. I would pour over the wonders contained on that slick, glossy paper. I did so knowing that I would very likely be unable to have even one of those gifts.
One year, I saw a motorized car with a spaceman sitting on top. You could tip his helmet forward and program some switches that would determine the route the car would drive. I knew it was expensive. I knew there was little chance my parents could ever afford such a luxury. Nevertheless, rather sheepishly, I circled the picture and, without saying anything to them about my wish, I secretly hoped that somehow it would appear under the tree. I then promptly put it out of my mind. You see, I had learned not to wish too hard for something.
On Christmas morning, to my utter and great surprise, there was the motorized car in a big box. I eagerly unpacked it, but immediately discovered a major problem. Our house was so small that there was no space large enough to actually operate the vehicle.
Our living room and dining room were tiny and filled with a few pieces of furniture that occupied most of the tiny space. So, on Christmas Day, I could not actually use the toy I had wanted so much. I felt dismayed and very, very ashamed that I had asked for something that was actually quite useless in my circumstances.
Night came and I took the car up to my bedroom, crawled into bed, and hauled the car in with me. It was about 14 inches long, seven inches wide, and ten inches tall. So, it was hardly an appropriate item for a bed. And, it wasn’t at all cuddly like a teddy bear or other stuffed animal might be.
When my mom saw I had taken the car with me to bed, she said, “Dean, that car is too big. You can’t possibly sleep with that.”
I replied, “But, I love it!”
“You can’t ‘love’ a car,” she replied. But, seeing that I wasn’t going to give in, she allowed the car to stay.
I tried to cuddle with the car, but it had sharp edges that poked me in the chest. I tried to lay the car on its side, so I could at least look at the man who sat on top of the car, but it was counter balanced so that it really didn’t want to stay on its side. I finally fell asleep and spent a bit of a restless night. Every time I would turn over, the car would bump into me and wake me from my sleep.
Let’s fast forward 63 years and return to the present.
Think about some “thing” in your life that you love. Would you want to cuddle with it as you fall asleep? Would you sell everything you had to buy the object of your affection? Would you devote yourself—all your time and all your money—to keeping that thing you love in the best possible condition, all the days of your life?
The Apostle John wrote these words, as recorded in 1 John 2:15-16:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
I’ve written in this blog several times about the elegance of the New Testament Greek language that very conveniently has four words for “love” instead of our single English word. None of those four words apply to “things.” They all, every one of them, apply to people and relationships. Perhaps the Greeks in ancient times, at least in some ways, were much smarter than we are today.
The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor in the same way that you love yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)
As we begin another day of life, let us keep in mind that our love needs to be channeled first toward God and secondly toward those who cross the pathway of our lives.
We have every reason to love God because He first loved us. We have every reason to love those who cross the pathway of our lives because God has instructed us to do so.
Need I say more?