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 pride of life—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
It’s a fight for our affections. That’s something that I told one of my students this past year, as he was struggling with some things, including lust and the desires of his past life. He said, “Affections? I think it’s stronger than that.” Then I explained that Jonathan Edwards once said that it’s our heart’s affections that control our decisions and our actions.
I believe this is what John is speaking about in these three verses. It’s not that we aren’t allowed or advised to enjoy God’s creation. But it is something else entirely when it takes control of our heart’s affection. It is no longer us choosing it to enjoy something the LORD has given and being truly grateful, but rather, it controls us to a point where we cannot but choose it over everything else—family, friends, and God. John doesn’t mince any words, he identifies it straight away: the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and pride of life. These things are NOT from the Father, but from the world.
And the path to such worldly desires taking hold in us is in slight degrees. We give in to it once, then tell ourselves, once won’t hurt us. One degree. But inevitably, one degree at a time, when we give in to such things, we continue to redefine the standard of God’s holiness—which is not ours to define. It’s been defined for us and modeled perfectly in our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, how should we live? John tells us: DON’T GIVE AWAY YOUR LOVE to the things in the world. But rather, LOVE DOING THE WILL OF GOD. It's a great perspective. Don’t give away, don’t relinquish your heart’s affection to anything that is temporary and that which will not last. As you join the Christian Union community in fasting this August, fast with us not to merely fast. Fast with us because focusing our heart’s affection through fasting is the will of the Father. Take back the degree! The fight is on.
Father, as I look around in my room, my house, on my phone, at my circle of friends, my school, and the degrees to which I work for, or may have worked for, I confess to You that there are things of this world that have captured my heart’s affection a bit more than I should have allowed. I admit to You that I have looked to some of these things to define my identity and my worth. I’ve allowed the lust of my heart to hold me captive because I find them beautiful or they define beauty for me. Forgive me, LORD, for I have sinned and forgotten my first true love—Jesus, my LORD and Savior. Help me, God, to rid my heart of worldly desires as I remember the beauty of Your love and sacrifice for me. You are more than enough for me! To You be the glory forever and ever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Ministry Director, Christian Union Gloria Law (Harvard Law School)
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