1 John 2:15,16 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.
Whenever I read this passage, I put myself in the shoes of the young man whom Jesus asked to sell all his possessions and give to the poor (Matthew 19:21). That young man went away sad because though he wanted God, he loved his stuff more. His god was his stuff. I worry that if Jesus said the same to me, that I might walk away sad as well.
Jesus’ point to the young man was the same as John’s here. I cannot love the stuff of the world and love God equally. One or the other will rule in my life. The two cannot share first place in my mind. That which I will not give up is the thing I love the most and that thing becomes my god. If that thing is money, stuff, desires of the flesh or my pride, then the love of the father is not in me.
So how do I know? How do I know if I love stuff more than God? Jesus has not yet asked me to give away everything I own, so I can still tell myself that I would do it if he did. I can still insist that I love God above all because I have never had to actually sell everything.
For me, it is in how I hold my things and how I use them. Do I use my job as an opportunity to love others and share Christ’s love with them? Or is my job just a paycheck so I can buy more stuff. Do I use my stuff for the kingdom or do I just entertain myself. I have to admit that I have justified stuff by insisting that I would use it for God. God probably wants me to have this boat so I can minister to those who don’t have a boat…
Like everything else, I have to keep working at this. Stuff has a way of growing on me so that I have to keep working to hold it loosely. I daily have to turn my gaze from the desires of the eyes and pride of life. I do not want stuff to be my god. I want God to be my God, so I will daily turn my gaze to him. The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (2:17).