What the World Offers
"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."
This passage speaks of the three great temptations. Of course there are many, many more than that, but these are quite common and we see them repeated in the Bible. Look at the chart below to see what I mean:
The world offers us three things:
1. Decoys (desires of the flesh) -Things that look good and we think we want them, but they disappoint as a source of joy. I would put sex outside of God's plan of marriage in this category. Our society hypes it as the thing you need to do to be one of the cool kids and you're just awkward if you don't. Sex outside of committed covenant relationships in marriage is ultimately destructive, like a decoy used to lure an animal into a trap or to death.
2. Lures (desires of the eyes) - Things that are "shiny" and appeal to our eyes, but are dangerous. New technology that we "must" have, pornography...there are so many things in this category. It appeals to us, but can't deliver the joy it promises.
3. Useless prizes (the pride of life) - NLT phrases this one as "pride in our achievements and possessions", which I think makes it much clearer. Just like when you go to an arcade and spend a lot of $$$ to play games for pathetic little useless prizes, so also most of us live our lives. We kill ourselves for good grades, good schools, and good jobs. Why? Money? Bragging rights? A good life? Ultimately we can't take any of it with us. We'll go to the grave naked and posessionless, just as we were born. We spend most of our lives pouring money into the "arcade games" of school and work for the ultimately useless prizes of achievement and money. It's crazy.
This passage makes it clear: you have to make a choice. You can't love God and love the world. This summer at our retreat Pastor Kareem spoke briefly about this and I think it was a great illustration. He said that most of us are trying to live with one foot on a boat and another on the dock. You can't do that for long though - when the boat starts moving, you need to make a choice. Well...the boat is moving. You can't have one foot in the world and one in the Kingdom. You have to make a choice. When you see what the world offers, what kind of choice is it really?
As always, Clive Staples Lewis has a great quote on this very topic that we should always remember:
“Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”