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What Does the Bible Mean When It Says Not to Love the World?

“It means to love God more than your puppies,” says Tori, 7.

“It means you’re not supposed to love money or toys,” says Tyler, 10. “Instead, God wants you to love him. He doesn’t mean that you can never go out and play. It just means not to play all the time.”

I don’t know where people get the idea that God is against play. If you were the only human on Earth, you would know from watching animals that whoever created them intended for his creatures to play.

Puppies, kittens and even lion cubs all testify to the joy God must experience from seeing his creatures engage in healthy play. Just because some people can’t imagine a spiritual Christian as anything but a killjoy doesn’t mean joyful saints don’t exist. Jesus himself challenged religious stereotypes by eating and drinking with sinners. By the way, he drank wine.

According to the way some Christians define “worldliness,” Jesus wouldn’t make the cut. He not only drank wine; he made gallons of it at a wedding feast. Am I trying to get you to drink wine? No.

If you’re an alcoholic or you have a history of alcohol abuse, don’t even sniff a cork. Alcohol abuse continues to destroy many lives and families. But don’t define loving the world by something so superficial as having a glass of wine. It’s much deeper than that.

“It means that the world is not love. God is,” says Daniel, 6. The Apostle John says, “God is love.” He also writes: “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” (I John 2:15).

When the Apostle speaks of the “world,” he isn’t referring to the physical sphere we call Earth. Rather, it’s a system of thought, motivation and ideas. “Love” should define Christians in their relationship with God and each other. “Lust” characterizes people imbued with the spirit of the world and the demonic forces that shape it.

“The Apostle John means loving and living for God is more important than being rich or famous. Worshiping God should be the most important thing in our lives,” says Anissa, 7.

The Apostle names three lusts that govern the world, and Anissa refers to two of them. Putting riches before God is the lust of eyes, which is materialism or coveting. A desire to be famous is the pride of life. The third, lust of the flesh, refers to sinful sensual pleasure. God created sensual pleasure to be enjoyed by a man and a woman within the confines of marriage, but sex outside marriage is driven by lust, not love.

“I think you need to worry about God and not worry about having the biggest house, the fanciest car or the most toys,” says Kaele, 8.

Christians are called to live by another life — the life of Christ within them. When the Lord Jesus controls a Christian, his grace and love draw some people and repel others. Lust-motivated people often perceive love-motivated people as a threat to the status quo.

In summary, Marshall, 12, says, “If we love the things on Earth, we cannot concentrate on God. You can’t serve two masters.”

Think about this: The Holy Spirit and the spirit of this world are contending for control of your life (I Corinthians 2:12).

Memorize this truth: “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” (I John 2:15).

Ask this question: Is the spirit of the world or God’s Spirit in control of your life?

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The Kids Talk About God website contains free, online content for children and families. See the Kid TV Interviews. Print free lessons from the “Kids Color Me Bible” and make your own book. Let a 12-year-old boy take you on a missionary safari through the Mission Explorers Kenya for Kids documentary with curriculum. Print Scripture verses illustrated by child artists. Receive a complimentary, weekly e-mail subscription to our Devotional Bible Lessons.

Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

Copyright 2006 Carey Kinsolving

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