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 [1 John 2:15].
What does it mean to not love the world? We are a part of this world and interact with it daily. There are many attractive benefits and pleasures to enjoy. So how am I not to love it?
Now, I’m not referring to the physical earth with its splendor and majestic beauty. I’m talking about the worldly system as the opposing influence against everything God’s Word represents. This world calls for instant gratification; God’s Word says to invest in eternity. Worldly counsel says crave the here and now; God’s Word counsels us to set our affection on heavenly things. This world’s moral standards are ever devolving; God’s Word remains consistent forever. The world seeks to enslave; God’s Word seeks to set us free.
Yes, we are in the world, but we are not of the world [John 15:19]. This world may be our earthly home, but, as Christ-followers, we are citizens of a heavenly home [Philippians 3:20]. Our allegiance is with the world to come. What we see and value here is temporal – of no eternal significance [2 Corinthians 4:18]. We are engineered for eternity, yet so often preoccupied with time [Ecclesiastes 3:11].
So, if I am not to love the world, what should captivate my heart?
In the Song of Solomon, we find a story of a young woman who modeled a captivated heart.
For years, I considered the Song of Solomon a spiritual picture of the love of Christ and His pursuit of His bride, the Church. However, upon studying it further, I see it as the one-sided pursuit by a lustful king of a woman whose heart belonged to another.
I am my beloved’s and he is mine [Song of Solomon 6:3].
Though Solomon, the most powerful king in the world, wooed the young woman, she could not be swayed. He paraded his earthly attractions before her: position, pleasures, possessions, status, societal influence, everything. She could have it all. All she had to do was yield to his desires. Just surrender and enjoy the moment.
But she belonged to another. She was captivated by his love for her and her love for him. Not once did she waver in her loyalty and affection toward her beloved. Never for a moment did she entertain Solomon’s tempting offers or even flirtatiously encourage him. Nor did she pause to fantasize about the benefits Solomon could provide that her beloved couldn’t offer. Her eyes and heart were firmly fixed. Nothing could persuade, tempt, or influence her from her beloved’s desire toward her.
I am my beloved’s and his desire is toward me [Song of Solomon 7:10].
Imagine the effect such relational intensity would have on society today. True love. Loyalty. No betrayals or heartbreak. Inner joy and trust. Safe vulnerability. Emotional health and full expression. Growing together with increasing intimacy. Wow!
Granted, as humans, we make mistakes and disappoint those we love. However, we have the free will to minimize relational distractions, flee temptations, deprioritize competing elements, and break-ups. Of course, we cannot know with absolute certainty that other people won’t disappoint us. But we can commit ourselves to personal loyalty – wholehearted captivation and devotion – in all our relational interactions.
Multi-tasking is one of those things most people value. I, too, pride myself on being able to handle multiple things at once. However, the truth is that quite often, we are only giving partial attention to each objective. We may be able to do many things, but none to 100% effectiveness.
Unfortunately, within families, we take relationships for granted. Parents are often distracted by responsibilities to the neglect of quality time with their children. Siblings are preoccupied with many interests to the detriment of deep bonding and meaningful relations. Other “things” get prioritized over relationships.
And yet, family relationships should be the primary places with no distractions or competing priorities. Strong, nurturing, encouraging love should captivate all hearts.
Understandably, there should be no tempting call from any outside source. No lustful desires elsewhere; no wandering eyes. After all, everyone deserves to be loved fully, deeply, and loyally. This supersedes “falling” in love, learning to love, or being manipulated into love.
Romantic love, infused by God’s love, is captivating, intoxicating, breathtaking. [Proverbs 5:19]. What God joins together, let no man separate [Mark 10:9]. But the secret is in allowing God to do the joining together. Should He intersect the lives of two people who are being who He created them to be, doing what He created them to do, and doing it all according to His purpose where He called them to do it, it is a supernatural love that captivates both hearts.
Relationship with Jesus
When Christ has a person’s heart and is centrally placed as the Beloved, there is no wandering desires, no earthly affections [Colossians 3:2], no entanglements with this present life [2 Timothy 2:4]. He is the Lover of our souls who sacrificed Himself to give us everything. He loves us beyond our comprehension. Above anything and anyone else, He deserves our captivated hearts. It isn’t hard to “love not the world” when the heart belongs to Him.
A truly captivated heart is not discouraged or distracted. “Many waters cannot quench love” [Song of Solomon 8:7]. A truly captivated heart intensely longs for the object of its affection. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God” [Psalm 42:1]. Lastly, if my heart is captivated, nothing this world offers appeals to me as my heart belongs to another person, place, and time. “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” [Galatians 6:14].
Father God, I give myself to You. Captivate my heart. Make it fully and solely Yours. Quench my longings with the satisfaction only You can give. Fill my heart, mind, and eyes with an all-encompassing view of You. Give me singleness of heart in the relationships You give me. And when You sweep me away, may You find me with an undivided heart for You. Amen.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Nate Stevens