To Love the World is to Love the Devil
This is Day 5 of my 40 day Lenten Blog.
"The devil took Jesus to the top of a high mountain and showed him all of the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 'I will give all of this to you,' the devil said, 'if you will bow down and worship me.'" Matthew 4:8-9.
Do you want the world? Do you want all of the splendor that comes with the world--the money, the fame, the glory, the success? Do you want to be esteemed in the eyes of men? Then you must bow down and worship the devil.
You cannot worship God and worship the world. You cannot desire the praise of men and the praise of God. You cannot have two masters.
This is arguably the hardest teaching in the Bible. I find it nearly impossible not to care what people think of me and to only care about how I look in the eyes of God. I find it nearly impossible to not seek worldly success. I am often tempted by the splendor of the world.
This is the lure of pride. Pride is damning as I wrote about here and here. As Father Cajetan Mary da Bergamo wrote in his excellent book Humility of Heart, we seek the virtues of patience and chastity, but we rarely seek the virtue of humility.
Oh, we might claim to seek humility, and pray, "Oh, Lord give me a humble heart!" But that's quickly followed with, "And also please let my Noles win on Saturday, because if they lose, my pride will be badly bruised." Or, "let me get that promotion or make that sale so that I will be esteemed in the eyes of my co-workers and can afford to buy a sports car." Or, "let me get lots of likes on Facebook so that I know everyone thinks my post was AWESOME!" Or, "let other people think I'm beautiful and cool." Or, "let me win lottery," or "let me win the basketball game," or, "let me have every worldly thing I ever desire!!!!"
To have the world is to abandon God. To have the world is to worship myself. In other words, to have the world, to receive its splendor, is to bow down and worship the devil. For the devil is the prince of this world and if I desire it, what I am really saying is I desire him. To love the world is to love the devil.
Thus, the only way I can truly love God, belong to God, and submit to God, is to reject the world. I must reject the baubles that this world holds out as priceless possessions. I must care not for the esteem of men. I must realize that God is everything, and everything else is nothing. Nothing!
If you believe this to be impossible, it is not. But it will take God's grace and likely some pain to accomplish. I am not sure how much pain, because I am nowhere close to achieving it yet. But it is a goal I strive for. Sometimes I take a step forward...sometimes I take two steps back. But to have the Lord--the greatest of all treasures--is worth trying. By His grace, perhaps I shall succeed one day!