Summary: This sermon shows how easily we can lose our first love for God due to other temptations.
Torn Between Two Loves (1 JOHN 2:15-17)
INTRODUCTION - Those who are part of the generation I grew up in would remember the 1977 pop hit 'Torn Between Two Lovers" sung by Mary MacGregor. It spoke about a lady who was attracted to 2 men at the same time. In the lyrics she tells one of them,
'It doesn't mean I love you less' but 'there's just this empty place inside of me that only he can fill'!!!
This raises a question. Can we love 2 things equally at the same time?
Jesus in the passage in 1 John 2:15-17 says, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." It is therefore clear that Jesus is saying that we cannot love God and the world at the same time. In other words, He's saying that our love for one will be greater than the other!!
Today's sermon is titled 'Torn between Two Loves' and on this Valentines' Day week, when 'love is in the air', I would like to highlight the following 3 areas where people could be torn between their love for the Lord and their love for other attractions. None of these things, if handled right, are wrong by themselves, but they have the potential to quench our love for Jesus very quickly. They are,
1) TORN BETWEEN LOVING GOD AND LOVING MONEY (MATTHEW 6:24)
It is a very real fact that money controls the systems of this world. We feel a sense of injustice at how wealth gets distributed, and the control and power it gives people. As such, we may be tempted to place much value on getting more of it; a slice of the pie! Sadly, in the process of getting more, we can often place our desire for money above our desire for the Lord.
Although money in itself may not be evil, the Bible in 1 Timothy 6:9-10, warns us of the temptations that come with riches. It tells us that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil". It really is amazing how easily money can distract our thinking and become an idol that controls us. The more money a person makes, it tends to become so much easier to lower one’s standards, and to strive to get more at any cost!! A quote I came across says,
'Usually, when a man's bank account increases, his soul shrivels'!!
Jesus Himself said, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24). A man of God said it in a different way in the following quote:
'You are not fully surrendered till your cheque book/purse is surrendered’.
Bible Illustration- - In 2 Kings 5: we see how Elisha refused to be tempted with the riches of Aram (vs 15-16), but how Gehazi's greed, surrounded by lies and deception, led to severe judgement upon him & his descendants (vs 22-27). We are also reminded of the example of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-10.
ILLUSTRATION- I remember a Pastor telling me that once when he was about to officiate at a wedding, he noticed a commotion in one of the church rooms. Upon checking as to what the problem was, he found out to his horror that the two wedding parties were having a heated argument over the dowry to be given by the Bride's family!!!
If you are battling between loving God and loving money, I would like to suggest the following actions.
A) Learn to be a giver. It’s a great antidote for greed! Here's a good quote to memorize:
'A love for the right use of money can be the root for much good'!!
B) Learn to live with contentment. (1 Tim 6:8)
So, let’s not allow money to ever become an idol in our lives.
2) TORN BETWEEN LOVING GOD AND LOVING PLEASURE
“People will be…..lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” (2 Tim 3:4)
According to the above verse, the search for extensive pleasure in today's world is actually a fulfillment of a prophetic sign of 'the last days'. James also warns us, "Don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?" (4:4)
We have seen in our generation, how the pleasures of the world have become more corrupt, more vulgar and more brutal than ever before!! This is seen in sports, entertainment, cartoons, movies and almost all areas of pleasure. The question is, is our pursuit of pleasure taking us away from our pursuit of God’s holiness? Away from giving quality time to God and ministry? Are the heroes of ‘Star Wars’ more attractive to our children than the Lord? I remember a poem I once read which asked the question whether our time and attention is given more to the Bible or the TV Guide!!