1 John 2:15-17 15 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. 16 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. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

One of the first Bible verses I memorized as a Christian was the one above. But it was not until much later that I understood its profound truth. That is, what matters most in this world is what we love.

The implication of verse 15 is that, we do the things we do out of love. We might believe something, and be able to say so in Sunday School, but below that thinking, we are lovers. And we do what we love. And then after the fact, we justify it. That sort of thing started in the Garden, and we’ve been doing it ever since. It’s the family business.

To put it another way: if you want to get rid of bad behavior, the need is to get rid of the love that drives that behavior. And the way we do that is by getting a bigger, better love. That bigger, better love, as it grows, will then push out the old love.

It goes even deeper. If we love the world, then that means that the Father’s love is not in us. That’s saying something about our fundamental character. We ARE what we LOVE. If we love God, the love of GOD fills us, and we will then pursue the things that He loves. We will then BE like God. We are what we love.

But then 17 puts another perspective on what we love. If we love the world, we are loving something that is quickly fading. 10,000 years from now, it will matter not whether I got that next promotion, or whether I had a better yard than my neighbor. But it will matter greatly whether I loved God, and therefore loved what He loves – like showing honor to my wife, or risking dishonor to myself to share the gospel, or risked having less in material possessions in order to help the poor.

We are what we love. And what we love has deep ramifications, for our character, and for eternity.