Recently, I preached a message from Second Timothy about the danger of having “self” on the throne of your heart instead of God. As I studied for my sermon and preached it, God spoke some tremendous words of encouragement and warning into my own heart. Here are three loves all people should avoid.
First, we are to avoid the love of self. This is called narcissism, and a narcissistic person has the desire “to be.” The way Christians combat the love of self is with a denial of self. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” The antidote for narcissism is humility, which leads to a true love for God and others. Jesus said that the two greatest commands are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.”
Second, we are to avoid the love of things. This is called materialism and a materialistic person has the desire “to have.” The way Christians combat the love of things is with the giving of self. Jesus said, “What good does it do a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul?” He was in essence saying, “You find your life as you give it away.” Narcissism and materialism often go hand in hand. When self is in the throne of the heart, a desire for things naturally follows. The antidote for materialism is generosity, which leads to a detachment from the things of this world and a proper focus on the eternal.
Finally, we are to avoid the love of pleasure. This is called hedonism, and a hedonistic person has the desire “to feel.” The hedonist says, “If it feels good, do it.” This is a dangerous way to live. A Christian does not seek pleasure, rather, they seek God, who is the source and supply of true pleasure. The way Christians combat the love of pleasure is with the control of self. As the writer of Proverbs said, “Guard your heart, for from it flows the issues of life.” The antidote for hedonism is integrity, which leads to a life of self-control and self-discipline.
In our day and age, the world is full of narcissistic, materialistic, and hedonistic people. What is needed are humble, generous people, who seek God and live lives of integrity. This week, do not let anything replace love for God in your heart. Crush the love of self, things, and pleasure by putting Christ and a genuine love for Him at the center of your heart. See you next week!