What Is It to Love the World?
I’m enjoying a wonderful little book by William Greenhill (1598-1671) called Stop Loving the World. Greenhill, an Independent member of the Westminster Assembly, committee member for the Savor Declaration, and co-laborer with Jeremiah Burroughs at Stepney, originally published the sermon as “Being Against the Love of the World” in an appendix to his book, The Sound Hearted Christian (1670).
As part of Reformation Heritage Books‘ Puritan Treasures for Today series, Stop Loving the World provides a wonderful Puritan-styled meditation on a much-needed topic: worldliness. Jay Collier has done a wonderful job of organizing the longer sermon into a short book format. In the opening chapter, Greenhill meditates on 1 John 2:15 and offers a helpful definition of what it means to leave the world. Here are the ten headings, which still help the soul to contemplate whether “we love the world” and “if the love of the Father is in him.”
1. To love the world is to highly esteem it, holding it in a high account.
2. We love the world when our thoughts are fixed on the world.
3. Men are said to love the world when they desire the world.
4. Love for the world is found in setting the heart on the things of the world.
5. We are said to love the world when we employ most of our strength in, on, and about the things of the world.
6. We are said to love the world when we watch all opportunities and occasions to get the things of the world: to buy cheap and sell high; to get great estates, houses, lands, and things of that nature.
7. We love the world when we endure great hardships for it.
8. Men love the world when they favor the world the most.
9. A man loves the world when he mourns and laments for the things of the world that are taken from him.
10. We are said to love the world when we are resolved to be rich and will have the world one way or another.
I found Greenhill’s list a helpful meditation and nuancing of love for the world. It’s a good self-assessment. Try editing the sentences by turning them into questions. ”Do I…?” Pray the Lord exposes the remnants of worldliness and frees us by the power of His Spirit and the promises of His gospel.