If you do not love God, you will love something else, either the world or sin; and are those worthy of your love? Is it not better to love God than these? It is better to love God than the WORLD, as appears in the following particulars.
If you set your love on worldly things, they will not satisfy. You may as well satisfy your body with air, as your soul with earth! “In the fullness of his sufficiency, he shall be in straits” (Job 22:22). Plenty has its poverty. If the globe of the world were yours, it would not fill your soul. Will you set your love on that which will never give you contentment? Is it not better to love God? He will give you that which shall satisfy your soul to all eternity! “When I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalm 17:15). When I awake out of the sleep of death, and shall have some of the rays and beams of God’s glory put upon me, I shall then be satisfied with His likeness.
If you love worldly things, they cannot remove trouble of mind. If there is a thorn in the conscience, all the world cannot pluck it out. King Saul, being perplexed in mind, all his crown jewels could not comfort him (1 Sam. 28:15). But if you love God, He can give you peace when nothing else can; He can turn the “shadow of death into the morning” (Amos 5:8). He can apply Christ’s blood to refresh your soul; He can whisper His love by the Spirit, and with one smile scatter all your fears and disquiets.
If you love the world, you love that which may keep you out of heaven. Worldly contentments may be compared to the wagons in an army; while the soldiers have been entertaining themselves at the wagons, they have lost the battle. “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23). Prosperity, to many, is like a large sail to a small boat, which quickly overturns it; so that by loving the world, you love that which will endanger you. But if you love God, there is no fear of losing heaven. He will be a Rock to hide you—but not to hurt you. By loving Him, we come to enjoy Him forever.
You may love worldly things—but they cannot love you in return. You love gold and silver—but your gold cannot love you in return. You love a picture—but the picture cannot love you in return. You give away your love to the creature—and receive no love back. But if you love God, He will love you in return. “If any man loves me, my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). God will not be behindhand in love to us. For our drop of love to Him, we shall receive an ocean of His love!
When you love the world, you love that which is worse than yourselves. The soul, as Damascen says, is a sparkle of celestial brightness; it carries in it an idea and resemblance of God. While you love the world, you love that which is infinitely below the worth of your souls. Will any one lay out cost upon sackcloth? When you lay out your love upon the world, you hang a pearl upon a swine—you love that which is inferior to yourself. As Christ speaks in another sense of the fowls of the air, “Are you nor much better than they?” (Matt. 6:26), so I say of worldly things, Are you not much better than they? You love a fair house, or a beautiful garment—are you not much better than they? But if you love God, you place your love on the most noble and sublime object—you love that which is better than yourselves. God is better than the soul, better than angels, better than heaven!
You may love the world, and receive hatred for your love. “Because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). Would it not vex one to lay out money upon a piece of ground which, instead of bringing forth grain or fruit, should yield nothing but nettles? Thus it is with all earthly things—we love them, and they prove nettles to sting us! We meet with nothing but disappointment. “Let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon” (Judg. 9:15). While we love the creature, fire comes out of this bramble to devour us; but if we love God, He will not return hatred for love. “I love those who love me” (Proverbs 7:17). God may chastise His children—but He cannot hate them. Every believer is part of Christ, and God can as well hate Christ as hate a believer.
You may over-love the creature. You may love wine too much, and silver too much; but you cannot love God too much. If it were possible to exceed, excess here were a virtue; but it is our sin that we cannot love God enough. “How weak is your heart!” (Ezek. 16:30). So it may be said, How weak is our love to God! It is like water of the last drawing from the still—which has less spirit in it. If we could love God far more than we do–yet it can never be proportionate to His worth; so that there is no danger of excess in our love to God.
You may love worldly things, and they die and leave you. Riches take wings! Relations drop away! There is nothing here abiding. The creature has a little honey in its mouth–but it has wings! It will soon fly away. But if you love God, He is “a portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). As He is called a Sun for comfort, so a Rock for eternity; He abides forever. Thus we see it is better to love God than the world.
If it is better to love God than the world—surely also it is better to love God than SIN. “They are haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They are forever inventing new ways of sinning.” (Romans 1:30). What is there in sin, that any should love it? Sin is a debt. “Forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:12). It is a debt which binds over to the wrath of God; why should we love sin? Does any man love to be in debt? Sin is a disease. “The whole head is sick” (Isaiah 1:5). And will you love sin? Will any man hug a disease? Will he love his plague sores? Sin is a pollution. The apostle calls it “filthiness” (James 1:21). It is compared to leprosy and to poison of asps. God’s heart rises against sinners. “My soul loathed them” (Zech. 11:8). Sin is a hideous monster. Lust makes a man brutish; malice makes him devilish. What is in sin to be loved? Shall we love deformity? Sin is an enemy. It is compared to a “serpent” (Proverbs 23:32). Sin has five sharp stings—shame, guilt, horror, death, damnation. Will a man love that which seeks his death? Surely then it is better to love God than sin. God will save you, sin will damn you! Is he not a fool—who loves damnation? Many love sin, more than God.