Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. (I John 215-17)
Don't love the world's ways. That is a pretty specific commandment, isn't it? What are the 'world's ways'? If you have been in church for any length of time, you have probably heard the phrase, "She doesn't drink or chew, or run with those that do." In essence, the belief is that there will be a difference between the life of one committed to this walk we call 'Christianity' and the life choices of one who has yet to make that commitment. Have you ever heard Christianity referred to as 'The Way'? Back in the day they used to refer to Christians as those who embraced 'the way'. Today we might say they have had a life change - seeming to be 'reformed' in some manner. Regardless of what we refer to this choice to follow Jesus, one thing remains true - there is but one way to God's presence - Christ. All other 'ways' are simply not 'the way' that God honors. That may seem a little harsh or 'narrow-minded', but I believe scripture bears with me on this fact. The 'other ways' we may think we can come into God's presence are likely just the 'ways' the world promotes as 'works' we must do in order to be 'good enough' to approach holiness. Truth be told - we already possess holiness and it possesses us if we are 'in Christ Jesus'. We don't have to get 'good enough' because we are already made that perfect kind of 'good' that God sees when he looks upon his one and only son, Jesus.
If our lives are supposed to be 'different' from those who haven't yet entered into this grace relationship with Jesus, what does that difference look like? We are given three examples of how we can know the difference - no longer wanting just our own way, pursuing things because they will benefit self, and wanting to at least look important in this world. It all begins with what we 'want' and that affects what we 'pursue'. I want to lower my cholesterol level, so I faithfully take my anti-lipid medications and eat a relatively healthy diet. I try to avoid those things higher in unhealthy fats, choosing rather to eat more fruits and veggies, leaner meats, and snacks that don't contribute to my higher cholesterol readings. If you 'want' something, you change your perspective so that you are in a position to receive what you want. If we want all the things of this world - always so focused on what we can get from the world - we won't find ourselves enjoying the presence of Jesus all that much. In fact, some would label this type of individual as kind of 'double-minded' - talking out of both sides of their mouths. They say one thing, but their actions indicate a totally different motivation.
God is after our motivation - what is it we seek and why do we seek it the way we do. The more we allow God to help us seek only the stuff that draws us closer to him, the more likely we are to find we desire less and less of the things that draw us away from him. The self-man is a bit of a challenge to most of us. We want our way a whole lot of the time and we resist much of whatever comes from God that asks us to forsake our ways by embracing his way. It is in only in laying ourselves down that we find there is room to embrace his way. His way will always be foreign to our self-man because his way tells us to lay down our lives - while our self-man tells us to do everything in our power to preserve self! Motives are 'heart born' - therefore, God brings a change to our heart (mind, will, and emotions) in order to break us free from the desires our self-man pursues. If you are struggling with a change of mindset, it is likely because we have a will that chooses to give into our emotions way too much. God's way involves all three of these being transformed - making our choices different because we 'become' different at the very core of our being. Don't beat self up - give self up. Don't get down on self - get up and embrace the helping arms of Jesus as he welcomes you into his presence. The choices we make to not indulge self may seem a little hard at first, but the reward of following 'the way' far outreaches anything we will ever obtain by 'self-made plans' and 'schemes'. Just sayin!