The answer to this question depends on what the OBJECT OF YOUR LOVE is. The believer is warned against setting their heart on THINGS which will dishonor God and hinder their spiritual growth. For example, the child of God is exhorted in 1st John 2:15-17, “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. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (NKJV). If the “object of our love” is THE WORLD it would “NOT be wise to refuse to give it up.” The “world” in this passage is the Greek word KOSMOS and it refers to “the world system that is alienated from God and in opposition to Him.” In other words, the world is anything that would compete for our affections and that would cause us NOT to have love for our heavenly Father.

The world offers us three things: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” The “lust of the flesh” speaks of things in the world which would gratify the appetites of our body. The “lust of the eyes” speaks of things in the world that we see which would tempt us to sin. The “pride of life” speaks of things in the world which would draw attention to us in order to receive self-glory. These “things” may not be sinful in and of themselves, but Satan can use them to lure us into LOVING THEM and NOT LOVING THE FATHER. This is what happened in the Garden of Eden when he drew Eve’s attention to the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” He convinced the woman that if she ate of its fruit she would “be like God” (Genesis 3:5).  The woman fell for the bait and thus we read in verse 6, “So when the woman saw that the tree was GOOD FOR FOOD (the “lust of the flesh”), that it was PLEASANT TO THE EYES (the “lust of the eyes”), and a tree desirable to MAKE ONE WISE (the “pride of life”), she took of its fruit and ate.” Again, the tree itself was not sinful, but it became AN OBJECT OF THE WOMAN’S LOVE that led her to sin against God. The “world system” and “love for the world” began that fateful day and ever since then the Devil has been using the world to captivate the hearts of believers in order to draw their hearts away from loving the Father.

On a positive note, there are THINGS which the believer should set their heart upon and love. In 1st John 4:19 we read, “We love Him because He first loved us.” This verse teaches us that when we are occupied with God’s love for us, we in turn will love Him. God’s love is so great and it deserves to be the OBJECT OF OUR LOVE! When our hearts are taken up with His love for us we will instinctively LOVE HIM and HONOR HIM in our lives. The apostle Paul speaks of this in 2nd Corinthians 5:14-15, “For the LOVE OF CHRIST compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” Paul’s main object in his life (from the moment he was saved on the Damascus turnpike until he gave his life as a martyr for the faith), was “the love of Christ.” It motived him; it energized him, and it compelled him to live “for Him who died for him and rose again.” If the “object of our love” is THE LOVE OF CHRIST it would “be wise to refuse to give it up.” Even if we are called upon to lay down our life for Christ (as Paul did…see 2nd Timothy 4:6-8); we should never deny our love for Christ.

I should add that in some translations 1st John 4:19 reads, “We love because He first loved us.” This means that God’s love for us gives us the capacity to LOVE other people, not just God. In 1st John 3:14 we read, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.” Our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ should also be the OBJECT OF OUR LOVE! We should never give that up; in fact, we should be willing to lay down our lives for them too, as we see in verse 16, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” Jesus put it this way in John 15:13, “Greater love has not one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” We should “feel so strongly” about our love for believers that we should “refuse to give it up.”

Other scriptures teach us to LOVE ALL MEN, including lost sinners. Since “God so loved the world (the ‘world of lost sinners’) that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16), we should love the world of lost sinners too. Our love for lost souls should be so great that we are willing to suffer hardship and deprivation in order to win them for Christ. This love for lost souls was expressed beautifully by the apostle Paul in 2nd Timothy 2:10, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” We should “feel so strongly” about our love for them that we should “refuse to give it up.”  (344.1)  (DO)