Near the end of his ministry as prophet in Israel, Moses reminded God’s covenant people that they must love the Lord their God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength. (See Deuteronomy 6:5.) To do this, they were exhorted to not set their hearts upon the things of the world.
So, what does it mean to love God more than the world?
A six-year old boy says, “It means that you love God more than your dog.” To a recovering alcoholic, it means passing up 20-year scotch to pursue a Christian life. For budding celebrities like David Archuleta, it’s putting education and/or career on hold to preach the gospel.
The apostle John wrote: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15). Taking this scripture literally,we may think that the Lord does not want us to have any affection for those around us including our family and material possessions. This is not true. As the following verse clearly states, it is the “lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” that we should avoid. (See verse 16.)
Of course, we can love our families and friends. You can love your house, your job, your shoes, or even your favorite songs. Some of us hold in high regard non-corporeal objects such as beauty, education, fame, and political power. Most of these things are important. However, none of these should take the place of God in our lives, not even spouses, parents, and children.
The Savior said: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26).”The Apostle Paul taught that we should set our affection on things above and not on things on earth (Colossians 3:2). In the Book of Mormon, Jacob taught: “But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the Kingdom of God.” (See Jacob 2:18.)
I love my family. I have caring parents and nine wonderful siblings that I love very much. I also have nieces and nephews in whom I see my younger self growing up. I love them too, and have a special place in my heart for them. My wife is the one that I love the most. She taught me how to love and appreciate the little things we have. She taught me how to always say “please”, “thank you”, and “sorry” from the heart.
When I think about the people I love, I am reminded of the Father whose love I could never comprehend, who “spared not His own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). He has repeatedly declared in the scriptures that we are the reason he created the universe. His love for us exceeds His love for all of His other creations. President Diether F. Uchtdorf, taught that “compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God.”
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that just as God’s love for us enabled Him to sacrifice his Only-Begotten Son, we too must be willing to sacrifice all things and love Him more than anything that the world can offer. We must not be like the Rich Young Ruler who, despite his professed love for the Savior, walked away sorrowfully because he loved his riches more. Rather, we must constantly make an inventory of our lives and see to it that we are keeping God first at all times, in all thing, and in all places.