During a major sports competition, a male sprinter jumped the gun, resulting in a false start and immediate disqualification from the event. His responses included tearing off his sprinter’s bib, writhing on the ground, and weeping in a curled-up position at the side of the track. A female sprinter was running well in her event when she slipped coming over a hurdle on a rain-slicked track and fell to the ground. Her race for all intents and purposes was over, but she got up and finished it with a look of calm determination on her face.

As I considered the contrast between the two athletes’ responses, it occurred to me that the things we truly love can be revealed when we face hard times. The apostle John contrasts love for the world with our love for God. He wrote, “Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you” (1 John 2:15). “World” is translated from the Greek word kosmos—meaning the evil system that is prevalent in our lives under Satan’s direction (1 John 5:19). It’s not God’s created world that He loves (see “world” in John 3:16).

So what does loving the world include? “Craving physical pleasure,” “craving . . . everything we see,” and “pride in our achievements and possessions” (1 John 2:16). In other words, when we love the stuff of this life more than the One who gave it to us, God’s love isn’t reflected in us. Our behavior, responses, values, and decisions in life—including when we face adversity—will not be pretty.

By God’s grace, we can live out what “pleases” Him (1 John 2:17). As we grasp the far greater love He’s poured out on us, our love for the world will flicker and fade.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Mark 1:16-39