Some people think worldliness has to do with external behavior-the people we associate with, the places we go, the activities in which we participate. This is not entirely accurate, for worldliness begins in the heart. It is characterized by three attitudes: (1) lust-preoccupation with gratifying physical desires; (2) materialism-craving and accumulating things, and (3) pride-obsession with one’s status or importance.
By contrast, God values self-control, a spirit of generosity, and humble service. It is possible to avoid “worldly pleasures” while still harboring worldly attitudes in one’s heart. It is also possible, like Jesus, to love sinners and spend time with them while maintaining the values of God’s kingdom.
Though the Lord is on high,
yet He regards the lowly;
but the proud he knows from afar.
Portions of commentary from The One Year NIV Devotional NT, December 16, notes for 1 John 2:12-17