Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:1 You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. 2 For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them!
Observation: The apostle Paul, writer of this passage, is instructing his protege Timothy concerning what we might call the “end times”. Given that many early Christians lived in a brutal world of great struggle and difficulty, Jesus’ return was eagerly anticipated. In fact, the letters of the New Testament seem to indicate many were expecting Jesus to return within their lifetimes. Obviously that did not happen, as we continue to wait almost 2,000 years later.
Application: A common question through the centuries has been “When will Jesus come again?” Passages like this one tend to draw great scrutiny as people speculate.
2 For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good..
I’ve heard Christian leaders make the argument that NOW must be the end of the age. They point to the sorry state of things as evidence – government ineptitude, Wall Street greed, growing violence, youthful disregard for morality, the collapse of the family, and so on. The signs are everywhere!
Only these aren’t the signs Paul is referring to in the passage, as we can see in verse 5:
5 holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power..
The people who offer an “outward form of godliness” aren’t people outside the church, but inside the church. Paul is talking about Christians here. The problem is not with government or business elites or military leaders or wandering youth. The problem is with the people we call “the church”.
Too many Christians spend a great deal of time confessing other peoples’ sins. This is a serious problem. This form of moralizing and self-righteousness – with extended fingers (metaphorically) stabbing other peoples’ chests – only serves to reinforce the stereotype that Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites. Why? Because Christians are broken people too.
Time to stop worrying so much about those bad people “out there” and time to get focused on our own short-comings “in here”.
Prayer: Lord have mercy on us. Amen.