Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Dysfunctional Family

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:1-7 NKJV

How often have you heard the comment that someone you know or knew at one time was “just like their parents”? Children grow up watching their parents and looking at them as an example of how to be, and in many cases begin to imitate the behavior they observe. As we have considered this passage in the past few weeks, we have seen the attitudes it describes seem to lead one to another in a downward spiral of ungodly attitudes which manifest themselves in what we could describe as “people behaving badly”.

What we see next seems to be a description of what happens to the family as children observe these attitudes in their parents, and begin to be affected by them. The first effect we see is described as disobedience to parents. In the Greek, the word for “disobedient” is translated “non-compliant” which to me seems to indicate that this is the attitude they observe when parents are consumed with the pursuit of riches. How often do you hear of someone who is wealthy explain that they achieved their success by breaking the rules, doing things their way, and in essence being “non-compliant” to the idea of caring more about those around them than in their own personal achievements?

Once the seeds of disobedience are planted, the fruit that quickly grows from them seem to be internal attitudes that will later explain the ungodly actions towards others in their interpersonal relationships. In order, Paul tells Timothy that disobedience to parental authority leads children to be “unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving”. Now is it possible that anyone has had the occasion to either observe or hear these particular attitudes used separately or collectively to describe the youth of today? I know that I read a commentary not too long ago in a national publication which did exactly that when talking about some of the social ills we face as a nation today.

Unthankful”. In the Greek; acharistos...ungracious. Personally, I see this as a manifestation of an attitude I see a lot of now in the workplace and elsewhere in which many people feel that they somehow are deserving of whatever it is they want rather than having to work for it and being thankful that they got it. Their attitude is that life owes them something so there is no reason to be thankful for it. In children, this would mean that rather than being thankful for the work and effort their parents put out to provide for them, they simply take it for granted.

Unholy”. In the Greek; anosios...wicked. This another way of saying evil and it describes someone who has an attitude of first looking to do the wrong thing rather than the right. One definition calls an evil person “morally bad”, which I think is a perfect description of someone who believes that the rules don't apply to them. When they are faced with a decision on a course of action, rather than thinking of the possible affects on others, they base their actions on how best to get what they want without considering whether those actions could be considered “right” or “wrong”.

Unloving”. In the Greek; astorgos...unsociable. Why does this one not surprise me? When someone is so consumed with their own life and their pursuit of whatever they feel is owed to them, why worry about those around you? It takes time and effort to develop personal relationships with others, as well as having the desire to actually care about them. It certainly makes sense that it is difficult to think and care about others when your priority is “self”. Where Jesus teaches us to care about others first, the world teaches self-centeredness with no thought about others.

Unforgiving”. In the Greek; aspondos...truce-breakers or untrustworthy. Go figure. Paul tells us that someone who is so consumed with self and their pursuit of personal gain will be the sort of person you can never trust to keep their word. In other words, a liar. How far we have come from a time where a man's word was enough to be considered legally binding to where we are now in a society where lying and cheating to gain advantage is the norm.

How unfortunate it is that what Paul describes to us in these verses is exactly what many would claim we see around us today. A society where love of self and love of money results in a generation of children who are unthankful, immoral, unsociable, and untrustworthy. All because of the decision to take the step of loving self first, rather than thinking of others as God has instructed us to do. I can't read this passage and all that it describes without thinking of the description of the church at Laodiciea that we find in the book of Revelation.

"Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-- "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, [that] the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Revelation 3:17-20 NKJV

How difficult it is to accept the fact that Jesus tells us here that just before He returns for His Church, the attitudes of the majority within the church mimic those we find Paul warning Timothy about. Again, as easy as it is to look at those around us to see if these attitudes are present, we must never forget to look in the mirror first and take an honest look at ourselves. Have we made the decision to put others first, and show them the love that God has shown towards us?

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 13:34 NKJV

If we make this decision and put it into practice, our children will see it and learn it from us. Let us be an example to them and to those around us by showing God's love not just in word, but in deed.

Keep watching.