Sunday, January 6, 2013

Who Do You Love?

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

I would suggest that if you were to ask someone why they believe we may be living in the end times their response would probably be to start talking about earthquakes, hurricanes, superstorms, global warming, and just about any other natural disaster they could think of. I too, see these things occurring and believe they are indeed signs that we are approaching the deliverance which the Church has longed for since Jesus gave us His promise that He would return.

Yet while everyone focuses on natural disasters, in this passage, and others, when the Apostle Paul addresses the subject of the last days he tells the reader they should look not at those things but rather the actions of people and how they choose to live. Now when I first realized this I admit I had to take some time to think about what Paul was trying to tell us, and to sort of wrap my thoughts around what the world might look like if the majority of people lived as Paul describes here. My conclusion was that not only does it describe what could accurately be called a “me first” society, it could also easily be describing the country we live in today.

So I thought we might spend a few weeks looking closer at the attitudes Paul describes here, especially in the order that he gives them to us because it seems to me that if you consider the order, it might suggest that one follows another in what could be called a progression of moral and spiritual decay. With that in mind, let's look at what Paul describes first.

For men will be lovers of themselves,”. The Greek word used here which translates to the phrase “lovers of themselves” is philautos, and it means loving one's self, too intent on one's interest, selfish”. Isn't it interesting that the very first attitude we find prevalent in society in the last days is the complete opposite of what Jesus commanded all of His followers to do?

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
John 13:34-35 NKJV

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Galatians 5:14 NKJV

But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
1 Thessalonians 4:9 NKJV

For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,
1 John 3:11 NKJV

Without question we must acknowledge that as believers our first responsibility is to focus on others and to demonstrate to them the love that God has shown to us. Yet I wonder how many of us have taken the time to consider “why” we are commanded to do so? I believe that the passage in Timothy clearly shows that if we fail to take this first step, what follows is a journey down the opposite path which eventually results in the inability to be of any use to God and His work. Instead of focusing on serving God by serving others we begin to focus on ourselves and what we want from this life and how best to get it. Rather than doing God's will and allowing Him to reward us in His good time and ways, we make the decision to focus our efforts on attaining whatever it is that we desire without concern of how we accomplish that.

The result of this decision is the second step we see in the passage from Timothy, “lovers of money,”. In the times in which we live, does it not seem that the answer to the question of how best to get what I want is to simply get more money? How many people today have fallen for the lie that money will bring you happiness? The Greek word used here is philargyros, which translated means “loving money, avarice.” Avarice is most often translated as greed or covetousness, and what it really means is that one becomes consumed by the desire to the point that it becomes an obsession. The obvious problem with this is that when this happens the result is that you can never get enough to satisfy the desire. Therefore all of your efforts are focused on getting more for yourself, and obviously not on serving God and others.

For the love of money is a root of all [kinds of] evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 2:15 NKJV

What do you see when you look at the society we live in today? Do you see a people concerned with loving others more than themselves and doing what they can for their fellow man, or do you see a population focused on themselves and whatever they can get? Do you read words like loving, caring, and serving in the news, or is it more like selfish, angry, and entitlement? I asked the question last week “do you see what I see?” Look around and ask yourself if Paul is describing to Timothy exactly what we see today all around us. Whatever the world has to offer will never satisfy what God can offer.

Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."
John 4:13-14 NKJV

In these times as life becomes increasingly difficult, it is hard not to focus on taking care of our own needs first. Yet to do so is to take away from serving others, and most of all not allowing God to take care of us. As a body we cannot forget what God has called us to do, and always remember our first concern is for others and not ourselves.

Keep watching.