Wednesday, June 23, 2010


2 Timothy 3:1-5

"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these."

These last days in which we live--these difficult times--are characterized by love for all the wrong things. Two Greek words for love are used six times in these five verses--three times in speaking of things that should be loved, but are not, and three times in speaking of things that should not be loved, but are.

What should be loved? We should love God, but in these last days men are "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (2 Tim. 3:4). According to Jesus’ own testimony the great commandment in the law is "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matt. 22:37). We were created to love God, but in sin love is misplaced.

We ought to love others. But in the last days men are "unloving." The Greek term translated "unloving" means "without natural affection or unsociable." The RSV translates it "inhuman." In these last days men are "inhumane" in their dealings with other men. Jesus said, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39). We were created to love others, but in sin love is misplaced.

We ought to love that which is good. But in the last days men are "haters of good" (2 Tim. 3:3). Instead of seeking "after that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:15), men are prone to "call evil good, and good evil" (Isa. 5:20). We were created to love good, but in sin love is misplaced.

What is loved instead? Instead of loving God, others, and what is good, men love self, money (KJV, "covetous"), and pleasure. We have terms to define these conditions. The love of self is narcissism. "Narcissism" is a term derived from Greek mythology. Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who looked into a pool of water, saw his reflection for the first time, and was left there to pine away for love of his own reflection. Having forsaken love for God, our humanistic generation elevates self-worship in His place. Self-love and selfishness rule the day in which we live.

We ought not to love money. The love of money equates to materialism. Materialism has been defined as "a desire for wealth and material possessions with little interest in ethical or spiritual matters"--an apt description of the days in which we live. "The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil" (1 Tim. 6:10), so "let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have" (Heb. 13:5).

We ought not to love pleasure ("lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God"). The word translated "pleasure" is a Greek word related to our English word "hedonism." Hedonism is, according to Webster’s, "the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the whole or chief good in life." The commonly used expression, "Whatever makes you happy," reflects a hedonistic attitude. Pleasure ought to be pursued instead in God. Psa. 16:11, "In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever."

This unholy trinity of misdirected loves--love for self, love of money, and love of pleasure--is reflected in the narcissistic, materialistic, and hedonistic tendencies of the world in which we live. Sadly, these pursuits are but "broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jer. 2:13). They offer mere "passing pleasures" (Heb.11:25) and represent a "futile way of life" (1 Pet. 1:18). They are consistent to the "way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Prov. 14:12).

God saves us, in part, to redirect our affections. We are born-again and "taught by God to love" (1 Thess. 4:9) and to love that which we ought to love. In loving God, loving good, and loving others we love the things that last. "And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:17).

The misdirected love of this present generation gives ample opportunity for believers in Christ to "appear as lights in the world" "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation" (Phil. 2:15). As we walk in the narrow way that leads to life we need to pay careful attention lest we be drawn away by the multitudes who "spend their love in all the wrong places." Let love for Christ guide our steps as we learn how to love the things that last.

Pastor Jerry

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