Jeremiah 18-19 2 Timothy 3
“Remember this! In the last days there will be many troubles, because people will love themselves, love money, brag, and be proud. They will say evil things against others and will not obey their parents or be thankful or be the kind of people God wants.” (2 Timothy 3:1-2 NCV)
If you read Paul’s comments to Timothy about the last days without knowing they were Paul’s words, you might be hard pressed not to think that this was a commentary on our current world. These two verses and the next four describe a world gone sour because people decided to put themselves first rather than following and obeying God. If anyone thinks they come first above all others, the end result is that whatever they do to achieve their goals is ok in their own eyes. Slander? Greed? Boasting? Does it advance their agenda? If it does, then it’s ok. Paul continued talking about hatred, cruelty, gossip, and a number of other bad character qualities that define people in the last days. If we focus on their character qualities alone, though, we miss the cause: they’ve put themselves first in all things, even above God.
Gale Sayers, one of the finest running backs ever in football wrote a book that put priorities in the right order: “I Am Third.” The title, as he explained it, was based on the belief that “God is first, my friends and family are second, and I am third.” Another way to look at that attitude is to say that JOY comes when our priorities are “Jesus, Others, Yourself.” I believe that when Paul wrote this description, he had some of the personalities of the people in his days. Even still, I can’t help but think that God gave him insight into the 21st century. Politicians on both sides of the aisle, businessmen, workers, and most of society not only exemplify these negative qualities, they glorify them. We see hatred and violence spreading and don’t want to admit that these are the extensions of a belief that puts one’s self above all others. Even the quest for vengeance against evil acts such as we’ve seen, while easy to justify, are an example of putting ourselves before others. As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King pointed out, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Perhaps the hardest thing for me to understand about God’s love is that He even loves those people who engage in the most terrible acts. He seeks to draw them to Himself, not destroy them. Knowing that, I must love all people, even the ones I’d rather hate.
Lord, we’ve seen many examples of evil in this world caused by people who reject Your love and are full of hate. It’s mind boggling to me that You still love them, but You do. Lord, I pray that Your love will change them, and others who might follow in their footsteps. Teach me to love all people with the same kind of love You had for me when I was at my worst.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.