2 Timothy 3.1-5 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
For men will be…
lovers of themselves unthankful brutal lovers of money unholy despisers of good boasters unloving traitors proud unforgiving headstrong blasphemers slanderers haughty disobedient to parents without self-control lovers of pleasure rather
than lovers of God
… having a form of godliness but denying its power.
And from such people turn away!
Judging by this list, the perilous last days are indeed upon us. Is this verse not a vivid snapshot of the world today? These men are said to have “a form of godliness” but it is powerless. Paul says to turn away and have nothing to do with people who practice such things.
If a life characterized by this list is a powerless “form of godliness” then it is certainly to our benefit to understand what each of these are and how they are manifested in behavior. Over the next few days we will examine them.
Lovers of themselves
The entire Christian existence is an exercise in denying yourself for the sake of God and others. It is the choice to love God and love others.
Luke 9.23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
The world would have us to believe that you need to “love yourself”, take care of yourself and be concerned about yourself first before you can be “healthy”.
I recently watched an interview of a very famous entertainer who had in many ways made a mess of her life despite being world famous, super rich and idolized by millions. She proclaimed that she has finally gotten her life on track because she has “learned how to love herself” and put herself first. In the past she had always done what other people wanted and that has been the cause of her failed marriages, abusive relationships and personal character flaws. But now that she had learned to “love herself first” and “take care of her first”, she proclaims herself as finally “healthy”.
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Even the Christian community has been duped into accepting the religion of “self love” and “self esteem”. We have turned inward to live a life focused on our needs, our past, our hurts and healing ourselves emotionally. Even our Christianity has been used as an excuse to turn inward. I recently spoke with a dear brother whose wife can’t be concerned with her marriage or family until she “gets herself” together first. After all, how can a person be expected to meet the needs of others when they haven’t even met their own needs. Ah, the foolish of human wisdom.
This is in stark opposition to clear teaching in the Bible that the Christian life is about denying ourselves, sacrificing for others, putting others before us and giving up our desires in love for those we serve.
- We are not to “learn to love ourselves”. (Luke 9.23)
- We are not to dwell on our past to get “healed”. (Phil 3.13-14)
- We are not to esteem ourselves. (1 Peter 5.5-6)
- We are not to consider our needs first. (Phil 2.3-4)
The way to take truly care of yourself, is to focus on God and others.
Get your mind off your “needs”, your “hurts”, your happiness, your feelings and your past. We are not to live our lives focused on “self”. The world preaches:
- You can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself
- You can’t learn to love others until you learn to love yourself
- You have to put yourself first because no one else will
- You have heal your past before you can have a healthy future
- You have to have a high self esteem and self worth.
This is the summary of the religion of man: “love yourself”.
It is exactly the opposite of the truly Godly life:
- Phil 2.2-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
- Rev 12.11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
- John 2.15 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.
- Luke 9.23-24 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
- Psalms 149.4 For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.
- Acts 20.35 And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
- 1 Cor. 10.24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
Father in heaven, help us today to lay aside the burden of worrying and focusing on ourselves. Help us loose the chains of self love and always being so acutely aware of our every need, every offense, every hurt and every want. Give us opportunity today to forget ourselves and focus on You, and on those around us. Help us to understand that the only true way to fulfill our “self needs”, is to serve the needs of others. Amen.