Wednesday, April 29, 2009

II Timothy 3:1-5

My pastor sends out e-mail thoughts each week too. He has been thinking through II Timothy 3:1-5, and today's part matches up well with what I teach my karate classes, so I thought I'd paste it in here:

Thoughts from the Pastor

Continuing in our study of II Timothy 3:1-5, we look today at the section which describes men in the last days as being, “… treacherous, rash, conceited…” In other words, we can expect people to treat us and others in such a fashion that betrays attitudes of the basest sort. This whole passage we have been “briefly” looking at is a warning – not only to be prepared and not surprised, but also to keep from these characteristics ourselves as those who profess a relationship with Christ.

This word “treacherous” is translated from the original word for traitor, or betrayer. It is the kind of person referred to in Proverbs (11:13) when it says, “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Once more in Proverbs is “gossip” tied to “betrayal”, and it is easy to see how the two can be related. But Paul is warning Timothy that there will be more and more incidences of betrayal and treachery as time winds down to the Last Day. To betray someone is to exchange their trust for something else. To treat lightly that which others value – so much so that one might be willing to trade it for something deemed more valuable. Historical names are all that is needed to understand this concept – Judas who betrayed Christ, Benedict Arnold who betrayed the Colonies in the American Revolution, and Quisling who betrayed Norway to the Nazis in World War II. According to what Paul is saying, we should expect more of this. But that should make us all the more vigilant to be proper “discerners” of those who call themselves Christians, since we will naturally be the target of those who would betray someone. Paul spoke of them to the elders of the church in Ephesus in Acts 20:29, “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.” He was referring to the same wolves that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7:15, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” We must be discerning without taking upon ourselves the job of being the Judge. God will judge, but we must be wise and discerning so that we are not “devoured.”Above all, let us never be of such character as to be treacherous ourselves, but let our commitment be to conform to the image of Christ. I would remind us of what Paul said in II Timothy 2:13, “… if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” Let us remain faithful to our Savior and to His people – the Redeemed.

This word “rash” is something we live see our society often without realizing it, because it has become the norm. We live according to the “tyranny of the urgent”. There is no time to do what we want to do, and hardly time to think about what we ought to do. This lends itself to a tendency towards “rashness”. To be rash is to act without prior thinking or consideration. When learning to properly use a firearm or shoot an arrow with a bow, the concept first taught is this – “Ready, Aim, Shoot”. But a pervasive characteristic in our society is, “Shoot, Ready, Aim”. Proverbs 14:16 speaks to this when it says, “A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless.” It is a good and worthy Christian virtue to be thoughtful, knowledgeable of the Word of God, and to be one who is careful in their words and actions so that God is glorified and His wisdom is demonstrated in this life. There is enough “rashness” in this world that is fueled by evil intent and rebellious hearts. Let Christians not be found rash, but wise. Let that which is good and godly drive our thoughts instead of that which is self-centered, selfish and evil.

Need I say much about the word “conceited”? This is tied directly to what we have looked at before concerning the heart of man. Without the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit - through the washing away of sinfulness by the shed blood of Jesus; and the rebirth of an individual as an adopted child of the King – the heart of man would be totally self-centered. It would also be selfish, self-promoting and the absolute center-of-the-universe to the exclusion of all else. The heart of natural man is filled with pride that causes him to look down on every other person. If someone is of “high station”, he considers himself superior. If someone is of “low station”, he thinks he is in reality superior, but is being “kept down” by those who are inferior to him. Pride comes in many different forms, but nevertheless resides in the heart of every man. As Christians, let us seek to follow the advice of Paul when he says in Ephesians 4:2-3, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

And may the God of Peace watch over us and protect us as we seek to be His and not the World’s!

In Christ,
Thomas
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