2 Timothy 3
The first half of this chapter paints a rather bleak picture of thriving human sinfulness. “Lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. … who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth“ (2 Timothy 3:2-5, 6b-7). That’s a pretty good list of nastiness. And it hits so many types of people: the materialistic, the teen rebel, the violent criminal, the power-hungry politician, the educated professor who denies God.
And sometimes, it hits me, too. I can be proud – especially when I think I am right, but “they” are wrong. I can be ungrateful – to God and to those who have given of their time and talents for me. Sometimes love does not shine through me. I don’t always exercise self-control and bite my tongue when I ought. Too often I have chosen loving pleasure over loving God – watching one more episode and then suddenly “too tired” to read His Word.
It is so easy to point the finger at evil and the dark side around us. And, definitely DO be aware of its prevalent influence in the world so you don’t unknowingly get sucked up in it yourself. But carefully watch yourself as well. Where do you need to work so you reflect more God and less world?
In the second half of this chapter Paul flips to writing on the light/Godly side of things. He speaks of his own life – his purpose, teaching, faith, and love as well as persecutions and suffering (3:10,11). This bed of roses indeed comes with many thorns. He writes, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (3:12). Because of the wickedness and deception in the world (see verses 1-9), Christians must expect and be prepared for many trials when they are actually acting like and following Christ.
But, don’t give up says Paul! “Continue in what you have learned and what you have become convinced of…the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation”. Who couldn’t use more wisdom for salvation?? Sign me up! I am ready for more wisdom that leads to salvation. I saw in the first half of this chapter my own darker side. I am in need of more and more wisdom for salvation. And, that is found in God’s Holy Scriptures.
But, that’s not all! There’s more good found in God’s Word. For, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (3:16). Here is the key to standing against the evil in the world and in myself – God’s Word! He breathed it for me. He breathed it for you. And it is useful, over and over again, every time it is opened. It gives wisdom for salvation, it teaches, it rebukes (which I do indeed need from time to time), it corrects, and it trains me to be righteous (which I always need).
But, there is still more! With God’s Word we can be, “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (3:17). Do you long to do good works for Him – open His Word. Are you discouraged by the evil of the world – open His Word. Are you ready to be wise for salvation – open His Word. Breath in what God breathed out for you.