2 Timothy 3
1 Understand that the last days will be dangerous times. 2 People will be selfish and love money. They will be the kind of people who brag and who are proud. They will slander others, and they will be disobedient to their parents. They will be ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, contrary, and critical. They will be without self-control and brutal, and they won’t love what is good. 4 They will be people who are disloyal, reckless, and conceited. They will love pleasure instead of loving God. 5 They will look like they are religious but deny God’s power. Avoid people like this.
It would be easy for me to take this scripture and use it as a convincer that we are in the last days. Surely all of us can see these things in our world around us. But I have a feeling that Timothy was seeing these things around him as well, and so was Paul, and so did many others who have read these words down through the ages. That is not to discount the warning – surely in the last days it will be dangerous times.
Notice that starting in v2 Paul talks about how people will be, selfish, greedy, braggarts and proud, slanderers, disobedient to parents, and on and on through v 5 where at the end of this verse he says, “Avoid people like this.”
One thing I’ve noticed during the course of my life is that most people, including myself, are easily molded by their surroundings and the people they hang around with. When I was running from my calling I hung around with people who were in alignment with that running. I didn’t hang around with people who would bring me closer to God and get me back on the path because at that time I didn’t want to be on the path. But it goes beyond that.
Hang around with people long enough and you might notice you start talking like them, using some of their catch phrases, eating similar foods, reading similar books or watching similar movies. We become like those we hang around with and like, we mirror those we are in contact with the most.
Depending on who we are around, this could be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s hard sometimes to make the choice to avoid someone. Especially if it’s someone we have grown to like. But Paul tells Timothy, avoid people who have these negative qualities.
Wait a minuite… Aren’t we supposed to minister to people like this? Shouldn’t we try to win them to Christ? Yes! But that doesn’t mean we need to be around them all the time to do so. Sometimes putting distance between yourself and people who are contrary to your spiritual health is nessesary.
I’ve been down the road of “I’m hanging around them so I might be able to witness to them.” And I’ve done that, (witnessed) but I’ve also seen my witness fall on deaf ears as I personally slipped further and further away from the path I should have been on. I see wisdom in Paul’s word here.
Be careful Christian. Yes you are sheep sent in among wolves – so be cunning and remain innocent. Don’t get caught up in the ways of the wolves.
Help me to be an effective witness of your grace and love to those you put in my path. Let me be efficent in modeling a Christlike spirit to those who need Christ in their spirit. Keep me safe and protect me from the influences of people who would bring me into their ways which would be contrarty to a life pleasing to you.