Jump Start # 2626
2 Timothy 3:3 “unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self control, brutal, haters of good.”
Our verse sadly sounds much too similar to the spirit of what is going on in our country these days. Paul is giving Timothy a descriptive look at what the troubled times would look like. This description is something that Timothy would recognize. It was true then and it’s true today. After even more descriptive terms of people who live without God, Paul tells Timothy to “avoid such men as these.” Stay clear. Nothing good will come of it.
It is interesting how our verse today is framed. It begins with “unloving” and ends with “haters of good.” If one is unloving, they will naturally hate. Hating what is good, implies embracing what is wrong or evil. The heart of these people was empty. They were thinking of no one but themselves. They hurt others. You know that by the expressions, “malicious gossips,” “brutal,” and “without self control.” Anything might happen and that anything wasn’t going to be good. Evil. Wicked. Mean. Troublemakers. That’s the world Timothy lived in. And, it’s the world we live in.
Hatred leads to people doing wrong and doing things without thinking. And, because of wrong actions, hatred can cause others to start hating. The climate of Paul’s words was not racism, destroying historical statues and changing public policy about law enforcement. Paul had a greater concern. It was spiritual. They had a form of godliness but they were going about doing harm. God’s word had not changed them. They heard about the compassionate Savior, yet they lived with a spirit of hatred running their veins. They were intent on upsetting unstable Christians and turning good inside out. Later in the chapter, the apostle labels these haters as evil men and imposters.
Here are some things to consider:
First, the unteachable do not want to be taught. Our Lord warned about casting pearls before the swine. Some are bent on wickedness and meanness, no matter what. Some would even hurt their own families if they felt like it. Paul doesn’t encourage Timothy to debate these folks. He doesn’t tell him that the truth will change them. He doesn’t want Timothy to engage them in discussion. It would be a losing proposition. Timothy would be fair and go by the rules. These folks make the rules up as they go.
This is hard for some of us. We hear and see stuff that is just not right. We want to have an open dialogue. We feel that if reason, logic and facts were presented, it would change people’s minds. Nope. That won’t happen. The angry mentality of our day wants to tear down rather than build up. You see stuff on Facebook. People share things. It stirs you up. You want to engage. You have facts, truth and common sense. Paul’s words remind us, “avoid such men as these.”
Second, hatred has a way of making others hate. Hatred is like mold on a wall. It spreads. One bad act makes others want to retaliate with another bad act. Like the game of ping-pong, back and forth the hateful acts go, until someone really gets hurt. If you find yourself getting worked up, steamed, unnerved by the bad acts of others, it’s time to pull away, drop in prayer and get your focus back.
Within this sad chapter Paul presents two reminders to Timothy. Surrounded with hatred and evil around him, Paul tells Timothy:
- But you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, sufferings (10-11a)
- You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of (14)
Is it any different for us? Are we going to mimic hatred or the Christ who loves us and died for us?
Third, Paul’s words remind us that we do not have to take on the spirit of our times. We can remain true to what we believe in. Filling our hearts and time with the goodness of the Gospel will help us. Spending more time with Jesus than watching the news will help us. I can be thoughtful, when others are not. I can be thankful when others are hating. I can be helpful when others are being destructive. I can do right when others are doing wrong.
Fourth, as always, God makes the difference. The spirit of hatred is anger and misery. Hateful people are not joyous and happy. They are not thankful. It’s a sorry place to be when hatred fills ones’ heart. Hatred, unchecked, will lead to violence, evil and wrong. It always does. And, the way out of hatred is God. Walking with the Savior makes all the difference. What is the outcome? These haters in Paul’s day were headed for an eternity of damnation away from God. Rather than building up, they were tearing down. Rather than being useful, they were hurtful. Rather than encouraging, they were discouraging. And, here, centuries later, we are reading about the wicked footprints that they left upon history. Their times passed. They died. We don’t know their names nor the specifics that they were involved in. But we do know, that unless they changed, they lost their souls. One can not hurt the people of God and get away with it. One can not trash the holy name of God and get away with it. And, sadly, these same steps may very well be repeated by some today who are so filled with rage and anger that they cannot see beyond violence and hurting others. Time will pass. Their names will be forgotten. Their wicked deeds will not be known. But into eternity they will go. Unless changed, their souls are at stake.
What is the issue of our times is not whether historical statues ought to come down, product names change, and public policy be reshaped. What the issue is hearts filled with hatred that very well may be lost someday. Prayers for salvation, sense and love is what is at stake. Saving an old statue of someone no one remembers is not nearly as important as saving the soul of the one whose eyes are filled with rage.
These are times to pray. These are times to remember what we have learned and are convinced of. These are times to avoid some discussions, lest we too, be filled with anger and hatred.
Troublesome times are here, filling men’s heart with fear…