Jump Start # 2729
2 Timothy 3:5 “Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these.”
There is an old expression that says, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck.” That may be true in duck theology, but it’s certainly not true in our verse. Here, Paul was warning the young Timothy about certain people. He didn’t want Timothy to engage in conversation with them, convince them, debate them or even try to change them. No. Paul’s words are to avoid them.
They seemed to be ok on the outside. They were holding a form of godliness. But, it was all a veneer. There was no truth or substance to what they were saying. In fact, found in the verses before this, these same people are described as brutal, haters of good, gossips, without self-control, conceited, reckless, unholy, disobedient to parents, unloving, and loving pleasure rather than loving God. That list isn’t close to what a Christian ought to be. These people weren’t even close. So, the holding to a form of godliness, was all a sham. They weren’t serious. They weren’t honest. And, they weren’t humble. They were trouble and they’d be trouble for Timothy.
All of this leads us to some valid points to consider:
First, it’s easier to talk a good game than it is to walk it. It’s easy to sing hymns on a Sunday in a church house surrounded by true believers. But what does one do during the week? What does one do when alone? What does one do when others are watching?
It’s hard to understand why one would even go to the trouble of having a form of godliness. Why even try? If one is an unloving, arrogant gossip, why hang around the Christians? There is nothing in common. It won’t take very long and your attitude and words will trip you up and you’ll be exposed as not being a Christian.
It could be because of family pressure. Everyone else believes. One goes along and plays the game, just to please the family. But he no more worships on Sunday than the neighborhood cat outside the church door. He may bow and he may toss some bread and juice in his mouth, but he’ll leave just as he came, self-centered, indifferent, and uncaring. He’d do everyone a big favor if he just revealed his true colors. Sadly, some will do this just to marry someone. They are not interested in the Lord. They put on a good show just to get married and as soon as that’s done, they will not be seen.
Second, the character of a person is demonstrated in how they treat others and how they talk. Gossips can’t keep their mouths closed. They have to talk about others. And, all of this shows us that faith changes a person. Faith is not something that one turns on and then can switch off. Arrogant is what a person is. Kind is what a person is. How we behave at work. How we treat people that serve us, whether in restaurants, doctor’s offices, or at the tire store, shows our heart. Demanding, rude, unapologetic is the way many folks are these days. Faith will shine through.
Third, how we act is noticed by others. Evangelistic efforts are often diluted by people who know members who act just the way Paul described in this context. People that are dishonest. People that lie. People that cuss. People that get drunk. That’s the way the world acts. But when someone claims to be a Christian and acts the terrible way that Paul describes, it reflects upon the church. Someone concludes that the whole congregation is a bunch of hypocrites. One thinks, why should I go to worship, when they act just the way I do? But, then the opposite is also true. When a co-worker finds you to be honest, kind, caring and serious about your faith, it generates interest. When they talk about the weekend, and you are happily talking about going to worship, singing praises and the powerful sermon that touched your heart, that is something that is missing in their lives.
Fourth, some people are just not in the place to want to change. This is why Paul said avoid such men as these. Paul was evangelistic, but these people, in their arrogance, are not open to listening, learning or changing. A little knowledge makes them dangerous. They know just enough to speak the lingo, but not enough to change their hearts. About all that can be done is to pray. Pray for a changed heart. Pray for humbleness. Pray for God’s patience with them. It’s hard to think that some people just need to be left alone, but there are some just like that. They aren’t ugly street thugs. Many are in the corporate world. Many are in Hollywood. Many are in political offices. Their arrogance and indifferent hearts has allowed them to step on others to climb that ladder of social success. Now, they look down upon others. They view position, power and finances to be the keys of life. Some of these fill the halls of universities and teach our young people. They wouldn’t change for anything. They believe they are going places and Christianity is certainly not something that they need. Not now, not ever. But when a crisis comes, they will publically say that “our prayers are with you,” even though they haven’t prayed in decades.
Finally, what we see in this is that the world hasn’t changed much. There were fakes back then and there are fakes today. There were people playing a game back then, just as there are people playing games today. There were people who were hurting the church then, just as there are people hurting the church today. Not much has changed.
We must be sure that we are doing much more than just holding a form of godliness. We must be true inside and out. We must have the word of God richly dwelling within us. That will make all the difference in the world.