People in the last days
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. 2 Timothy 3:1-2
The last days are often spoken about in the Bible. They refer to the period in which we now live, the age of the Spirit. In the prophecy of Joel, we hear God saying that in the last days, he would “pour out my Spirit upon all people” (Joel 2:24). In Acts 2:17, Peter declared that this was being fulfilled on the Day of the Pentecost. There is no doubt that this was a very challenging time for God’s people; it is interesting that, at the heart of Paul’s description of this period, was the destructive effect of money.
Jesus often reflected on the significance of money. It is important to emphasise that there is nothing inherently evil about it. Money is ultimately part of God’s creation but, in common with all his gifts, what matters is how we handle it. When it is well used, it can be an incredible blessing. When it is abused, it can be a complete curse.
Paul’s declaration that people would love only themselves and their money is terrifying, because it deliberately pushes God out. And when God is removed from life, the most terrible things inevitably result. Relationships are torn apart and society is on a certain path to disintegration. The verses that follow give an alarming description of that. Paul declares that people “will be unloving and unforgiving, they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God” (2 Timothy 3:3-4).
The punch line of this passage is the most frightening. Paul says that people will act religiously, “but they will reject the power that could make them godly” (2 Timothy 3:5). Attending church, singing hymns and praying to God will not, by themselves, change us. It is possible to be fully involved in church activities and yet live in a way that is opposed to God. What matters is that we are driven by a love for God before anything else. That needs to the driving force behind all that we think, say and do.
Paul described people in the last days as being lovers of themselves and money. Is that a fair description of people today?
Lord God, help me always to love you before anything else. Amen