A Form of Godliness (Part I)

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2Timothy 3:1-5

We do live in perilous times where people are becoming more and more lovers of themselves, yet they profess to be spiritual or even Christian! Things around us are getting darker, but people profess to be more spiritual! Paul accurately prophesies that in the last days self will be placed on the throne! We see that to be true in our lifetime. Self is worshipped by meeting its various demands. We want perfection on our exterior by focusing on building a beautiful body, dressing in designer’s clothes, having a perfect-looking house, and driving luxury cars . We love to indulge ourselves because we believe we are worth it!  The social media and our Iphones give us the opportunity to take selfies, post pictures, and show the world how great and wonderful we are! The problem with feeding the carnal self is that it is a wild beast that becomes more demanding in nature over time. It is only temporarily satisfied with our indulgence and them it craves for more!

When we are focused on serving self, it comes at the cost of neglecting our relationship with the Lord and our relationship with others. When people become lovers of themselves, that becomes the gateway to all other evil such as being lovers of money, boasters,  proud, and blasphemers. The book of Proverbs tells us that pride brings about strife. This means pride eventually leads to breakdown of relationships.

In addition, loving ourselves causes us to become disobedient, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, headstrong, etc. We begin to look down on others and develop a self-righteous standard that no one can meet. Our standard of satisfaction becomes so high that we cannot tolerate any imperfection and have no mercy on the ones who don’t treat us the way we deserve!

Some of us may wonder why loving ourselves is so bad.  Jesus instructed the people to love their neighbors as themselves, which would infer that we must love ourselves first. Jesus’ commandment preceded by the commandment to first love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. When we are committed to loving God this way, He remains on the throne of our hearts. What we want or desire takes a backseat to what God says about it. We don’t use “if”s and “but”s to justify our position or disobedience. Instead, we look to the Lord for direction and instruction in righteousness. This causes us to love ourselves the right way by feeding ourselves the good food of the Bible and ensure that we are growing and maturing in the faith. We also know that when God says “no” to something, it is for our best. We don’t have to pout, complain, or gossip because we didn’t get our way. When we love ourselves according to God’s ways, then we can appropriately love our neighbor as ourselves!

It is easy to look at the culture or even other Christian groups and agree with the words of Paul in the above scripture, but the world is looking to us for genuine faith that makes a difference in life and in conduct. How are we perceived by others!? Do they see us as gentle, kind, loving, and forgiving? Or do they consider us unloving, unforgiving, headstrong, and haughty? Are we only loving towards those who treat us well or are we able to rise above our own emotions and do good to all?  The world is looking for hope, and we are called to share the hope by our speech, conduct, and attitude and represent Him well on this earth!

I will continue with this subject in the next devotional.