Why are we facing times of difficulty?

Paul tells us in his letter to Timothy that “Times of difficulty will come” (2 Tim. 3:1). Why? “For people will be…” People will be a lot of things… There are nineteen descriptions given.

It’s interesting to note that four of the nineteen descriptions are compounded with love. People will be “lovers of self, lovers of money,… not loving good,… lovers of pleasure” than it says, “rather than lovers of God.” These people love but it’s the wrong love. “What is fundamentally wrong with these people is that their love is misdirected.”[1]

When people are “proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, treacherous, reckless, and swollen with conceit” it is because of a worship problem. It is because they love themselves and not God.

Of course, that makes sense if we think about it. If someone just loves money and themselves then how are they going to act towards others? Do you think they’ll be compassionate and kind? Do you think they will put you before themselves? No! That wouldn’t make any sense for them! It’s no surprise that someone who loves themself the most would be “proud, arrogant, abusive.” It’s sad but true.

So, what kind of world would that create when people lived like that? When people are “lovers of self”? A very sad and very mad one.

God, however, has something else in mind for us. God wants us to love Him and love others. That’s actually the Great Commandment. And the Great Commandment when lived out makes for a great world.

John Stott, reminds us that “Only the gospel offers a radical solution to this problem. For only the gospel promises a new birth or new creation which involves being turned inside out, from self to unself, a real reorientation of mind and conduct, and which makes us fundamentally God-centered instead of self-centered. Then, when God is first and self is last, we love the world God loves and seek to give and serve like him.”[2]


[1] Ibid., 84. “All this unsocial, antisocial behavior—this disobedient, ungrateful, disrespectful, inhuman attitude to parents, together with this absence of restrain, loyalty, prudence and humility—is the inevitable consequence of godless self-centeredness. The root of the trouble in the last days is that [humans] are ‘utterly self-centered’” (John Stott with Lin Johnson, 2 Timothy: Standing Firm in Truth, 36).

[2] Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, 86.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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