When we were kids, our parents often gave us good advice – even if we didn’t appreciate it at the time. You know these and you may have offered them to your own children:
– Look both ways before you cross the street
– Don’t put things in the electric socket
– Don’t touch the stove
– Never talk to strangers
I did, one time, put a paperclip in the electric socket . . . one time, and one time only. . .
Not surprisingly, the Bible offers such advice to us as well. The Apostle Paul, writing as a mentor to his young protégé Timothy, makes it very plain:
Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
I know this warning is true because I ran into all these personality flaws at my last ministerial association meeting! (OK, just most of them.)
Seriously though, Paul’s warning is as timely now as it was in the first century. Not sure what your thoughts on the timing of the apocalypse are, but I think it’s safe to say that you’ve experienced a societal slouch towards an ever increasing volume of these personality traits lately. Perhaps worse, some seem to be gaining acceptance as appropriate behavior. Some are even promoted as tools to use on your way up the ladder of success!
I believe God calls us to buck these societal trends: to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentile, and self-controlled. (See Galatians 5:22-23) We are called to be salt in a flavorless world and light in the midst of societal darkness; to love our enemies and to do good to those who try to hurt us; to take the narrow path in life rather than the wide one; to serve rather than to be served.
So don’t be naïve. There are difficult times ahead. They can be made significantly easier, however, if you stay clear of the people whose personality traits are designed to bring them the greatest gain and to destroy you.
Besides, what would your mommy think?
Pressing on toward the goal . . .