|December 2nd||December 3rd||December 4th||December 5th||December 6th||December 7th||December 8th|
|New Testament||1 Timothy 4||1 Timothy 5||1 Timothy 6||2 Timothy 1||2 Timothy 2||2 Timothy 3||2 Timothy 4|
|Old Testament||Ezekiel 29-30|
|2 Kings 25|
2 Chronicles 36
|Jeremiah 42-44||Lamentations 1-2|
The Apostle Paul begins 2 Timothy 3 with an action word: Understand. Such language reflects Paul’s style and, I think, character as a person of action. “Understand that in the last days, there will be terrible times…” In the days Timothy received this letter, life was not easy. First Century Christian life in the Roman world shifted from uneasy toleration to violent persecution.
Look at this text in the Truth Translation New Testament.
Understand that in the last days there will be terrible times, for men will fall in love with themselves and with money. They will be boastful and arrogant. They will blaspheme against God. Be disobedient to their parents. Be ungrateful and unholy and without proper love. They will be impossible to please and will slander others. They will not exercise self-control themselves, nor will it be possible for others to control them. They will hate what is good, betray the trust others place in them, and will act in reckless and conceited ways. In short, they will live for their own pleasure rather than to please God. (2 Timothy 3:1-4)
In the twenty-first century, Paul’s verse 4 summary easily applies: “…In short, they will live for their own pleasure rather than to please God.” Open a news app, and it will not be hard to find an item that is rooted in selfishness. In the past two decades, we have witnessed a decline in social morals. Paul’s writing to Timothy sounds like an accurate summary of today.
Paul isn’t permitting Timothy, nor us, to complain about this slide in the world’s behavior. He says, in verse 10, “However, you are aware of my teaching, the way I believe, the purpose for which I live, my faith, patience, love, and endurance.” Paul points outside to the world and tells us what we can expect from it. Then he reminds Timothy of 5 things:
We could dive into a study on each of these but look at what Paul tells Timothy to do when he sees things getting worse. “But you are to continue in what you have learned and have believed, knowing from whom you learned these things.” (v14) In the face of everyone in the world living for themselves, Paul says, “Continue.”
Peggy Noonan, an American speechwriter, said, “Part of courage is simple consistency.” What is the proper response to a world that seems to grow worse and worse? Continue. Continue to grow and develop in faith, patience, and love. Let us take Paul’s instruction, live with purpose.