Wednesday
Jan282009

Lovers

The Holy Spirit identified four types of lovers in Paul’s second letter to young Timothy and all were passionate and intense.

Like the Lord’s parable of the seeds, however, three are misguided and doomed, while only one is righteous and hopeful (see Matthew 13:18-23).

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money … not loving good … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (3:1-5). 

“Last days” has New Testament reference to mankind’s final epoch upon the Earth, an era that has now numbered almost 730,000 of them (see Acts 2:17, First Timothy 4:1). These troublesome times, then, are not necessarily a sign that Judgment Day is imminent, but that an age of peril has engulfed us, threatening the faithfulness of all men. 

Jesus taught that your heart would always belong to your treasure. Your passions, priorities and ambitions will always reveal where your affections are centered – regardless of what you might say or the costume you might wear. As much as he expects his disciples to love God and other people more than anything else, misplaced affections frequently expose hearts that are foreign to heaven (see Acts 8:14-24).

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31). 

Jesus taught that God would not share the throne in our hearts with anyone or anything else – that before he would slide over for some idol, he would leave altogether (Matthew 6:19-24). “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (First John 1:5-6).

It is not exactly shocking how often love for God, goodness and other people is harmed by the things Paul identified – love of self, money and pleasure. Every vice, every indulgence, every act of selfishness, disrespect and dishonesty is rooted in misplaced affections. Love of self puts God second and others somewhere else. Love of money is materialistic idolatry (see Colossians 3:5). Love of pleasure offers weak justifications for sinful experimentation and habitual transgression. The sinner begins to call good, evil, and evil, good. Ethics and convictions get jumbled and confused and then are explained away into oblivion.

Remember, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9).