We tend to shake our heads at evil, but what about us being the opposite instead? How are we measuring up?
The second letter to Timothy can be a scathing commentary on culture in its listing of everything that’s wrong. I got a thesaurus and made a contrasting list. Virtue against vice. What would the world look like if people were that virtuous?
How many of these describe you or your culture?
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
Let’s look at these one at a time, checking what applies:
- narcissistic and self-focused
- impelled by greed
- disobedient to parents
- devoid of natural human affection, calloused, inhumane (sociopathic)
- malicious gossips
- intemperate and immoral, lacking self-control
- haters of good
- lovers of sensual pleasures rather than God
- hold a form of outward religion, though their conduct nullifies their claim to faith
It would be so easy to launch into a social commentary on the sins of the world. I’m doing the harder thing by challenging you to be the opposite of this list.
Imagine the world…
Where instead of being focused on themselves, people focused on others. They were generous rather than greedy or stingy. Instead of bragging, they were humble, so much so that no one could accuse them of arrogance.
Rather than lashing out and abusing someone, people were respectful. Not holding a grudge, but forgiving. They didn’t have unfeeling sociopathic tendencies, instead loving others.
They were grateful, holy, and moral. They praised others rather tearing them down. Acting with self-control instead of impulsive emotion. This leading to them being humane and kind, lovers of good, honest and loyal. Living responsible lives, and not reckless and conceited ones.
They loved God more than what He made, taking their pleasure in that relationship, discovering a joy they had never known. Truly being holy and virtuous 24/7 rather than an hour on Sunday, if at all.
How would you respond to a person like that? Answer it.
I challenge you to be a person like that.
It’s convicting, isn’t it? I’m not all of these myself. Here’s the good news, they fall under two commandments: love God with all you have and love others as yourself. That would truly make Christianity a bright light in the darkness.
The catch is you cannot sustain it. How can someone truly be holy and virtuous? It isn’t humanly possible.
It is supernaturally possible. When you’re saved, the Holy Spirit begins to work in you, and the closer you are to God, the more that work grows and is seen. Christian maturity is measured by the Fruit of the Spirit and how much of it is evident in their lives.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
That’s what makes the above possible, keeping in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). Now go be the change.