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WE DO WELL to ask ourselves what is most important to us—our views of the world or God's.

When Paul wrote to Timothy—his younger protégé and partner in ministry—he told Timothy there would be troublesome times in the last days. In addressing those times, The New Living Translation of the Bible calls them “difficult.” The translators of the King James Version used the word “perilous.”

Mankind has been living through troublesome times for many years. But as years continue to pass since Paul wrote to Timothy, the time in which you and I live is becoming increasingly perilous.

Note some of Paul’s words written long ago and how they relate to today’s world:

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! (2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT)

There is far from enough space in this article to address in detail all of these words shared with Timothy. But they can be easily understood by any thoughtful person taking the time to read them. And they're serious, because they reflect so much the attitudes and actions of a vast number of people today.

It takes no stretch of imagination to understand how such attitudes and actions lead to real trouble. And it should concern all of us—right now.

Elsewhere in Scripture we read of increasing natural disasters—like earthquakes and storms—pointing to the end times. But here in Paul’s message, it’s all about what people will be like in the last days and what they will do to affect, not the environment, but other people who share the earth with them.

Regardless of what some people seem to indicate, while humans can negatively affect the environment by mismanaging and trashing the world around them, we are relatively limited in our power to affect nature compared to the power we have to affect others who live in this world.

Self-centered, ungrateful, and reckless people do their most destructive work to lives, not the environment.

Of course we can do a lot of damage to the environment over time through careless actions, but what we can do in that regard is dwarfed by the damage we can do in short order to our families, our workplaces, our churches, and our society. And as we look around today, what’s going on in our world illustrates clearly that there seems to be no limit whatsoever to how attitudes and actions can really mess things up.

If people will stop trying to destroy history instead of actually learning it (and learning from it), quit living only to push their personal, hateful agendas, and stop ignoring their own hurtful attitudes and lack of respect that will surely negatively affect our tomorrows if they are not changed, they will be able to recognize the truth about how Paul’s words relate to our world and its future.

But of course self-consumed people look no farther than to their own lives to define their world and find rules to live by. And as I write this, my confidence that the majority of them will indeed change and be able to do otherwise is pretty low. But we can still hope and pray for that to happen.

The people Paul described are completely preoccupied with themselves and their own desires. They define the meaning of life and a sense of personal responsibility only by how they see themelves and the world around them. And they ignore the worth of others, whom they minimize and openly berate.

Such views and attitudes inevitably give birth to a selfish and skewed understanding of the world and lead such people to reject the most basic meanings of respect and morality. And it's inevitable that left unchecked and unchanged,  those views and attitudes will eventually lead to the disruption of societal order.

Without a doubt, left unchecked, the chaotic breakdown of respect and concern for others can lead only to strife and, yes, difficult, perilous times.

Paul wrote as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. He was sharing God's view of the world. We ignore that view at our own peril, because God sees things the way they really are.

Today, as God looks down on the world—our world—He has every right to be upset. But He still would rather heal, revive, and restore rather than afflict, judge, and destroy. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14 NLT)

Forgiveness and restoration has forever been God's first inclination toward man. But now, all too many—including many who claim to know God—are not even trying to see things through His eyes. And as long as that condition persists, the results of what Paul warned Timothy about will increasingly be played out before ours.


L. Edward Hazelbaker
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