“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. . . always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 7)
Doesn’t that sound a lot like today? You know the part that strikes at my heart? “Having a form of godliness but denying its power, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Form without substance. A mere shadow of what is real. It’s not how I want to be described, though I can think of times when it might have described me all too well. How about you?
Paul’s advice to young Timothy is also a timely warning for us too. Like Paul, our lives are supposed to be marked by “purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings.” Otherwise, how else will we be ready when things get much worse? If we do not take seriously God’s purpose driven call on our lives now, when times are good, how in the world will we stand firm when real persecution comes our way?
But beyond suffering, there’s to be power. Power to face difficulties, power to rise above our circumstances, to live a transformed life, fully awake to the purpose to which God calls us. Paul’s earlier writing says that power comes upon us when we receive the Holy Spirit in our lives, the Spirit of Jesus who guides us throughout each day. That same Spirit speaks wisdom to us through God’s inspired Word. This same Word equips us both for the battles we’re about to face and also for the good work to which he calls us.
Sadly, too many live powerless lives, playing the victim more than the victor, trying to do good but always falling short. That’s not the way we’re intended to live. God’s design and desire is to equip us with his power for living well and on purpose.
If we insist, he will let us waste our lives in meaningless pursuits, with no need for his great power. But his good intent is that our lives be abundant and full, marked by power for victorious living, equipped for his purpose and his good plan for our lives. The key is found reading and applying his Word and following his Spirit’s leading, even through difficult times. But the choice is ours. How do you want to live today?