BY Debbie Eaton
Text: 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Ephesians 5:15-17
But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days.
– 2 Timothy 3:1, HCSB
I recently had a conversation with a young woman who resigned from her job at a coffee shop. When I asked why she left, her answer surprised and saddened me. She said she could not take another day of rude, entitled and demanding customers. She was weary of being yelled at several times a day and frustrated by the lack of respect for people who were working hard to make sure orders were correct. She told me it was rare to have a customer show any appreciation and it was affecting her ability to see good in people.
I walked away from that conversation wondering at how uncivil we can be to one another in our self-centered ways. But the truth is, the problem goes much deeper than our behavior—the root of our actions is in our hearts.
It is interesting how accurately the list of behaviors Paul warns Timothy about describe our society today. Even more disturbing are the warnings about those who have the outward appearance of being a Christian, yet their actions do not align with God’s ways. They have the behavior of a believer, but that behavior is not rooted in a believing heart. Going to church, attending a bible study, using Christian clichés, listening to worship music, following religious rules—it’s all meaningless when done just for show. Like God said to Samuel in the 1 Samuel 16:7, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
As followers of Jesus, you and I are to be courageous, intentional and resilient in seeking God’s truth and desiring His will for our lives. We do this by remaining prayerfully in God’s Word. His Word equips for the day! His Word protects, encourages and gives wisdom. When we lean into His wisdom and goodness rather than manufacturing our own, we can walk with confidence—even in the midst of those difficult times Scripture promises we’ll encounter. When we anchor ourselves in God’s truth, it changes the way we see and respond to the people and situations around us.
In Ephesians 5:15-16, Paul encourages believers to make the most of the time they have, carefully walking in the ways of the Gospel “because the days are evil.” You and I don’t have to follow suit and join in the chorus of God-denying behavior Paul warns against in his letters. We can show kindness and gentleness, love and honor, outwardly living the inward hope we have in Jesus!
We’re given 100+ hours a week to live like the Gospel is true, 100+ hours to demonstrate the merciful exchanges we’ve experienced because of Jesus—kindness for cruelty, generosity for greed, humility for self-promotion, love for hate.
And it all starts here, with humble hearts knee-deep in God’s Word, submitting our will to His and deepening our roots in His truth.