Paul shares with Timothy a list of attitudes and behaviors in people to be on the lookout for. Although we pray that God saves all, some are going to refuse Him. Those that do, on a continual basis, Paul says to “avoid such people” (verse 5b).
Paul starts by saying “that in the last days” (verse 1) these kinds of people will be visible. The last days started at Pentecost and continue until Jesus’ final return. We definitely fit that timeframe. And we certainly see many examples of these attitudes lived out today in our societies.
Some of these attitudes are easier to spot than others. Arrogant, brutal, heartless, treacherous, reckless and swollen with conceit are some of the more obvious traits in people we are to avoid. Having the appearance of godliness but denying its power, unholy, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, and not loving good may be harder to identify. At some point or other I think we all would have been included in this list. The difference though is between “visiting” the list and “living” there.
So how do you “avoid such people” when we live and work with them every day? We can’t hide in a bubble and stay protected. We have to interact with people holding these attitudes in our daily lives. I’m not a biblical expert, but I have a couple of ideas on this subject.
First, don’t buy into their attitudes. You might have to be in their physical presence but you don’t have to get sucked into their behaviors and attitudes. If my boss is “heartless” to others I counter that by being kind to those in the wake of that behavior. If my brother is ungrateful, I make sure to thank those around me, even for things they have done for him that he has neglected to appreciate. I don’t excuse their behavior but I don’t ignore it either. I counter it with godly behavior.
Second, I distance myself as much as possible. I may have to work with these people or even live with some, but I don’t choose to socialize with them or bring them into my “inner circle.” I find friends who share my belief in God and attitudes to spend my time with. When looking for a life partner, CHOOSE WISELY. Look beyond the exterior and notice the attitudes being portrayed. (I should have taken my own advice on this but that was a younger and much less wiser me. Probably more arrogant too.)
Third, it is NOT your job to fix these people. It is theirs. God would welcome them with open arms IF they would turn to Him, but MANY won’t. Pray for them anyway; or at least those with whom you have to associate. As long as they are living there is a chance. Love them best by leaving them in God’s hands.
Father God, it is not easy living in a world that denies You. It’s excruciating watching my children adapt that same attitude. I KNOW You have the ability to reach out and ‘smack them upside the head’ and get their attention. But out of love You refrain. I also KNOW that You have the ability to send just the right person into their lives to bring them back to the truth. That is what I’m asking, again, for You to do. I don’t know if they are “living” on the list Paul shared but I do see some of those attitudes occasionally; especially lovers of pleasure rather than loves of God. I’m sorry for their attitudes. I’m sorry they are hurting You. I’m sorry they are hurting. I wish I could fix it. But, once again, I leave them in Your hands. Lord Jesus, send just the right person into their lives to heal their broken hearts. Protect mine from any influence they may try to exert against You. THANK YOU for the evidence I see in their children that speaks of the respect they have for our relationship. I LOVED it when Cailyn asked to pray before eating when Papa forgot. Thank You for when Jared reminded Damion to wait quietly while Papa prayed for our meal. That speaks volumes to me of what they see modeled in our lives! That also speaks of their parent’s love for us and care in instilling that same love in them. Thank You for their tender hearts; in both generations!