The Baton of Discernment
1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. —2 Timothy 3:1-5
Last December, the tragic loss at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut resulted in the deaths of 20 children and 6 adults. This isn’t the first time this has happened. We think, What is going on in our world? How do we explain such things? How can this be? Where is God in all of this?
When questions like these fill my head or others look to me for answers, I turn my Bible to 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Why? Because this passage provides the backdrop for what is really happening in our world. It details the downward spiral of mankind and the plight of our sin-stained society. Notice verse 1 says in the “last days there will come times of difficulty.” The translated word difficulty literally means violent and dangerous. Not nice, calm, pain-free, and perfect. No; chaotic, hectic, and turbulent. Notice in the verse it doesn’t say these days “might come,” or “could come,” rather it says they “will come.”
Are we in the “last days?” The answer is yes. Last days refers to the time in between Christ’s first and second coming. So how far in are we? No one knows precisely, because the exact time and date of His future arrival is unknown to man. How are we to live then? We are called to live each day as if it was our last. In football terms, it’s like we are in the final two minutes of the game. Now that is not a call to act irresponsibly. No, it’s a call to be responsible, to be wise, and to be discerning. Is that true of you? Are you stewarding the time, talents, and treasures God has allotted to you on a daily basis for greater eternal impact? That is what the wise and discerning person does.
We must be careful to avoid the spiritual downfall that results from spiritual stagnation and seek spiritual transformation. One Christian writer says it like this, “The church is not a theological classroom; it is a conversion, confession, repentance, reconciliation, forgiveness, and sanctification center, where flawed people place their faith in Christ and gather to know and love Him better and learn to love others as He has designed.” Unfortunately, tragedy is on our horizon, but fortunately, our hope is in Christ’s promises and return. Our goal is to remain faithful, helping others to embrace and live in His grace and truth. —Ron Zappia
Father in heaven, thank You for the promise I have in You. Give me the strength to live my life daily for You, sacrificing my wants and desires for how You would have me live my life. Make in me a clean heart daily, as this world is full of sin and filth. Help me to continually remember to wash my sins away by repentance and through Your promise of forgiveness. Thank You for giving me the power of the Holy Spirit to resist the evil around me. Help me to be a light in this dark place. In Jesus’ name, Amen.