First Things First

But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people! 2 Timothy 3:1-5 HCSB

As a youth pastor I cautioned teenagers to be careful regarding their selection of friends and with whom they spent time. As much as we hope that the good will rub off on the bad, history tells us that the bad usually rubs off on the good. It has been said, “One bad apple spoils the bunch.” I have observed students who were raised in loving homes with Christian parents and who were taught properly make bad choices and select bad friends.

Paul warned Timothy to avoid people who were self-absorbed, seeking their own interests, loved having more possessions, did not have any humility, scoffed at God, disobeyed their parents, had an ungrateful attitude, were unforgiving, lacked self-control, spread rumors, and where lovers of pleasure instead of lovers of God. What a list of negative traits! These same traits can be found in many people today. In another Scripture we, as believers, are challenged to be in the world but not of the world. We must share the Good News with a lost and dying world, but we must be careful with whom we associate lest we become like them.

Challenge: Be careful with whom you associate on a regular basis. The characteristics of ungodly people will have an impact on your life. Take the message of Jesus to your work associates, friends, relatives and neighbors. Set a good example by doing what is opposite of the list of negative characteristics found in these verses.

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