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.

First Things First

The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 HCSB

As a part of my job working for the Missouri Baptist Convention I traveled around the state speaking, preaching, and leading conferences. One of the topics of conversation among fellow workers was the “speed traps” that were located across the state. Many times there were policemen in hidden locations where they could catch people driving faster than the speed limit and issue a citation. Usually the speed limit would drop drastically and unless one knew the speed limit was changing, there was not enough time to slow down. That is when the blue lights would begin to flash and the driver would know he had been caught speeding.

The Devil is always trying to catch people. It started with Eve and continues today. The Devil always tells lies and will try to deceive. He makes us believe that if only we make a certain decision or possess the latest gadget, we will feel contented and successful. The reality is that when we follow the temptations of the Devil we will usually find ourselves in a trap of lies and deception. The Devil is very crafty and always makes sin look attractive, but once we take the first bite of sin we realize it is bitter. Next we experience feelings of guilt and depression.

Challenge: Beware of the Devil’s traps. He has set his traps and is hiding, just waiting to catch you. He roams around like a lion looking for whom He may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Pray that God will give you the strength to resist the temptations of the Devil.