“Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money…unloving…lovers of pleasure instead of God. Holding to a form of godliness…” (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
versus
“God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16).

Several years ago, many books were written on the subject of learning to love yourself, which 2 Timothy 3 prophesizes as a part of the end times. This theme gave birth to numerous classes, conferences and a general acceptance among psychotherapists. Today, this position is accepted by many as an axiom (i.e., emotional problems are to be treated by helping patients to learn to love and accept themselves as this will unlock many locked doors that contain trauma, insecurity, abuse). Although this approach has insight, it is incomplete.

During the days that this self-love position gained such wide-spread acceptance, I can’t remember reading or hearing once that loving yourself can be related to a person becoming unloving (perhaps the audience didn’t want to hear this). I found that if a person primarily stresses loving themselves, they can easily lose the needed focus upon the needs of others, and the vulnerable trust that is being freely given.

Me First:
From this “me first” approach came many self-centered thoughts and behaviors such as the examples of many parents who felt that they needed better partners to feel good and to learn to love themselves. They felt that what was good for them must be good for the children in spite of the trauma the children had to go through as they were threatening, and often destroying, what the children had been trusting in; their family’s security. They destroyed what is the foundation of much of a child’s emotional security and hope for the future. Further, the divorce rate skyrocketed. Often, the children spent years recovering from the domestic trauma.

This unbalanced scenario is still commonly practiced today by both deceived mothers and fathers. This scenario is actually a deception. It is: a “scheme of the devil” (Eph. 6:11); which “the father of lies” (John 8:44) invented. God’s children are to love Him with all their heart, soul and mind (Matt.22:37), and this love is to be the foundation that all a Christian’s love is to grow from. This powerful love is self-sacrificing. Christmas is the great example of self-sacrificing love.

The Contrast of Christmas Love:
Christmas is the ultimate display of Almighty God’s love. The reason for Christmas grows from mankind’s spiritual condition of being separated from God by man’s nature and sins. John 3:16 is the essential Christmas verse as it says: “God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Godly love has selfless love at its core.

A Parent’s Job:
Even as a father’s job includes protecting and providing for his family; a mother’s job includes putting her children’s emotional satisfaction above her own (at least most of the time). She is to feel with a mother’s heart: “I could never put them through that” when she has to choose between a better personal life and divorce. Inspired thoughts on this subject include: “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands” (Prov. 14:1). “Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet I will not forsake thee” (Isa.49:15). A father needs to remember “To keep you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart” (Prov. 6:24-25). “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them” (Col. 3:19).

Curing Impossible Deficiencies:
Heart rending deficiencies in a couple’s personal life can usually be remediated with heartfelt honest and realistic counseling that has the Lord’s friendship and sufficiency as the foundation. The choice as to what is the most important determines the outcome. Life is not the pursuit of earthy perfection. God’s children must pursue confession, forgiveness and love for their families, and abide in their Savior’s love (which comes from obeying His commandments, John 15:10). There is no love that satisfies as much as the personal relationship with Jesus. Pleasure is gone in a moment; eternity is everlasting; and, seeing that God is love (1 John 4:8). He can understand and help us put our emotional and sexual needs in perspective.

Simple behaviors such as taking up jogging instead of affairs have saved many marriages and enabled abiding in His love, which is so deeply satisfying that it passes all understanding (Phil. 4:6-7). When in need, talk to Jesus about your personal needs. Don’t feel that is too carnal, He loves you and understands.

Don’t feel you have no responsibility. Make the effort to treat your mate as a friend that you often touch, have fun with, and tell them how much you value them- keep doing this until you break the concrete dams you have built. Make the effort to put them first and find something to laugh about every day. Pray and start studying what the Bible says about forgiveness, marriage and abiding in fellowship with Jesus. It is often hard to humble our hearts when we are bitter toward our mate, even before the Lord. I’m convinced that a bitter spirit often comes from a person being demonized or influenced by demons. God’s children are taught to say, “The Lord rebuke you in the name and blood of Christ” as many times as necessary (Jude 9), and “he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

It is not a fantasy that couples can fall back into love- it happens all the time.

Lovers Who Do Not Love:
“Lovers of…” is mentioned by the Spirit of God three times in these verses: “lovers of themselves” and “lovers of money” (v. 2); and “lovers of pleasure” (v. 4). As money is not bad in itself unless it is placed in an idolatrous position; neither is “the self” bad unless it becomes the center of a person’s life. These are lovers who are unloving in the sense that they love themselves, pleasure, and things more than they do others.

These “lovers” are said to be “unloving” (v. 3). This unloving quality comes from their not being; “lovers of God” (v. 4). God’s love gives, is merciful, and is kind. God’s love is not self-centered even though His essence is love (1 John 4:8). The Holy Spirit’s first fruit, which He produces through believers, is “love” (Gal.5: 22). He is holy (Rev. 4:8) and therefore has to judge sinful behavior (1 Cor. 5:13). However, He always is loving and concerned about others needs and trust (Phil. 4:19). He is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9). He has made a way for sin to be washed away (Ps. 51:2). He has made a way of victory over our pain, fear and needs (Phil. 4:6-7). Many forget that what is good for us is God’s will and purpose (Rom. 12:2). Also, He is our Lord and He will never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). He remembers that we are “dust” (Ps. 103:14). We must remember Jesus was tempted and is able to come to our aid when we “are tempted” (Heb. 2:18).

Our children trust us to never leave them or forsake them and destroy the security of the family that we built.

The Religion of Lovers Who Do Not Love:
Another startling fact that is given in passage (2 Tim. 3:2-5) is that those who incorrectly love and primarily love themselves actually have a religion (“holding to a form of godliness”v. 5) (Greek: “Holding to a religion”). The most common name given to this religion is “Secular Humanism,” which may be the religion with the most members that believe in and follow its teaching.

What is “Secular Humanism”? Webster’s New World Dictionary defines secular as “worldly, not connected with a church.” Humanism is defined as “any system of thought based on the interests and ideals of humanity.”  Secular Humanism is a system of thought (a philosophy based on the ideas of humanity rather than the manual for life—the Bible), that has permeated all aspects of society, even the church. It is identified when ideas are held that contradict what the Spirit of God states in the Word of God—the Bible. Mankind’s thoughts, inventions etc. are not bad in themselves. Neither is humanism actually, unless it is accepted by faith as providing the answers to subjects such as morality and what lies after death. In that case it becomes a religion.

Secular Humanism the religion that many trust in to provide the answers to life, morality, and spirituality, is a system described in the Bible in the words: “All that is in the world, the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of ownership is passing away, but the Word of the Lord abides forever” (1 John 2:16).

Watch TV and learn what is emphasized by this world-system (food, sex, wealth, greed, ownership). Without Jesus and God’s inspired instructions and insights, mankind is left solely with man’s interpretations and the lusts of the flesh. Without Jesus, people are by nature men dead men walking, or zombies (Eph. 2:1-4). Zombies are an example of being concerned about personal cravings; without concern about the well-being of others. In one sense, zombies are an example of someone loving themselves.

Lovers of this world’s system are lovers that do not love. They are primarily self-centered even in the love they give. This does not surprise experienced adults, and it certainly does not surprise Almighty God. They do not live in Christmas love.

Determine to be a lover who loves with God’s love flowing through you. Oh, the joys that come when we are a channel of warm Christmas love day by day, all the year through.

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