Today, I saw second Timothy chapter 3 with greater understanding. The whole chapter speaks into the contrast between those who "love pleasure" and those who "love God." Those who love pleasure are said to
- Love only themselves and their money
- Be unloving and unforgiving
- Slander others
- Be unforgiving
- Be cruel
- Hate what is good
- Betray their friends
- Be reckless
- Be prideful
The passage goes on to describe even more dangers of those who love pleasure. Yet, even as I write and study these words I am aware of the duplicity in myself. On the one hand, I love God and in many ways live my life according to this orientation; and then there are the times when I reveal my own selfishness and my own love of pleasure. I daresay we are all in the same predicament if we claim that we love God. I struggle to "love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, and all my mind; and to love my neighbor as myself." (Luke 10:27) You struggle as well. How can we possibly "love our neighbour as we love ourselves?" I can't even love my neighbour as well as I love my dog! (if I had a dog).
But the insight of the day for me is about a foundational aspect of the motivation behind those who love pleasure. It is found in verse two: "They will consider nothing sacred." (2 Timothy 3:2; NLT) If we consider nothing sacred, then we cannot love God. For all is sacred in God's economy. Creation is sacred, life is sacred, my dog is sacred, my neighbour is sacred, my children are sacred, that mosquito that annoys me on a warm summer evening is sacred, making love with my wife is sacred, the work I do in the sciences is sacred, the work I do in philosophy is sacred, and yes, even the work I do in theology is sacred. Those who are on a trajectory away from the love of God consider nothing sacred. Those who are on a trajectory toward loving God consider all things sacred. Selah.