Priorities and Lifestyle Choices

What we choose to love

Confined to a Roman prison because of his faith, Paul predicted that “difficult times will come,” citing the kinds of people who will make the difficult times so difficult.

Among them are “lovers of self, lovers of money . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-2, 4).

As William Barclay so well stated, “The moment a man makes his own will and his own desires the center of life, divine and human relationships are destroyed . . . . All sin begins in selfishness” (The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, 211).

How we choose to live

The new life Christ offers us is the very opposite of me-centeredness.

Paul had discovered in his own experience that Christ’s way is the only way that gives true meaning and purpose to our brief time on earth (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Selfishness is a dead end. Serving Christ leads to eternal glory!

Three times in his letter to Timothy, Paul uses a short Greek phrase (σὺ δὲ), variously translated by the New American Standard Bible as “Now you,” “You, however,” and “But you” (3:10, 14: 4:5).

In all three of these cases Paul has just described those who “oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith” (3:8), “evil men and imposters [who] will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (3:13), and those “who will turn their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (4:4).

Paul then urges Timothy to follow his example (3:10-12), hold to the truth of God’s inspired Word (3:14-17), and to “endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (4:5).

Our choice

Some have noted the contrast between those “who have loved His [Christ’s] appearing” (4:8) and Paul’s errant co-worker Demas, who “having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica . . .” (4:8, 10). When Christ someday appears, will Demas be pleased with what he chose to love?

So we must choose between mutually-exclusive priorities leading to diametrically-opposed lifestyles, ending in polar-opposite outcomes.

Me first or Christ first. Which?


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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Six Great Truths About Jesus Christ

Distilled truth

“By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: / He who was revealed in the flesh, / Was vindicated in the Spirit, / Seen by angels, / Proclaimed among the nations, / Believed on in the world, / Taken up to glory” (1 Timothy 3:16).

This concise, one-verse summary of the greatness of Jesus Christ is obviously not the complete picture revealed in more detail in the New Testament, but what it does say should be enough to fill us with wonder.

A life-changing message

Consider who wrote this. At one time he did not believe a word of it. More than that, he violently opposed those who did believe it.

But all that changed suddenly and dramatically when the glorified Christ appeared to His arch-enemy Saul as he was on his way to arrest more Christians.

Three days later he was baptized, and soon the gospel’s greatest adversary became its greatest advocate.

We know him today as the apostle Paul. For the next thirty or so years he “Proclaimed [Him] among the nations” so that He could be “Believed on in the world.”

Like no other

From Jesus’ birth (“revealed in the flesh”) to His ascension (“Taken up to glory”)—in those 33 years Jesus made far more impact on our world than anyone else who ever lived before or since. This impact continues to our day.

That’s because of who He is and what He did.

If you doubt that, I challenge you to read the Gospel of Luke and then its sequel, the Book of Acts.

Then decide.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: