Lovers of Self Rather Than God
Paul starts a long list of bad behaviors in 2 Timothy 3 with this statement “… men will be lovers of self…” And, he concludes with this statement “…lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God…”
The list is speaking about behaviors of people in the end times, which could be where we are now. The list is ominous for relationships and society especially when coupled with verse 13... "But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived."
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! - 2 Timothy 3:1–5
On one hand, if any of these items sound uncomfortably like the condition of relationships today, that just means you are paying attention. How often do you hear someone talk about "needing some more me time" or "I need to pay attention to me more."
The world and each one of us have a path of least resistance to "lovers of self."
But, do not despair, because there is still hope. That is what GR8 Relationships is about, providing hope for relationships. The hope, though, does not come from focusing on you, flashing your ME, or loving yourself. The hope is that we will do as Jesus did - pursue the best for and serve others.
If you have the idea of needing to focus on yourself, there is one way to do that the best. In fact, you can make a difference in at least one person’s life: yours.
What is that proper way to think about yourself – self-examination! That can lead to walking with the Spirit who provides self-control.
Where's Your Love?
On the other hand, you may be living in the list shown above. You may believe what is taught regularly in schools as well as churches that "lovers of self" is a good thing.
How can you know if you are focused on being a lover of self? All you need to do is ask yourself, “Where is my love? What do I value?" A simple and accurate test to know what you value is just watch where you spend your time and money.
So, where do you spend your time and money?
Do you love yourself (ME) more than others? Do you love ME more than God? Are you consumed in thoughts about yourself more than delighting in His nature and character and works? Do you prefer spending time on your hobbies, house, clothes, work, books, music, boats, sports, projects, rather than spending it soaking up the wisdom, mysteries, and wonders of THE BOOK written by your Creator, Savior, and Lord?
If so, then it is likely that you are in the "lovers of self" category more than the "lovers of God."
The point is not that you must read the Bible every minute of every day. It means being in His Word so that it will permeate your thinking, keeping you constantly aware of how easy it is for your ME to flash.
It takes a deliberate choice to follow the Holy Spirit rather than your sin nature.
Saturated with God's Word
In the past, I used a sponge to wash my car. I would use dish washing soap which saturated the sponge. In fact, since that is the only place that I used the sponge, it was very difficult to rinse the soap out to use it for other purposes. It would take a lot of water to remove the soap and even then, some soap still remained.
That is the picture of how much your mind needs to be saturated in God’s Word. Every day away from the Word is time that the world is trying to rinse and clean your mind from God’s ways to let your ME flash. Every day away from God's Word puts you on the path to "lovers of self."
When your mind is renewed and saturated with God’s thinking, you can do any of the humdrum menial daily tasks to His glory. The goal is to keep a right focus, a focus on serving not on ME.
"Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” does not suggest that we must choose between pleasure and God; for when we live for God, we enjoy the greatest pleasures (Psalms 16:11). The choice is between loving pleasure or loving God. – Warren Wiersbe