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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Today's Scripture Reading | 2 Timothy 3:1–17

You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth. But they will not make much progress, because, as in the case of those two men, their folly will become plain to everyone.

Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. (NRSV)


I have been thinking a lot about effectiveness lately, and influence. How can I be effective in our world in the face of people who are lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, and so on? Paul says to avoid people like this, people who are reckless and swollen with conceit. By this I don’t believe Paul means look the other way and don’t see what they are doing. I think Paul is saying, “Go another way. Shape your life in a different way.”

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believe,” Paul wrote. Having firm belief does not have to become arrogance, and having humility does not mean giving up our convictions in what is right or wrong. When we remember that we belong to God we may be re-inspired to continue to equip ourselves for every good work. We may give our lives to God’s purposes, become clearer in our aims for life, develop our patience and perseverance, grow in love, increase in steadfastness, and follow in the footsteps of other saints of our faith.

Looking for the inspiration of God in scripture, in prayer, in community—all these are ways to draw closer to the love and strength of God’s presence in our world.

God of strength and compassion, help me to remember that I belong to you at all times. Help me to rest when I need to rest, trusting that you will continue your work of redeeming the world through all your people. And help me to persevere in playing my role in your healing and redemption of the world. Help me to dream your dreams, O God, and help me to live into them more and more each day. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Minister for Congregational Life

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