Looking for Leadership in Difficult Times
When it comes to making political choices in difficult times we may wonder what to do? In a democratic society we do have a responsibility to elect leaders, but the options may seem less than ideal. Paul however, suggested that people pray for those in authority. Why? So we can live peaceful, quiet, godly lives. Some political options that may be our present reality could make this impossible. There are those who would support values that would put us at odds with the state, and condemn us for obedience to God. On the other hand there are those who support the sanctity of life, and want to uphold our freedom of religion, conscience, and speech. So in difficult times we need to be wise and understand what is really important to living the Christian life. And pray for our leaders.
Paul warned Timothy that ‘difficult times” would come, dangerous times when people would mock the truth. They would create division by following their immoral desires. These morally challenged narcissists would scoff at those who were trying to remain faithful to a godly ethic. Greed, pride, ingratitude, and arrogance would be the hallmark of the people who deny God. And, they would not be satisfied until they could push everyone into accepting or conforming to their self-centred ideology. Are we living in such a time? What should our approach be?
Living with Integrity
Jesus, made his sentiments clear. He told the Pharisees, who were ‘lovers of money’ that no one can serve two masters. We cannot serve God and be caught up in the materialism of the society around us. Ultimately God will deal with the proud and they will bear the consequences of their lack of spiritual insight. But for us who believe Jesus, and desire to live godly lives, we are told to live blamelessly with integrity. Paul adds to this in his instruction about those who would lead God’s household. God’s people were to be honest, above reproach, caring for family, showing hospitality, being just in their dealings with others, and self-disciplined in their lifestyle.
Dealing with the Scoffers
But in these difficult times there would be challenges for those who were holding to Jesus’ testimony, and keeping the commandments. In dealing with those in society who despise God’s teaching Matthew’s advice was to avoid correcting them. This was akin to the advice in proverbs that cautioned, “Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you!” Even within the church there would be traitors, who like Judas were willing to betray godly values for personal gain. Both Paul and John agreed in their warnings to believers, to avoid those who claim to be Christians, but who reject correction and persist in immoral lifestyles. Paul was adamant in telling his readers to keep far away from irresponsible brethren and false teachers.
Our Strength in Weakness
Paul faced many trials and a lot of persecution, because of the difficult times in which he was living. And he knew that everyone who was determined to live a godly life would face similar difficulties. Yet, in the final analysis he was able to say he would ‘boast’ in these weaknesses. Why? Because when he was weak in the face of difficult times, he knew he could rely on the strength of Jesus Christ to empower him. Paul was living to please the Lord. Therefore he had confidence that the Lord would give him the strength, beyond his human ability, to complete his mission. Paul encouraged the brethren to face the dangers inherent in living godly lives in an ungodly society, by holding tightly to the teaching of the scripture. For then God’s power would protect them, and the reward would be their imperishable inheritance in God’s Kingdom.
Living with Difficult People