I am apologizing in advance. Yes, I know that the Come Follow Me curriculum dealt with Paul’s letters to Timothy a few weeks ago, and that this could have been more timely. That said, a few verses have stuck in my head since then, and I think about them all the time! When that happens, my only recourse is to type it out and then move on.
Before we get to Paul, here is some context: I am a news junkie. I follow the news from lots of sources everyday. I have always had a fascination with what was going on in the world, and close to home. Part of this interest is my own curiosity and desire to learn more, and part is because the Lord wants us to keep our eyes open to what is going on. He mentioned the following in D&C 88:77-80:
And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another tne another the doctrine off the kingdom.
Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
- This is the expected directive to learn the doctrine, but then the Lord expands his expectations of us to include more – much more.
Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—
- Now we are talking about history, world affairs, wars, politics, and other “perplexities.”
That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.
The Lord wants us to be useful, and part of that requires that we know what is going on in the world. A great example of that is how in touch our leaders are at the highest levels of the Church.
This, of course, gets in the way of our instinctive desire to just turn it off and ignore all the crud happening in the world and just refuse to be involved or aware.
Basically, this doesn’t cut in on the Lord’s Kingdom, no matter how ugly it is out there:
Which finally brings us to the scriptures in Timothy 3:1-7:
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters proud, blasphemers, disobedien to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, high ended, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts.
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Did Paul see our day, or what? I suggest you take a few minutes and look up the terms you aren’t familiar with. (For example, “incontinent” doesn’t mean you need Depends, it means lacking in self-control.)
But rather than dig into the amazing prophecy, I have been fascinated by one line: “from such turn away.“
What an interesting snippet of advice from the man who was arguably the world’s greatest missionary! After pointing out all the wicked stuff that people would be immersed in in the last days, his counsel wasn’t for us to go run out and save them, to bring them into the fold – it was to turn away from them.
Why? Because there are those who are pure in heart that are seeking the truth, and there are those who are as Paul described with base motives.
Why would we turn away from them? Because they are dangerous. Of course we are interested in saving the souls of whomever we can, but we also don’t want to get sucked into the “World” and all it’s wickedness. (You will note that Lehi didn’t create a missionary program to go rescue people from the great and spacious building.)
The point? Be careful. It becomes more apparent to men the older I get and the longer I am a tiny voice on social media, that there is absolutely no point in contending with people – especially about the gospel.
Christ taught, “For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.” (3 Nephi 11:29)
Arguing about doctrine is an amazing irony. It is also dangerous. We are best to stay away from it, and stay away from those who might try and draw us into their world. There is a spiritual contrast between those who are sincere in their questions, and those looking to pick a fight. Listen for it.
We have an obligation to keep up with what is happening in the world – without getting pulled into the world. Paul’s advice to avoid that? Keep our distance from those that are doing the pulling.
(You will note that Lehi didn’t create a missionary program to go rescue people from the great and spacious building.) Exactly! And Jesus didn’t seek out his detractors and critics, he left them alone and sought out the humble but lost souls who were ready to receive him.
Thanks for your thoughts!