A Self-Absorbed, Self-Consumed Society
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous….
— 2 Timothy 3:2
As you drive down the highway to a town or city, signs are regularly posted along the side of the road to keep you on track and help you monitor how far you are from your destination. Those signposts are guides, markers, and indicators, intended to point you in the right direction and keep you on track until you finally arrive at your destination. When you reach your journey’s end, a prominent sign usually stands at the entrance of the town, which reads in large, bold letters “Welcome!” When you see that welcome sign, it is the declaration that you have finally arrived!
Similarly, in Second Timothy 3:2, Paul listed the events that will act as spiritual signposts, indicating that we are headed toward the very last of the last days. He wrote, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous….” If all of these events are occurring simultaneously, we need to take it as a big “welcome” sign that lets us know we are no longer journeying toward the last of the last days; we have finally entered them. If all of these things are in evidence in society around us, we are already there — in the last of the last days.
At the first of his list, Paul said, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves….” Speaking through the apostle, the Holy Spirit alerts us to the fact that one of the principal signs of the last days will be self-love, self-consumption, and selfishness. When Paul wrote, “…Men shall be lovers of their own selves…,” he packed this announcement full of insight!
This verse presents the picture of people who are self-focused, self-centered, and self- consumed. These are self-absorbed people whose wants and needs are the very core and center of their world. Rather than live selfless lives in service to others, their first consideration is always their own self-interests and desires. Everything else takes a back seat to their needs being met.
Paul clarified this truth when he stated that they will be “lovers of their own selves.” The phrase “lovers of their own selves” is very strange in the Greek language, because it is the Greek word philautos — a weird compound of two Greek words. The first of these Greek words is philos, a form of the Greek word phileo, which mean to love or to be fond of someone else. It denotes the love, fondness, attraction, or romantic feelings that people have toward one another. In fact, the Greek word for kissing also comes from this word phileo.
As you know, kissing is something you do with someone else; generally speaking, no one stands in front of the mirror and kisses himself. The word philos should never be used to describe oneself. However, in this verse, the word philos is used in conjunction with the Greek word autos, meaning oneself. Thus the compound word philautos does not describe the love, fondness, romance, or attraction for someone else — it refers to one’s love and attraction for oneself.
This word philautos is the picture of complete self-absorption, self-focus, self-preoccupation, and self-love. When you pile all these words on top of each other — the words eimi, meaning I am, and the word philautos, depicting inordinate self-consumption and self-love — the message is plain: In the last days, society will be utterly consumed with itself.
With this in mind, I advise you to take a look at the world around you today. Do you see a high level of selfishness and self-centeredness permeating every sphere of society? If you do, you need to take heed! This is a major sign that you have entered the last days.
Next, Paul said that men will be “covetous” in the last days. This is a translation of the word philarguros, which is another strange adjective used to depict people in the last days. Similar to the word philautos described above, this word is a compound of the words philos and arguros. As we saw, the word philos refers to love, fondness, romance, or attraction. But the second part of the word is the word arguros, which is the old Greek word for silver or money. When these two terms are compounded as they are in this verse, the new word describes a love of money.
In ancient Greece, the word philarguros was often used to depict covetousness, a love of money, or someone who is money hungry. Even more specifically, it portrayed people who had funds available but were so self-absorbed that they refused to share their wealth with others. Thus, they were so involved in self-embellishment that they were miserly about using their money for others. By using this word, Paul let us know that at the end of the age, a lost society will be so self-centered, they will spend ridiculous sums of money on themselves. Being primarily preoccupied with themselves, they will spend, spend, and spend on themselves — constantly searching for ways to treat themselves to more and more while they give less and less for the sake of others.
A major sign that we have entered the last days will be an epidemic of this type of lavish self-spending by people who are self-consumed and self-absorbed. When you look at the world around you, do you see society moving in this direction?
This verse could be interpreted to mean:
“People will be self-consumed, self-absorbed, self-focused, and in love with themselves more than anyone else. As a result of this self-love, they will hoard money for themselves while spending very little to help others….”
Certainly God wants His people to be blessed and prosperous, but as riches increase, we must remember that the Bible warns us: “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them” (Psalm 62:10). Our goal is not self-consumption but to use the riches God gives us to fund the preaching of the Gospel around the world. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.” Establishing His covenant on the earth is our greatest assignment!
How do you know if you have fallen into the same trap of self-centeredness that is so prevalent in the world today? Let me ask you this question — if the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart and tells you to give, can you say no to the things you were planning to buy so that you can obey the Spirit’s unction instead? Or do you find that you regularly hold yourself and your desires above the Lord’s calling to help others?
If your first response is to obey the Holy Spirit, it is a sure sign that the self-consumed attitude of the world does not have a place in your heart. If, however, you find it hard to say no to your own creature comforts and regularly ignore the invitation of the Holy Spirit to help someone else, it is a sign that the attitude of the world is worming its way into your heart and soul.
We are in the world, but Jesus has called us to be different from the world. Therefore, we must ask the Holy Spirit to help us guard our hearts lest we fall into the trap that the world has fallen into in these last days.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I ask You to help me keep my heart free from materialism and to keep the Gospel as the greatest and highest priority in my life. I know that You want me to be blessed and to be financially and materially increased, but I don’t want to set my heart on riches and fall into the trap of this lost world in these last days. Help me stay focused on souls — what You love most — and to do my part to help establish Your covenant in every part of the earth. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I know I can maintain the godly balance You desire for my life regarding possessions and finances.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I am sensitive to the Spirit of God in regard to money, materialism, and riches. God wants to massively bless me, but He also wants me to make Him and the preaching of the Gospel worldwide the greatest priority in my life. Jesus gave His life for souls — and I must give my all to help see that those souls hear the Good News. Therefore, I will walk in balance in regard to money and possessions. I will pursue the things I know the Lord wants me to have, but I will not overstep and become so self-absorbed that I ignore the souls that need to know about the saving knowledge of Jesus. I refuse to be self-consumed, so I make the willful decision to let the Holy Spirit rule this area of my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- When you read this Sparkling Gem today, did you think about the way the world lavishes upon itself with no restraint? Because of easy-to-get credit, people spend money without even thinking of the ramifications of their expenditures. Do you think this signpost of the last days is evident in the world around you today?
- What does your own spending reveal about you? Do you have a difficult time saying no to your flesh and practicing restraint and budgetary control? Have you fallen into the trap that the world is in by spending more and more all the time?
- Have you ever sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart that you have gone over the limit in spending on yourself and that you need to stop being so self-consumed? How did you respond? How will you respond in the future if He lets you know that you need to make an adjustment in this area?