The Breakdown of Family Relationships
…without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers…
— 2 Timothy 3:3
When I was a young boy, each night our family gathered around the table in the dining room for the evening meal. Mother cooked while my sisters and I set the plates and silverware on the table, and before we ate, Dad prayed a prayer of blessing over our meal. It was a wonderful family time that we looked forward to each evening. When we finished our meal, we washed, dried, and put away the dishes. Then we’d usually move to the living room to spend time together watching a couple of family-oriented TV programs.
We ate together, prayed together, spent our evenings and weekends together, went to church together, and even rode everywhere in the car together because we only had one car. If we spent time away from home, it was at the home of family friends or at a church function. So we were together most of the time, as were most families back in those days. But this is not the case for most families today.
Because most homes own multiple cars today, everyone often travels separately, following their various busy schedules. As a result, few families sit down to eat a meal together — and even if they do, it is rarely cooked at home but usually eaten at a restaurant. Families don’t even watch television together anymore. Because they have so many televisions in their houses, they can all be home, yet not together, watching different programs in different parts of the house. Unfortunately, many families don’t even attend the same churches.
The truth is, if families are going to spend time together today, it won’t usually happen unless they cancel something else and schedule time to make it happen. The day of families spending large amounts of time together has almost vanished in our modern-day world. But according to the signposts that Paul lists in Second Timothy 3, the deterioration of close families and marriages are developments that will occur in the last days.
Paul next told us that society will be “without natural affection….” The words “without natural affection” are a translation of the Greek word astorgos — from the word storgos, but with an a affixed to the front of it, which reverses the definition of storgos.
So what does storgos mean? It is the Greek word that describes devotion to one’s own family or an instinctive commitment to one’s family. But when an a is fixed to the front of this word, it describes a lack of devotion or commitment to one’s family. In other words, it pictures a disjointed family that has lost the closeness it once possessed. The word astorgos that Paul used in this verse could be translated unloving, but with reference to an unloving, non-nurturing, uncaring family environment.
The traditional family relationships that once existed in abundance are threatened today by schedules, multiple jobs in one home, financial pressure, divorce, kids living with separate parents, multiple cars that help to create separate paths of each family member’s life, multiple televisions per home, and so on. Parents go one direction, while children go another direction — and very often even Dad and Mom don’t go the same direction. Thus, the family resides in one house together, but they don’t share life together, and most often they don’t even share a meal together unless they schedule it into their week.
Sociologists say this troubling trend has contributed to rebellion in children who feel neglected or unwanted; attention disorders in children who are rushed from one place to the next or who spend time watching television instead of enjoying time with their parents and siblings; and marital relationships deteriorating as a result of life moving so fast that husband and wife don’t take time to connect and share their hearts and lives in a meaningful way. This problem today is epidemic. Just ask any schoolteacher about the state of children today — and teachers everywhere will verify that the family is in serious trouble.
This is one of the signposts that we have entered the last of the last days.
People who assert that the family situation today is no different than in previous times are either deliberately negligent or blind to the facts. We have only to read the statistics and reports of what is happening to the family to nearly be shaken to the core. It is a sign of the times in which we are living.
Thank God, those of us who love Him do not have to fall victim to this plight. By living according to God’s Word and by making our families and participation in a local church a priority, we can build strong families even in these last days. If we don’t take time to build our families right, we will unfortunately reap sad consequences. These are the last days; therefore, we are obligated to wisely build our families to resist the spiritual storms that are characteristic of this age.
Paul went on to tell us next that the deterioration of the family will be so rampant in the last days, families will be affected by “trucebreakers.” The word “trucebreakers” is the Greek word aspondos, from the word spondos, meaning a treaty or a covenant but with an a attached to the front of it. This makes it the word aspondos, which is an unquestionable reference to one who breaks a truce or one who breaks a covenant. The word is difficult to translate from Greek, but almost all translators agree that this describes a covenant that is broken due to irreconcilable differences. In this verse, Paul had just been speaking about deteriorating family relationships. By using this word aspondos at this juncture, in all likelihood he was predicting a rampant outbreak of divorce in the very last of the last days.
Family relationships will decline to such a degree in the last days that it will give rise to a widespread epidemic of divorce. Lacking the commitment to work through problems, husbands and wives — who already are moving so fast that they are nearly living separate lives — will find it easier to just keep permanently moving in different directions rather than sticking it out and working through their problems. Paul even used the Greek word aspondos to let us know the claim of irreconcilable differences will be used as the main reason to divorce. The Holy Spirit prophesies through Paul that when divorce hits epidemic proportions, it is a signpost that the world has entered the final chapters of the last days.
Divorce is at an all-time high in world history. The introduction of no-fault divorce — other- wise referred to as irreconcilable differences — has been a huge contributor to the largest increase of divorce in history. Billions of dollars are spent annually on support payments, and tens of thousands of professional workers administer and enforce child-support arrangements. In short, divorce is sadly one of the biggest industries in the world today.
Knowing that we live in these last days, we who are married must stay before the Lord, keep a pure heart, and cleave to the spouse God gave us. If you struggle in your marital relationship, God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit can mend it. Yes, it may take time and work. But in most cases, with God’s help, you will find that you don’t have to become another casualty of this trend toward divorce that is so rampant in the world today.
But if you have already fallen victim to this symptom of the last days, God’s grace is present to fully restore. He loves you and cares deeply for the wounds this has inflicted on your soul and on the souls of your children. With the help of God and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, it is possible for you to fully recover from this trauma. God is always present to help those who call on Him in time of need.
Where divorce is rampant, the courts are overloaded with lawsuits — and this leads to the next point that Paul listed in his signposts of the last days. He wrote that society will experience a wave of “false accusers.” Pay close attention to this point because I believe that you will find this very interesting.
The words “false accusers” in Greek is diabolos, which most often is translated as the word devil. In the context of these verses, however, it is used to picture people who argue and debate in a court of law in order to win material gain or to get legal advantage.
Just as the word “devil” means accuser or slanderer, Paul used this word to depict a time when people will excessively accuse, slander, and sue to gain material substance or to get legal advantage. Paul forecasted a time when, rather than sit down and work it out, people will overload the legal system with lawsuits because they find it easier and more convenient — or to their financial advantage — to accuse and sue rather than to settle their differences. In fact, it may seem as if the devil himself has taken over the legal system as more and more people join the frenzy and resort to suing each other.
Does this sound familiar to the world you live in today?
As I read Paul’s list of signposts indicating that the last days have begun, I am simply amazed at the accuracy of the Bible. Paul told us that society would be “…without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers…” (2 Timothy 3:2). Two thousand years in advance, the Holy Spirit perfectly forecasted what would occur in society at the end of the ages.
All of these words and phrases in an interpretative translation could read:
“…Love and commitment for family will degenerate; divorce will become epidemic with irreconcilable differences being the major cause for separation; and the court system will be overwhelmed as people go overboard in their suing others and in being sued….”
It’s amazing to read, isn’t it? Yet these are the days we live in. But God has not abandoned us to these turbulent times. We have the Word of God as our instruction manual; the Holy Spirit as our Teacher, Mentor, and Guide; and we have other brothers and sisters in the Christian community on whom we can lean for support and help when it is needed. With all that God has provided, we are well able to live victoriously for Him in these last times!
It’s not time for you to throw in the towel in despair — it’s time for you to throw up your hands with a shout of victory! You are truly a part of a chosen generation that is experiencing not only the end of the age, but also history’s greatest opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to help bring in a last harvest of souls before the age concludes. What a privilege!
So continually fortify yourself with God’s Word; learn to let the Holy Spirit’s power flow unhindered through you; and run your race with endurance all the way to the end. In the midst of all your other responsibilities before God, make a quality decision to set aside time to spend with family as a top priority so you can keep family relationships strong and healthy. And before you conclude your race one day, determine to do all you can to tell the Good News of Jesus to people so that when you make the big exit, you will take as many people with you as possible!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I am so glad that You saved me and delivered me from the destruction that is at work in the lost world today. When I read your Word and watch what is happening in the world around me, I see how carefully You tried to warn us of these things and to prepare us to live victoriously in them. How can I ever thank You enough for so carefully revealing the future and the truth to those of us who love You and Your Word? Now that I really see what a pivotal time this is, I ask You to help me live each day wisely and not to waste a minute. And please teach me to take advantage of each opportunity when I can tell the Good News of Jesus’ saving grace to people who are lost and in need of Him.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I boldly confess that the Holy Spirit lives in me. Therefore, I am more than enough to face the challenges of living in these last days. It is no accident that I am alive right now. God chose me for this time; He needs me on the earth. I am anointed to break burdens, to destroy the yoke of bondage in people’s lives, and to manifest the glory of God to all those who are around me. Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to see the end of the ages that the prophets saw by faith. I purpose to obey the Word of God, walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit, and see the glory of God manifested in my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- In light of what you have read in today’s Sparkling Gem, I want to ask, how is the condition of your family? Do you spend time together? Do you sit down and eat a meal together every day — or do you find your family all going in different directions and hardly ever spending quality time together?
- What decisions and changes do you need to make to strengthen your family? What do you believe the Holy Spirit is asking you to do to undergird your home and to make it stronger?
- Can you think of people who have been casualties of the trends you’ve read about today? Can you think of people who have suffered personal tragedy or loss that you can help, strengthen, or assist as they recover from the struggles they have gone through? Who are those people, and what should you do to show your love and concern to them?