Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Today’s Topic: Don’t Scratch the Itch
Today’s Text: 2 Timothy 4:3 (ESV) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
Have you ever tried to not scratch an itch? Maybe it was a mosquito bite or a rash, both of which are really hard. But the hardest itch for me to resist is the one that has no apparent cause, like the one in the middle of my back right now. As I sit in my chair typing these words, there is an itch that won’t go away. It is not being caused by an external source, but by something within me to which the nerves are reacting. I am doing my best to resist it, but it’s not going away. The more I think about resisting, the stronger it gets. Little movements of my arms as I type cause my shirt to move over the spot and irritate it all the more. But I shall not scratch it.
Why not, you may ask? Scratching the spot will make you feel better. It will remove the irritation. It will satisfy you and bring you to a place of rest and contentment so you can accomplish more. Go ahead, scratch it.
Now in this case that is all true, but I am still not going to scratch it so that I can make a connection to a deeper truth. The world today wants the freedom to scratch anything that itches. It feels good, so why not do it? I need it right now. He doesn’t satisfy me any more so why shouldn’t I enjoy life with someone else? I was born this way. I have the right to be happy. And it goes on and on and on and on. We have itches that are being generated by something inside of us to which our emotions are reacting.
That something inside us is called pride, and the itching is the gateway to sin. We all have our little itches. Itches for success. Itches for security. Itches for pleasure. Itches for acceptance. Itches for food or finances or fun. Don’t scratch. The temporary satisfaction of scratching has an eternal backlash.
We live in a day when taking a stand for truth is extremely unpopular. In many places of the world, including right here at home in ever-increasing frequency, not scratching is being condemned by a culture that believes it has the right to scratch any itch. In fulfillment of the Apostle Paul’s prophecy in Second Timothy, people have surrounded themselves with teachers, preachers, and friends that validate their right to scratch. It’s happening right in the middle of the church. And churches who don’t give in to scratching are becoming more and more unpopular with society. They are condemned in the media for being intolerant, when in reality they are the only ones who are truly tolerant because they can tolerate the itching.
So as I sit here with a bigger than before itch in the middle of my back, I wonder about the other itches in my life being generated from within by my selfish desires. I wonder how long I will be able to resist scratching them. I wonder how I can even do that. Then I read these words from Paul:
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:1-2 (NIV)
That’s it! Two keys to not scratching – the presence of God and Jesus Christ, and a constant view of His appearing and coming Kingdom. Itching ceases in the presence of God. Itching increases if we prefer the presence of the world. Itching ceases when we are focused on the return of Jesus Christ. Itching increases when we believe that this life is all we get and that we are entitled to everything it has to offer.
So as the world increasingly turns away from the truth, keep your head in every situation. Don’t scratch the itch. Endure whatever hardship will come as a result of your stand for the truth, and keep doing the work of the Lord. (2 Timothy 4:4-5). You want to be able to say what Paul said at the end of life’s journey on this earth – For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)
Paul didn’t scratch. He loved the appearing of Christ more than the scratching of an itch. So should we. Stay strong. Stand for the truth. Resist the itching.
Now, about that one in my back. I wonder where it went?
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