You should also know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. 2. Timothy 3:1-2a NLT
They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. 2. Timothy 3:3-5 NLT
It seems to me we are going through difficult times, and I am not talking here about the recent exposures of greedy and shady business ordeals in the mortgage world, that is now affecting the stock market on Wall Street, or the devastations caused by ‘Mother Nature’. No, in fact, I am talking about Christians! Or to put it more accurately; those who appear to be Christians, as this scripture above says.
In order to live a fruitful Godly life, and not fall into deception, we must distinguish between the Christians who practice unconditional love, from those who only have the appearance of a Christian, but their daily behavior gives them away. These are people who know Christian doctrine, and use Christian clichés and traditions. They even perform, on first sight, well meaning activities such as giving and praying. These practices make these so-called Christians look good from the outside, but when you dig deeper, these people are only interested in solving things their own way, not God’s way, and keep control over their lives and wounds. Underneath the outside layers, they are self-righteous and proud, needy for acceptance, approval, and love. They are conditional people who cannot deal with offenses easily. When they get hurt, they say that they are too hurt to forget. They will rather punish you by holding on to their pain, and push you out of their lives. They deliberately choose to continue to live in the sin of unforgiveness. Christians come in many shapes and forms, and many work genuinely on their sanctification, but don’t be fooled by outer appearances and what people “say” they want, or who people “say” they are.
If their hearts come to the surface, and their inner attitudes of belief, love, forgiveness, and true worship are lacking, the outer appearance is meaningless. Yes, we are indeed living in difficult times:
And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:10-13 NKJV
With false teaching and loose morals, come a particularly destructive disease; the loss of true love for God and others. The sin of not being willing to forgive offenses cools our love for God and others, by turning the focus on ourselves. You cannot truly love if you think only of yourself.
The apostle Paul gives us an awesome summery on how to have an unconditional loving ministry, as he was dealing with the cold hearted Corinthian believers who rejected him and his message:
We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry. In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit. We have faithfully preached the truth. God’s power has been working in us. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are well known, but we are treated as unknown. We live close to death, but here we are, still alive. We have been beaten within an inch of our lives. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you. Our hearts are open to you. If there is a problem between us, it is not because of a lack of love on our part, but because you have withheld your love from us. 2. Corinthians 6:3-12 NLT