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, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4
The last days. Have you heard of them? Those are the times before Jesus returns to the earth. It sure feels like the last days, doesn’t it? The last days are what Paul described in 2 Timothy 3-4. In Matthew 24, Jesus talked about wars and rumors of war, lawlessness increasing and peoples’ love growing cold. He said that was just the beginning of birth pangs. In other words, this could go on for awhile and get much worse.
George Barna, a Christian researcher and pastor, published a book in Sept. of 2016 called America at the Crossroads. In it he explained the difference between fads and trends. A fad is something that comes and goes in popularity, like leg warmers or Cabbage Patch Dolls. A trend is something that impacts the culture and causes a shift that lasts. I would say a recent cultural trend, or shift, came about when Bruce Jenner launched the headline, “Call Me Kaitlyn.” That was an event that swung many other cultural pieces into motion.
Moving away from God and toward evil is a trend that will only continue. It is interesting that the reason Paul gave for this trend is because people will have itching ears and will act to suit their passions. It’s already happening. People with itching ears don’t want to hear Biblical truth because it might pinpoint a sin habit that they either haven’t come face to face with, or one that they are currently engaged in and don’t want to quit. They find a different place to go that suits their passions. Or, as statistics show us, they stop going to church all together.
Part of our itching ears has to do with short attention spans, a consumer based view of what people want in a church, and a make-your-own-sundae approach to belief systems. Barna wrote about how people aren’t just picking and choosing from Biblical truths to form their worldview, but they are gleaning things from the Koran, some from Buddhism, others from New Age principles. That’s called syncretism.
At least we’ve been warned, so as to not be surprised by any of it. That’s one of the reasons why Paul wrote what he did to Timothy and to us. Another purpose is so that we stand firm and not water down the truth to make it easier to handle. Stand firm in what you firmly believe and have been taught, and don’t let your ears itch. In the next verses in 2 Timothy 4, Paul admonishes: “Be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
We may or may not be in the last days. But we can be in our own last days, recognizing that our own lifespan is just a vapor and a mist. Make the most of them.