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2 Timothy 4:1-5
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
Resist the Urge to Scratch
I think as I get older, I find more satisfaction in some of life’s simple pleasures than I did when I was young. For example, I don’t think many things feel better than to be able to scratch an itch. I don’t know about you, but for me, man, it feels wonderful to make good use of those fingernails when I feel a little tingle on the skin. On the other side, there are few things as uncomfortable as sitting in a meeting or class and all-of-a-sudden having an itch right in the center of your back or maybe to have some kind of skin problem that scratching will only make worse. I’m convinced that in the new heaven and earth, and I’m talking about when God’s kingdom comes, we’ll be able to scratch every itch, hallelujah, praise the Lord. But before that comes, we’ll just have to do the best we can.
But I’ll tell you, according to what Paul said to Timothy, there’s one itch we always need to resist scratching. You see, as he wrote, we can get itching ears. Of course, Paul wasn’t talking about anything physical. For him, we can develop ears that want to hear only the stuff they want to hear, messages that conform rather than challenge what they already believe, words that make us feel good about everything we’re doing and that offer us the ammunition to judge and condemn those who don’t. Now these are the itching ears about which Paul was writing, and since we’re surrounded by all kinds of folks on both sides of the stained glass that shovel this stuff, scratching is remarkably easy. Unfortunately, these self-serving and self-indulgent messages have more to do with what we want to hear than any kind of truth spoken by God. And for that reason, when our ears are itching for a pleasing but absolutely empty form of psuedo-Christianity, we really need to resist the urge to scratch so that we might turn to a more lasting and a more sound source of satisfaction, one that’s grounded in God’s word.