“Have nothing to do with such people” (II Timothy 3:5)
And just who might these people be, the ones God tells us to avoid? Are they thieves, murderers, a mix of hardened criminals? Maybe, but not necessarily. Are they politicians, swindlers, telemarketers, salesmen? Could be, but again not absolutely. So, who are these dubious, unscrupulous, double-crossing villains? They are the people Paul wrote to Timothy about in his second letter to him. Their identity could be veiled, but their character speaks volumes. They could be a neighbor, a co-worker, the person next to you at church (social distancing, of course), even a relative. They are the people we encounter as we navigate through these last days. Whoever they might be, they are possessors of a nature we want to steer clear of.
Listen closely to how Paul describes these savory sorts in verses 1 through 4 of II Timothy. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.” We are all guilty of sin and selfishness at times. So long as we have a human nature, we will succumb to sin. Those Paul is writing about here are people who habitually practice these sinful ways. They have hidden motives and agendas that are dark, sinister, and rebel against the teaching of scripture. They are evil people who want to advance and expand their sinister ways.
So, what are we to do with these people? Paul tells us to “have nothing to do with them.” Paul is primarily warning about people who infiltrate the church, but the same characteristics hold true for the people we encounter in the world. They could be the people we follow on Facebook, those who bring us the nightly news, those who try to invade our lives with their malicious gossip and manipulation. The warning is this – do not listen to them, do not buy what their trying to sell you, do not fellowship with them, and do not embrace their agendas. If what they do and say is contrary to the word of God – have nothing to do with them.
The world is full of clowns. They are fakes who cake themselves in thick pasty make-up to try to appear as legitimate, yet they hide their real face and their sinful hearts. This is exactly what Paul warned about in his letter to Timothy. So, if we don’t want to mingle with these clowns, let’s stop going to the circus.