itle: Decline of Virtue
The Erosion of Kindness
"Therefore, let us seize every opportunity to do good to everyone, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Galatians 6:10)
Kindness appears to be waning in society. Observing the news, headlines, and general behavior globally and within the community of believers is disconcerting. In recent years, we've witnessed a surge in harsh and cruel conduct, evident in acts of prejudice and bigotry. However, I've also noticed a lack of compassion and empathy among believers, God's chosen people. 2 Timothy 3 unequivocally speaks of a shift in people's character in the last days, including those who claim to follow God, where many become self-centered, unkind, and devoid of true godliness. Are we witnessing this prophecy unfold?
To delve into this issue, I turn to a Jewish parable on kindness that illustrates two types of individuals: the "good guest" and the "bad guest." This simple analogy highlights how kindness influences interactions between guests and hosts. The "good guest" acknowledges the host's efforts with gratitude, recognizing the host's sacrifices. Conversely, the "bad guest" minimizes the host's generosity, assuming the host's actions were merely routine. The distinction lies in how one's heart responds to others.
Let's be clear: as God's people, we are called to manifest goodness from the depths of our hearts. Conversely, an individual consumed by selfishness can only perpetuate negativity. Selfishness, prevalent in our culture, fosters a relentless pursuit of self-gratification and undermines acts of kindness. For believers, this poses a significant challenge, as selfishness contradicts the essence of goodness. It blinds individuals to the needs of others, fostering a perpetual state of dissatisfaction akin to the "bad guest" in our parable.
The Rise of the Selfie Generation
The epitome of our self-centered culture is the phenomenon of selfies or the "selfie generation." These self-portraits, shared on various social media platforms, portray individuals in flattering poses, reinforcing their self-image. However, imagine the absurdity of distributing glossy self-portraits to friends before the advent of social media!
Moreover, society's fixation on materialism and fame exacerbates this problem. Television programming glorifies the affluent and famous, perpetuating unrealistic standards. This obsession breeds feelings of inadequacy and fuels the emotional malaise of selfishness. In contrast, the message of Christ emphasizes fellowship, sacrifice, and generosity, enriching lives beyond material possessions.
Materialism within the Church
Materialism infiltrates the family of God through both collective and individual struggles. While overt materialism may not afflict the church traditionally, the fear of scarcity can lead to hoarding resources. Instead of relying on faith, the church may rely on financial reserves, mirroring individual tendencies of discontentment and accumulation.
Materialism transcends financial status; it reflects an attitude of fear and ingratitude towards resources. Surprisingly, a wealthy person may exhibit a poverty mindset, while a poor individual displays abundance through generosity. This disparity underscores the spiritual dimensions of wealth and poverty.
In Philippians, Paul grapples with the tension between worldly pursuits and spiritual fulfillment. His resolve to prioritize knowing Christ exemplifies transcending material desires for a higher calling. Similarly, believers must discern their life's purpose amidst societal pressures for status and possessions.
Lessons from Sinai
The barrenness of Sinai, where God established His covenant with Israel, offers profound insights into combating materialism. God intentionally chose this desolate setting to underscore His primacy over material abundance. By stripping away distractions, God demanded the undivided devotion of His people.
Sinai's significance lies in prioritizing God over worldly allurements. Similarly, believers must cultivate a mindset that elevates spiritual wealth above material possessions. A Sinai experience, devoid of worldly distractions, renews our commitment to God's central message and counters the pervasive influence of materialism.
In conclusion, combating the erosion of kindness and materialism requires a paradigm shift towards prioritizing spiritual values over material wealth. As believers, we must emulate the "good guest," expressing gratitude and generosity in all interactions. Through selflessness and devotion to God's principles, we can reclaim and exemplify the virtue of goodness in an increasingly self-centered world.