But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 2 Timothy 3:2-5
Have you ever read a passage like this one and felt a lump in your throat? Your stomach suddenly sinks and you think, “Could I be any of these things?”
This happened to me recently regarding those three, ugly words. Lovers of self.
I write posts on social media for TheCourage, which means I have started spending a lot of time on my phone. Once the work day was done, I wanted to catch up on my personal accounts to see what was going on with my friends and family. And if I posted something that day, I would slide that annoying little bar to the right every 10 minutes to see who liked or commented on my post.
I initially felt like my time on social media was pretty blameless. And some might argue that it was. I wasn’t using it to bash others or to paint a fake image of myself… But I did feel something prick my heart when reading 2 Timothy 3.
I paused and closed my eyes and asked, “God, is this me?” And in the stillness, a phrase came to my heart.
Remove the audience, Caitlin.
After years of posting photos, quotes, and articles for others to react to, I had inadvertently trained myself to be on the lookout for opportunities to tell others about ME. It was like I had an imaginary audience in my head, and I needed to keep them entertained. I especially noticed this with the addition of “story” updates. If I experienced something neat or interesting, my first instinct was to add it to my “story” rather than to thank and worship God for the moment.
Why is this so bad? Because with every slide of that bar, with every “heart” and “like” that was sending notifications constantly to my phone, the love for myself grew and grew. Not in a “love who you are” kind of way, but in an unattractive “lover of self” kind of way. I thought about myself constantly, and in order to continue loving myself, I unintentionally formed a habit of needing the approval of man.
This may not be the case for everyone, but it had become a problem for me.
I immediately removed my personal accounts from my phone. And honestly, I have experienced so much joy without those apps nagging me every hour of every day.
I’m hesitant to even write this post because I do not write it for a pat on the back or a “like,” but I have a feeling I’m not alone in this. While I think a lot of good can be done with our social media platforms, I’m scared of what it can do to our hearts if we are not careful. We are making ourselves the stars of the show, and we’re frothing at the mouth for likes and comments. Why? Could it be that we are becoming lovers of self?
I am reminded of Matthew 6:1-18, where Jesus is instructing His followers to be careful not to perform for others, even if the performance is intended to be righteous, like praying, fasting, or caring for the needy.
Why did Jesus think this message was important? Because He knows how fragile our hearts are (Psalm 103:14). He knows the motivation of our heart can easily become polluted(Jeremiah 17:9). He knows that while we were originally designed to love God, sin is fighting against us to draw us toward loving ourselves more (Romans 7:23) Without even realizing it, we can make ourselves an idol.
“The true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention.” ― Timothy J. Keller
Do you think I’m being dramatic or legalistic? I thought that at first, too. But here’s the thing… As Christians, there should be nothing we want more than to know God and to be consumed with His teaching. If we think there’s the smallest possibility that something could be getting in the way of that, shouldn’t we do what we can to remove it?
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2