“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
This is something we see emphasized more indirectly in John’s Revelation as well. The closer we get to the end of this world, the worse things will get; the worse people will get.
On the one hand, this is pretty discouraging. I mean, if we are to be doing all of this work advancing the Gospel, shouldn’t things be getting better? For about 100 years people thought that way. Many believers held that as the Gospel advanced the world would continue improving until we entered naturally and smoothly into the Millennium mentioned in Revelation, after which time Jesus would return. World Wars 1 and 2 pretty much dashed those hopes to pieces.
On the other hand, this realism gives us hope. The Gospel may be advancing, but the people who don’t embrace it move ever further from it. As the enemy recognizes his end growing ever closer, he will begin pushing his servants to go after the people of God with an even greater ferocity than they have thus far. And things will get worse.
The question for us is this: How will we respond to it? Will we respond by giving in, by drawing battle lines and attacking back, by hating them as they hate us; or will we respond with the Gospel, with the patience and love of Christ, with compassion toward those who are struggling under the weight of their sin? Will we respond to the world as the world would, or as Jesus did?
As a matter of fact, we don’t have to wait until the end to answer that question. We can answer it now with the people around us whether they be strangers or family members. The answer we choose will be a good indicator of the strength of our faith and the level to which we are reflecting the character of Christ. Choose carefully.