Today’s reading: Ecclesiastes 7-9, Psalm 46, 2 Timothy 3

I’ve spent the last twenty years of my career in some type of risk management role.  I know that different types of risk manifest themselves in different ways, have different impacts on people and organizations, and can be appropriately treated in many different ways.  Yet, options for treating risk can always be summarized into four basic actions – avoid, transfer, mitigate or accept the risk.  What action is the best choice in each situation depends on your risk appetite.  How likely is the event to actually occur, and how much of the downside impact (or consequences) can you handle?

Paul begins 2 Timothy 3 by describing the last days.  Things are going to be bad.  People are going to be bad.  This badness greatly increases the risk that we, as Christfollowers, won’t achieve our goal of living a life that glorifies God.  The more ungodly the world gets, and the more we are surrounded by people who love themselves more than they love God, the greater our risk of adopting their ways and turning from God.

Paul’s recommended treatment for this risk is to avoid it all together.  Remember back in Deuteronomy when God was guiding his people how they were to take over the land he had promised to their ancestors?  When they took over a city, they were to eliminate everyone and everything.  Why?  So the pagan culture didn’t influence their practices and pull them away from God.

Same theory here.  If you surround yourself with people who love themselves more than they love God and others, love money, are proud, ungrateful, and lack self-control, their practices will start to infiltrate your life.   Eventually you will look and sounds just like them.

If Paul’s guidance is to avoid these people, you know the likelihood of them influencing you must be high.  The consequences of this type of behavior that separates us from God is also severe.  The downside risk is just too great for us to handle.

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. Have nothing to do with such people (2 Timothy 3:1-5).