2 Timothy 3:1-5 – 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 them. (NIV)
Although I have not read the book, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell, I did read an excerpt from the volume which was circulating via the Internet. The article explains a research study made public in February 2007 regarding the rise of narcissism in American culture. The research data concluded that one out of ten individuals in their twenties and one out of sixteen of those in all age groups were reported to have the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Examples included in the article portray the influence of success, material wealth, physical appearance, popularity, celebrity worship, and attention seeking. In some cases, people have gone so far as to hire fake paparazzi to follow them and take photos of them at night.
In today's Scripture, the apostle Paul lists eighteen characteristics very similar to the personality traits expressed in this article. However, Paul seems to imply that those he is describing consider themselves godly. Yet "having a form of godliness" is deceiving, being only a silhouette having the shape and appearance of that which is good.
Narcissism — morbid self-love — has been around since the beginning when Satan suggested to Eve in Genesis 3:5: "Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (NIV) Yet, in our modern world, many would agree that the symptoms of this evil have intensified and have even affected the Lord's church.
Sadly, many are wearing religious masks but reject the authority of God's Word. The result is pride and the opposite of God's will for us. James 4:6 conveys this message: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (NIV)
In Mark 12:29-31, Jesus confirms that the greatest commandment of all is this: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself." (NIV) If we obey, we will be blessed with the reality and power of God working in our lives, not merely an outward form of religion. This is the way of the Lord, the true path to fulfillment and life eternal.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, write Your law on the tablets of our hearts and place Your love within us. Grant us wisdom to understand and knowledge to discern what is right and good in Your eyes. Sanctify us in Your truth, that we may exalt Your name alone forever. Amen.