Why Paul's Warning to Timothy Applies Just as Much to You Today

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The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its third of three estimates for second quarter gross domestic product (GDP). Real GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.2 percent, which was the same as the second estimate and pre-report expectations. It did document the highest annual rate of growth in nearly four years. The GDP price index increased at an annual rate of 3.0 percent for the second quarter, which was again in line with the second estimate and forecasts.

The Federal Reserve raised the target federal funds rate (the very short-term interest rate which banks charge each other) to a range of 2.00-2.25 percent. They also foresee another rate hike in December, three more in 2019 and one in 2020. The Fed is forecasting that the economy will enjoy at least three more years of growth.

The Fed cited a vibrant labor market, rising economic activity, strong job gains, low unemployment, large increases in household spending and fixed business investment, core inflation near their target rate of 2 percent and stable longer-term inflation expectations.

Since the financial crisis of 2007, the Fed has been accommodating a weak, and possibly unstable, economy with extremely low interest rates. Last week's announcement signaled a slow return to more normal interest rates and an end of accommodating monetary policy. Policies can and will change if economic conditions were to become different.

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In the kingdom, we must strike a proper balance in accommodation. We are to accommodate the poor, physically or mentally challenged, the elderly and those weak in knowledge or faith. The Bible tells us to go the extra mile to support them and to do everything out of love and faith. But accommodating or tolerating disruptive behaviors and beliefs can threaten the entire body. Leaven will spread throughout the dough, and heresy or gossip can do the same.

In an effort to accommodate political correctness, social mores and congregational preferences, today's churches can become too accommodating. Social customs, which the Bible clearly addresses, might be avoided because of political correctness. Needed changes to the order of service or the worship experience may be postponed because of the preferences of important members. Sometimes, the congregation might not be warned of clear biblical heresies that are currently popular in society (for example, there are many ways to heaven, all religions worship the same God, there is no hell, the Bible is not reliable, miracles are not for today and so on).

Paul warned Timothy that the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine. They will look for teachers who make them feel good and who teach what they desire. They will reject the truth and embrace myths.

For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

In other words, 2,000 years ago, Paul was warning his young protege of what was to come. The temptation to accommodate the peoples' desires would be great. Paul gave Timothy inspired instructions for dealing with the challenge. Specifically, he told the young man to preach the word, teach, be prepared, show patience, be sober, endure hardship, work as an evangelist and fulfill his ministry.

"Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching" (2 Tim. 4:2).

"But be self-controlled in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, and prove your ministry" (2 Tim. 4:5).

We have a high calling. We are honored to be able to share the good news. Whether our ministry is in the home, market place, school, hospital or church, we are called to fulfill our ministry. We have the infallible word. We have the name that is above all names. We have the blood of the Lamb. We have been empowered by the Spirit. We have no excuse. Let us ensure that all accommodations we make are God-directed.

Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University.

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