9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come."
Matthew 24:9-14 NASB
A couple of years ago, we experienced what happens when a fellow "believer" turns out to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. For me and my family, it was an extremely difficult time that left us hurt and confused. We had poured out our lives to help a couple of families in our church, but over time, these families allowed jealously and envy to grow in their hearts to a point where they willfully, intentionally set out to hurt us. We took great strides to try to reconcile the relationships, but in the end, there was nothing more we could do (Romans 12:18). I'm certain that many Christians, doing all they can to lay down their lives for other believers, have experienced what we went through and likely on an even greater scale than what we endured. For those of similar experiences, they will be able to relate to the ease at which one's love can begin to grow cold when treated in this way.
When others (professing Christians) turned against me and my family, I found myself slipping into a very dark place; a place where I began to sense a temptation to allow my love to grow cold. It was a very real experience not only for me but also for my wife and children. We knew the truth and we tried our best to find resolution, but it seemed that no one involved actually cared (church leaders included). It was here that hurt crept in, then resentment and bitterness, all working towards an end result of a callous heart...a love growing cold.
Thankfully, we realized what was happening and my wife and I prayed together that God would help us through it. So, we made up our minds to continue to trust God and to refuse to allow our hearts to stray. Still to this day, that event has not seen any resolution to what happened, but I am starting to see that the Lord had a greater purpose for us in going through that trial. If nothing else, He has allowed us to grow in our walk with Him and to build up our love in Him.
Sign of the Times
Today, my primary Bible passage in Matthew 24 finds Jesus speaking in private to His disciples. In this passage, He lets them in on some secrets that every believer on earth has pondered on many, many occasions: the return of Christ. Starting at verse 4, Jesus begins to describe some of the events that will take place when His return draws near. Interestingly, He specifically points out how a lot of people within the Church will respond during this time:
10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
When I read this passage, I cannot help but consider the times in which we are living today. I look around and see so many false prophets leading so many believers astray; I continually see more and more professing Christians falling away, openly renouncing the Truth; and I see the betrayal of the remnant on the rise. But the verse I want to focus on today is verse 12:
12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.
Today, everywhere I look I see exponential increases in lawlessness and a willingness in our society to accept it as the norm. Hand in hand, as identified in this passage of scripture, I also see people's love growing cold, even those inside the Church! We must open our eyes to what is transpiring around us and realize the spiritual battle that is taking place. We should be alert, not so we can pinpoint the hour of arrival of Christ but so we can be cautious of the possible callousness of our hearts.
The lawlessness referred to in Matthew 24 speaks directly about the actions of man as the second coming of Christ draws near. However, 1 John 3:4 says the following:
4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.
We see here that lawlessness is simply identified as sin and we all know sin is not waiting for Christ's return before it manifests itself; sin was here yesterday, is here today, and will be here tomorrow. In this passage, Jesus points to the reckless sin of man as being that which causes most people's love to grow cold; not some people, not half the people, but most people (that means the majority). How true a statement it is that the sin of man against man causes love to grow cold...for hearts to grow callous.
Having experienced that hurtful time I mentioned earlier, I have seen how easy it is for my love to start to grow cold when someone sins against me. I can only speak to what I have been through but the Bible says that we are all susceptible to the same temptations (1 Corinthians 10:13) so I know there is someone out there, probably reading this post, who has also seen their love grow cold.
Have you experienced the lawless, sinful acts of others against you in your life and in turn allowed your love to grow cold? Maybe a family member set out to purposely hurt you, or maybe it was a co-worker, a friend, a fellow believer at church, or even your spouse? Maybe you are seeing the increase of lawlessness in our society and it is causing you to care less about others, maybe even tempting you to draw away from the Church? Wherever you find yourself today, I want to encourage you to continue running the race and endure to the end (Matthew 24:13).
I know that it is easy to want to give up and quit especially as the church around us continues to conform to the standards of the world, walking away from a life in the Spirit. But just know that Christ knows your hurt and your pain and He desires to comfort us in our weakness and distress. Regardless of the sin that someone may have committed against you, as difficult as it may seem to be, give it to the Lord for He is the only One who can heal it anyway.
As we continue to face difficult days of lawlessness, consider your heart and the callousness it may develop, and be careful that your love does not grow cold.