In a familiar passage from 2 Timothy 3:1-4 the Greek root phil appears in many words. Phil means “to like,” and the NIV tries to capture this theme by repeating the English word love. Here it is with the love-words in bold:
2 Timothy 3:1-4 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—
I think we should be able to see the underlying theme of liking or loving in these descriptors as well: “boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful.” People who fit these descriptions do not exhibit love in the most basic and righteous ways. They love only themselves. They’re conceited.
The last descriptor in the list — “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” — seems to sum up the whole list. People will be ruled by their personal preferences. Their only lord will be what they like. In the end days the only important question for a lot of people will be “Do I like it?” And as “Lord Like” dominates the world, times will become terribly challenging for believers.
Our devotion to Christ must reach far beyond liking Him, liking His commandments, liking His people, liking worship, or liking His body. “Liking” comes and goes. Godly love, on the other hand, perseveres. “Liking” is fickle and changes. Godly love is determined to do right no matter what. “Liking” puts self at the center of all concerns. Godly love puts God first, others second, and self last.
Lord of Heaven, we do like You. We do like serving You. But we are determined to do more. We desire greater depth in our devotion to You. Give us grace to love You and others ahead of ourselves.