But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. 2 Timothy 3:9 (NIV).
Take this verse in the context of the section in which it falls, one that talks about godlessness in these last days, then about the kind of people who use their God-given resources to distract people from following Jesus.
In general, people spot a fake. True, some charlatans are especially good at fooling large populations of people for a long time, but even they are eventually found out. And it’s true, some people simply don’t want to admit they are being fooled. When I was a kid, my aunt, Joyce, helped to put a man in Federal prison. She worked at a credit union in a small Minnesota town and noticed when large sums of money were being deposited into the union by a mysterious newcomer. This newcomer had done marvelous things for the town; large civic projects, donations to needy groups, befriending people who were easily fooled. He even convinced the town to rename Main Street – which it had been since the 1850s – to “La Grande Avenue.”
It turned out that he was laundering drug money through the credit union, and when my aunt spoke up (and later testified), there were those in the town who were less than pleased. She spotted a fake; so did others around her. Yet some others didn’t, or didn’t want to, admit the flashy out-of-towner was shady. Even when his criminal connections were exposed, they still didn’t want to admit they had been duped. Over thirty years after the events occurred, the only thing residents of the small down can agree on (if they talk about it) is that there was a lot of folly involved all around.
That seems about right. People who are fake usually can’t snow a crowd for long. Their folly, usually pride, will eventually undo them. Worst of all, they aren’t fooling God, who always sees what they’re up to. News flash, my friend: that goes for you and me, too. God can see what we’re doing; we can’t hide. He lets our world play out as it does yet sees it all and works as He will to advance His Kingdom in spite of us. Those who would oppose him, even in little things, embrace evil, even petty evil. They won’t get far.
Because they never do. Superficially, it seems like evil gets away with it. And all those end-times prophecies tell us that things won’t get better until after the end. In fact, they’ll get worse. But people can spot evil, can spot a fake, even when they don’t want to. You and I: let’s be ones who do.
For further reading: 1 Timothy 4:6, 2 Timothy 3:10.
Lord, forgive me for the times I haven’t rejected evil. Help me more and more to spot it, to resist it, and to move forward past it.