(Image courtesy of https://www.goodtherapy.org.)
"And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12).
Raising a family is difficult. But why is it difficult?  In past generations, it may have been difficult because food was scarce, perhaps during a time period like the Great Depression. Or maybe it was difficult because dad was away in Europe during World War II. Or perhaps the greatest difficulty was that mom died during childbirth, leaving dad to take care of all the children.

But today, I think the greatest difficulty facing families is inconvenience. I know this first-hand. We have four kids, and I find the messes, the noise, and the general distractions of children to be inconvenient to me. Even now, as I am trying to type this, my daughter is asking me question after question, distracting me from what I want to do. She is sticking toys down the middle of our new couch cushions, crawling over our clean pillows, and knocking things on the floor. And she is trying to tell me that it's raining when it's clearly not. All of these are inconveniences to me.But notice why they are inconveniences: they are inconveniences to me because I am not able to do what I want to do.  I am so incredibly important that I can't serve my daughter, only myself.  And the things that I am writing here are so important that I just must get them written and shared with my readers on the world wide web so that others can learn from my vast knowledge.

Do you see how selfish and conceited I am?  And there are millions more like me.

What we have lost in today's generation is our sense of responsibility; we have lost our sense of duty.

The question is why?

There are two main reasons why I think this is so.

1. Prosperity at no-cost

As a whole, since the industrial revolution, the United States has enjoyed the greatest prosperity and wealth the world has ever known.  Modern conveniences have become more affordable and almost necessary to live.  According to some, if a family does not have access to internet, they are considered impoverished.  Food, shelter, and clothing are no longer the only necessities of life.

The work-week has also seen a change.  Living for the weekend, so we can play with our toys and do what we want to do, is a fairly recent development.  Farmers never had a weekend to look forward to.  I experienced this first-hand when I was farming for a few weeks, taking care of my parents' farm while they were away.  Friday night came around and I thought to myself, "Tomorrow is Saturday!  I get a break!"  I was quickly humbled when I realized that on the weekend I still had to do the same chores that I had done on Friday.  What the farm reminded me of, however, was the sense of duty and responsibility that many of my generation (and new generations) are missing.

Additionally, we love making our homes into our own little castles. Home improvement stores and DIY TV shows are ever increasingly popular. I remember that even my parents - just one generation prior - lived in old homes with old hand-me-down furniture.  We didn't get a new set of furniture until I was in high school.  My wife and I, however, bought brand new furniture before our daughter was even one-year old.  Let's face it: we are enjoying a time of prosperity.  The thing is, we haven't suffered to earn it.  We have been given so much and this can breed contempt.

2. Me-centered lives

My generation was one of the first to grow up using internet, cell phones, and cable TV.  When I was a kid, MySpace was becoming popular.  Today, MySpace and instant messenger apps have been replaced by more me-centered social media like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, blogs, websites, and many other tools to promote individuality.  When I am so concerned with myself, I only grow more inward-focused.  My wants, my desires, and my image become increasingly captivating to me.  This leads me to a place where I do not seek to understand my responsibility to others or to God, but only to myself - and then I want others to help me achieve my wants, believe in my desires, and promote my image.

This human phenomenon is enslaving. It turns me into a little god who must be worshipped. Because I am so important and my beliefs and ideas are so important, I must have others believe the same way as me, and I must have others promote me as well. If not, then I will be offended.  The LGBT community is a good example of this.  This lifestyle is being celebrated and promoted almost everywhere.  It isn't good enough that those who practice sexual immorality now have laws to support their practices; no, they want those who disagree with them to celebrate them or be silenced.

Finally, our societal promotion of self-image and self-esteem by church leaders, teachers, and advertisers has fed into our natural self-centeredness.  I lose my sense of duty and responsibility when I get a prize for breathing air, a trophy for participating, a free government handout that I haven't earned, a pat on the back from a billboard that says, "You are a superstar," and a message from a perverted pulpit that tells me "I am loved, I am amazing, I am great, and I can do anything if I just believe!"

It is interesting to note that Jesus' words in Matthew 24:12 tell us one of the reasons why man will stop loving others: it is because lawlessness will be increased.  The law of God restrains our naturally evil hearts from being completely overrun by sin and selfishness.  Take that law away and we are no longer restrained; we no longer see our responsibility to God and to others.

It is also interesting that Jesus says "lawlessness will be increased."  He doesn't say it will increase, but that it will be increased.  It is as if Jesus is saying that someone will cause this; it won't just happen by chance.  Indeed, God's sovereign control over the events of His creation will see to it that many things happen, none of them by chance.  I think what Jesus is saying here is that the devil will be allowed to increase his dominion on the earth by decreasing man's responsibility to God's law, therefore increasing sin and selfishness.  Hence, the love of many will grow cold to one another, but will increase for oneself.  I think we see this progressively happening even as Jesus prophesied.

So what is the antidote to such toxic selfishness?  It is viewing the holiness of God and humbling ourselves before his majesty!

Man has one chief responsibility: to believe in God and worship Him how He commands us to worship Him (Matthew 28:19-20). We must pursue more of him and less of ourselves. That is the answer to ridding myself of the thought that my kids are inconveniences: think of myself less. God's Word is always true.

"He must increase; I must decrease" (John the Baptist).