Psycho, a Greek word used once in the King James Bible in Matthew 24:12, translated to “wax cold.” Strong’s in usage notes states: “to breathe (voluntarily but gently… by implication of reduction of temperature by evaporation) to chill (figurative) :- wax cold.” Jesus uses this word one time to describe “the love of many” which would grow cold when things got really bad in the world (at a set time but any given time, really).
For years I thought He meant as things grew worse and the world became more deluded, self-seeking, godless and evil, that most people would become heartless, cruel and loveless. I did not give that interpretation a second thought, until not too long ago. While that is what it may mean, and does often happen, I do not now think that is what Jesus meant it as.
I am convinced He is talking about OUR love growing cold; those of us who profess Christ, Christians.
First, it would not be something unexpected. It is quite common for a general populace of any given place and/or time to become self-centered, cruel, ruthless and loveless when evil and immorality abounds (see Romans 1:18ff). Except, apparently, in Japan (research the lack of it when the tidal wave hit there a few years back) what city of any nation does not get looted, burned and generally pillaged during a crisis, natural or social? Such things bring out the worst in most people. Jesus would not be saying anything new.
Secondly, He is giving this warning to His own disciples in an explanation about evil times yet future.* In the context of Matthew 24, Jesus is warning about the rise of evil in the form of: 1) false Christs (24:5); 2) general warfare (24:6); 3) nature’s upheavals (24:7); 4) persecution of His disciples (24:9-10); and 5) false prophets (24:11). His disciples of that time needed the warning, but so do we.
A young man in a store saw a lady he had known for a long time. They had been friends of his, she and her children, and attended the same church. Not having seen her in a long time, he approached her extending his arms to give her a friendly embrace. To his horror, she frowned, stepped back and turned away from him, unwilling even to speak, behaving as if he were leprous. He was crushed, naturally. And she claimed to profess Christ.
She did not turn away because he had children out of wedlock, or because he had been divorced and remarried ‘X’ number of times without Jesus’ approval (i.e., an adulterer), or
because he was co-habiting with a girl or was a notorious slanderer or gossip; he was none of those. No, she turned away because she knew he was homosexual.
It is remotely possible she shunned him as a fornicator or idolater which Paul commands us to do with erring brothers or sisters in Christ who will not repent (1 Corinthians 5), but I seriously doubt it. Doing that should be difficult and painful when we love someone dearly as family in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:5ff) but the frown revealed the only pain she felt was from disgust at THAT type of sin. Besides Paul did not forbid communication. Like some of us, she would have at least been cordial had he been one of the aforementioned sinners. No, her love for him went cold as ice because he was a certain type of sinner.
It is evident that this world is an evil place and getting worse all the time. But when it gets so bad that even saints refuse to love the lost, no matter what sins taint them, the mission of the church of Christ is doomed to fail. The truth is we will never evangelize the world to Christ hating certain types of people, all of whom Jesus died for to save.
I am not telling anyone how they should feel. One has to change the way they THINK before they can change the way they FEEL. If our thinking remains hostile toward sinners, we will continue to feel hostile toward sinners (never mind that we sin also!) and our love will wax cold just as Jesus has warned. And without love, we are nothing and imperfect before God (1 Corinthians 13; Matthew 5:43-47).
Never mind the lack of love the world has – do not allow pervasive evil to put a chill on yours and mine. Let die the pharisaical spirit that was none of Christ.
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” – Matthew 11:19 (HCSB)
“While He was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came as guests to eat with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when He heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:10-13 (HCSB)
* Which some interpret as the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of its temple in A. D. 70 under the Roman general Titus and his legions, while others believe it is speaking to some degree also about the end of the world when Jesus returns or both. (I am not writing this to debate or discuss those points of view so please don’t miss the point I am trying to make).