1 Timothy 6:3-21
Paul has several threads in this last section of his letter.
They are woven together, but we shall take the strands
apart to test the strength of each.
If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with
sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the
doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited
and understands nothing; but
he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes
about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language,
evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved
mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a
means of gain. But godliness
actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by
contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we
cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and
covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to
get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and
harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For
the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by
longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced
themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man
of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love,
gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the
eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good
confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in
the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ
Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until
the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring
about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only
Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone
possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom
no man has seen or can see. To Him
be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. Instruct those
who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix
their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly
supplies us with all things to enjoy.
Instruct them to do good, to
be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for
the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life
indeed. O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you,
avoiding worldly and
empty chatter and the
opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge"-- which
some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace
be with you.
(1Ti 6:3-21 NASB)
Paul now gives a description of one who is very familiar to
almost any preacher or teacher of the Gospel:
Often this person has a good reputation in the church, at least
on Sundays. He
appears to be knowledgeable; and frequently can amaze you with a
diversion into the various fine points of Greek translation.
Before we can deal with this, we must first identify the
problem. If every
teacher who pores over the Scripture were cast in this bucket
there would be no good ones left.
We shall therefore examine the problem in two ways:
how it is, and how it appears.
the problem appears.
The first evidence of the problem comes in a difference of
difference is usually not trivial, but it is argued on trivial
points. The defining
test of the difference is that this man’s doctrine does not
agree with the clear teaching of Christ.
You might ask how such a position could be maintained.
If you have sufficient ego that you can never be wrong,
little things like facts don’t disturb your argument.
There is a style difference here.
This is a man who loves to argue.
He is much more concerned with winning the argument than
he is in learning the truth.
Often, it appears as if he is having difficulty
understanding the truth.
It’s not difficulty; it’s lack of interest.
He likes controversy, and the more trivial the better.
Controversy inflates your ego; and if you lose, you want
it to be on something trivial.
The result is constant friction.
Paul gives us some of the symptoms:
There is envy. This
is a man who knows that he’s smarter/wiser/better
educated/more in tune – and he’s green with envy of those
who are appointed his teachers.
There is strife – the feud isn’t just this Sunday.
Things begin to take on a personal nature.
There is also abusive language.
This is the giveaway; the tongue that knows how to
sneer and righteously condemn.
And – a bit of self-projection:
this is a man who sees evil where no one else does.
He’s sure that the teacher/preacher is up to
Why? Because he’s up
to something. This
is a man whose godliness is not driven by love but by the desire
for gain – whether an inflated ego or an inflated wallet.
He thinks God’s path the best route to it.
That’s the problem, then.
It’s a love of self, usually found in a love for money.
“More money” is always the target.
This has an unexpected result.
It gives Satan a convenient handle to grab you – and
manipulate you. If
there is something you love more than God and his righteousness
it is easy to tempt you to fraudulent dealing, particularly of
the “it won’t hurt anyone” variety.
The result? Much
grief. The dangers
of greed teach lessons – but those lessons are never learned.
to do about money?
Well, then, is it wrong to have money?
Not if you know what to do with it.
Is it a sign of God’s displeasure if you don’t?
Not if you know what to do with that.
So it boils down to two questions.
should I do if I have money?
The answer in this instance is rather simple:
you recognize it as being grace from God – and you use it
in accord with his will.
Paul gives the rich four instructions here:
Do good. Do not think
that just because you have been blessed from God with much
money that you are exempt for the ordinary duties of a
teaching and commandment apply to you too.
Be rich in good works.
Your money enables you to do good deeds in a way that
others cannot. If so,
you should act like you’re rich – towards God.
Be generous. Always
give just a little bit more than asked; look for
opportunities to give and brighten someone’s day.
Be prepared to share.
Have a little fast food scrip in your wallet for the beggar
you pass. Carry a few
dollars so that when the need suddenly arises, you’re
prepared to give.
(This one can produce surprising results).
should I do if I don’t?
This would seem to be a more common problem – until you consider
how wealthy this nation is.
The American middle class lives in a luxury that is the
envy of the world.
But let’s take this complain seriously for a few moments and see
what the apostle would have us do:
Have a sense of proportion.
You came into this world naked, broke and screaming.
You will leave it and when you do you’ll take nothing
with you. So just how
important is money – compared to eternity?
Be content with food and shelter.
Be honest: is
it really true that you could not get along without your
ride the bus? Have to
have that showcase house?
Indeed, contentment is great gain.
A man is poor when his wants exceed his possessions;
he is rich when vice versa.
The road to riches is in the control of “I want”, not
in gaining “more, always more.”
Paul gives three verbs for the Christian:
pursue, fight and guard.
It’s not just something that happens to you, nor does
it pursue you. You
have to go out looking for it.
It takes work.
You are the child of God; so act like it.
Righteousness and godliness cannot be sustained by will
alone; you will need
the faith Christ gives if you are to pursue this.
What’s your driving motive?
Older whiskey, younger women, faster cars and more
money? Or the love
that God puts in your heart?
Did you think this was a short term action?
Or are you prepared to do this the rest of your life.
If faith, hope and love have a style, that style is
you are the child of the King of Kings; what need do you
have of strife and violence?
We must never forget that we are engaged in
spiritual warfare – whether we want to be or not.
Take hold of the eternal life.
Have you ever had a puzzle which you couldn’t solve
until some sudden discovery?
You might say you “grasped” the solution.
When you commit yourself to God, you grasp the
eternal life in similar manner.
Things make much more sense.
Make the good confession.
Be ready to tell people what you believe and why.
Do this in happy anticipation of His return.
The troubles of this world will be insignificant on
When you have been given something precious, you
take care not to lose it.
That which has been entrusted to you is not
of your own invention.
It is not a belief system you carved out; rather, it
was given to you.
Treat it, then, as a precious gift.
Be on the alert.
Avoid “worldly chatter.”
So many Christians are so verbose on things for
which they have neither control nor contribution.
Finally, avoid “knowledge.”
Remember that you start with what God gave you, not
the latest craze at the book store.
There’s a road that leads up; there’s a road that
leads down. Choose
wisely and well.