Devotional # 207. 1 Timothy 6:6-10

Devotional # 207. 9/18/16. 1 Timothy 6:6-10.

Intro. Everyone is searching for happiness (actually they mean “contentment”). This week we will be solely focused on what “contentment” and “godliness” for the Christian looks like.

vv. 6-10. Godliness with Contentment

We come to a very famous verse, “now godliness with contentment is great gain.” We’ve been covering the first part of the equation – “godliness” – through this whole book of 1 Timothy (not to mention elsewhere like Devotional # 201). Think about what Paul has told us in 1 Timothy from the beginning where he confessed prior sins but how Jesus transformed his life (1 Timothy 1:12-17, Devotional # 195). From there how his heart was to see every Christian live a godly life, calling them out when they’re wrong, exhorting when they’re doing well. This bring us to the second part of this equation – “contentment” – which Paul will spend the rest of this section talking about.

First, we see that there can be “godliness withOUT contentment.” In other words we can infer that its possible to be godly but not fully content. And we know that it’s impossible to be truly content without God. Sure, there can be joy in sin (Hebrews 11:25) but ultimately it won’t last (Luke 15:13-15).

Second, we’re given the truthful context of our lives. We come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing (v. 7). The implication is that God took care of us on either side of our earthly life and we controlled nothing (reminiscent of Job 1:21). So while on earth what makes us think we control anything? As rich as your family is or as poor as your family is your basic needs are covered by God (v. 8). Paul gives us the first part of contentment: that we receive the goodness of God providing “food and clothing” with humility. What happens when we ignore that fact?

Thirdly, ignoring that our basic needs are taken care of can lead to the “desire to be rich.” The simplest definition of “riches” is having more of something than others. Our sin nature isn’t satisfied at having enough, it always wants more: a better house, a faster car, a new wife, etc. But all of us have seen others, and experienced it ourselves, the “desire to be rich” makes us “fall into temptation” and “lusts” which end up “drowning” us in “destruction” (v. 9).

As we move into verse 10, let’s consider that there are two types of kids: one finds $5 on the ground and buys ice cream, the other puts it in savings. One can end up with a tummy ache and the other can end up greedy. Both of those kids will grow into adults and have experiences and molding and run-ins with God. There are two types of adults: one gets a bonus and buys a 200” TV; the other gets a bonus and saves it. Both of these can end poorly. For example, the first, has the TV fall while setting it up which breaks his leg. The second, saves the money under the mattress (having gotten cynical about the banking system) and is robbed. Of course these are sarcastic generalities but the point is made – just because you get some money doesn’t mean it should go to your own desires.

These two categories are seen everywhere: spend or save.  There’s nothing wrong with either – in moderation. I’ve heard lower/middle class Christians complain about not having more money but every time they get $10 they blow it. Why would God bless you with more if you can’t handle a little (and don’t give me the, ‘Well, if I had more I wouldn’t blow it’ excuse)? And I’ve seen other Christians who are wealthy but they spend it on themselves (the old, ‘it’s my money, I earned it’ excuse). Sadly, both of these groups of people are never truly “content” (or, dare I say, godly).

This sums up the next famous verse in this section: “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Jesus told us something similar to this in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13 (mentioned in Devotional #26 and Devotional # 59). As always, we must not misquote this as, “money is a root of all kinds of evil.” But it is the “love of money.” I was wondering which of the four Greek words for “love” Paul uses here. But it’s actually philargyria which, in the whole Bible, is only used here and is translated as “love of money” (Source 1). Since that doesn’t give us much looking at the root (philargyros) can help. It means being “covetous” as used in Luke 16:14 and 2 Timothy 3:2 (Source 2). So being driven by a desire for money that is not yours is a root of all kinds of evil. Last week we talked about symptoms, problems and root causes (Devotional # 206). Fausset is careful to note that the English translation “the root” should be “a root” of all evil. The point is that money “is not the sole root of evils, but it is a leading ‘root of bitterness’ (Hebrews 12:15), for ‘it destroys faith, the root of all that is good’” (Source 3).

Unfortunately this isn’t only applying to non-Christians but Paul is specifically speaking to the Christians in Ephesus. Those Christians were no different than we are today. In the United States we grow up with the consumer mentality. What I believe is different from back then is how widespread it is nowadays. Not only are new churches feeding into this all the time but even the established churches have switched to this mentality. We will spend a little more time on this next week with verses 17-19.

Therefore, the mix for the perfect earthly life (godly and content) will truthfully be “great gain” and only achievable for a Christian. As always, I have to be the downer and mention that problems and persecution will still happen but the good news is that the content Christian will take it all in stride and recognize God’s faithfulness.

Conclusion.

In today’s reading we focused on the fact that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” We recognized: 1. The implication is that there can be “godliness withOUT contentment” (v. 6), 2. That we come into, and leave, this life with no earthly possession but God always provides for our basic needs (vv. 7-8), 3. If we don’t humbly and thankfully acknowledge God’s provision we’ll strive after riches which will be dissatisfying (v. 9), 4. There are two types of people: spend or save, and how if those aren’t kept in moderation then you won’t be content (v. 9), 5. How “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” which feeds bitterness and destroys faith (v. 10), 6. How pervasive this is in the American church today.

So what can we do about it? We can note the warning signs in our own lives and in the lives of others. We can take action, through reading the Bible and prayer, training ourselves to desire the Word of God over the dying and corroding new gadgets and possessions that clamor for our attention every day. Next week we’ll talk about fleeing the sins that keep us discontented.

 

References.

Source 1: philargyria,  https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5365&t=KJV

Source 2: philargyros, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G5366&t=KJV

Source 3: A. R. Fausset, partly quoting Bengel, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/1Ti/1Ti_006.cfm?a=1125010

Devotional # 195. 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Devotional # 195. 6/21/16. 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

 

Intro. Last week we discussed how love was the basis of the Law. Only Jesus can point out why certain things are bad and how to be saved from them. This week we can live vicariously through Paul who will tell us about why he needed a Savior and will praise God for being that Savior!

vv. 12-13. Paul never forgets to “thank Christ Jesus.” What does he have to be thankful for? The same that we do, as we’ll read. Jesus “enabled” Paul, “counted him faithful” and “put him in the ministry.” Jesus did all of it.

What makes this more incredible was all the bad stuff Paul had done to Jesus and Christians prior to this. Paul had been “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man” by oppressing believers (see Acts 9:1-2, Devotional # 50). But Paul received mercy because he did it “ignorantly in unbelief.” This means that Paul persecuted Christians because he was uninformed and didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah. But when Jesus confronted Paul about his “unbelief”, and the actions coming from it, Paul responded with repentance (Acts 9:3-20, Devotional # 50). This is how we should respond to God’s offer of grace as we’re about to see…

v. 14. The grace of Jesus “was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love.” This is interesting because His grace is more than we could want or need (“exceedingly abundant”) and is given as a gift of “faith and love.” Any “faith” or “love” that we receive or give to others is rooted in Jesus.

v. 15. This is one of the most famous and impactful verses in the New Testament. It says, “this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” Paul states that what he is about to say is both completely “true” and can be trusted.  He gives us the gospel in a nutshell: Jesus came to save sinful people! This acknowledges many things: Jesus is able to save, Jesus came from somewhere other than earth, that His purpose was to save people and that people need saving because everyone is a sinner.

Paul finishes this amazing section recognizing that he’s no saint instead he calls himself the “chief” sinner or in other words, “the worse sinner.” Was he really the worse? No. Although he felt guilty for persecuting Christians technically no one’s sins are worse than anyone else’s. We must realize that if all we had ever done was stolen a candy bar or if we had murdered someone, we are still sinners. We’ve broken the law that we talked about last week (1 Timothy 1:5-11, Devotional # 194). In a sense we’re all the “chief sinner.” Also see Ephesians 3:8-13, Devotional # 101 for more.

vv. 16-17. Paul starts with “however”, reminding us to think about what he just said – that he is the chief sinner. For that reason Paul “obtained mercy.” His receiving God’s mercy was used to show others that God is “longsuffering.” We’ve talked about “longsuffering” before but it’s important we don’t just glance over it. The word might be easier understood if we reverse the two root words: ‘suffering long’. God suffers long for us. He waits and is patient, with arms outstretched as we repeatedly slap Him in the face and spit on the cross. But God used Paul “as a pattern” for his peers and for all people from that time forward. The people who realized Jesus’ sacrifice and the Father’s longsuffering “are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.” I love that this sentence is written always in the present, looking toward the future! For we who are Christians, accepting Jesus’ sacrifice is past tense but for those who haven’t yet, we look forward to welcoming them to our family of faith.

Paul ends this section with a beautiful and informative doxology. We find three attributes of God, He is 1. Eternal, 2. Immortal, 3. Invisible. He is called “King”, which is a deserving title of the Being that is all three of these things but it also contrasts all of the people that Paul will talk about in a couple of verses (“all men, kings and all who are in authority” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2). Our King’s attributes in more depth are: first, He is “eternal” which means He has always existed as Job 36:26, Psalm 102:12, etc. tell us. Second, He is “immortal” meaning He cannot die as we read in Romans 1:23. I assume Paul is thinking about the phrase “everlasting life” that he just used. Jesus offers us “eternal immortality.” Who else could do this but the King who is by His very nature these things? Lastly, the King is “invisible.” I love this because God is not a man or woman because He would not be greater than His creation and He could be corrupted and enslaved; instead God is a Spirit (John 1:18). If we saw God in His true glory it would decimate us (Exodus 33:20) but this earth was given the physical representation of God through Jesus for 33 years (Colossians 1:15, Devotional # 147). When Jesus left His disciples He said it would be better for them when He was gone than when He had been there because he would send the Holy Spirit to not just be with them but in them (John 16:7-11). For more read this great article by Bob Deffinbaugh.

When Paul says only God is wise, it makes sense. Any person who has wisdom has it because God gave it to them. It’s a comforting thought knowing that our King has absolute wisdom. I’m human, sometimes I have concerns about how God can be good and let bad things happen or why it was OK for Him to act a certain way. But we are reminded that our wisdom is second to God’s understanding.

And for all these things – the same mercy Paul obtained, His longsuffering, His everlasting life, His eternal, immortal, invisible and wise attributes, for all of theses things – God deserves “honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”