The main theme in the first letter to Timothy is, “How to conduct ourselves in the house of God,” (1 Timothy 3:15) Or, How to interact with fellow believers. What does church look like? What should we watch out for or what should we strive to do better? Not as a means of earning our favor with God, but because He has given us His favor though we have not deserved it. One thing we need to make sure of is that we don’t get focused on stuff and fail to care for one another!
Love of Money – LESSON AUDIO
James 4:1-6 tells us; “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? 6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “GOD RESISTS THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.’ “
Chasing after material wealth and personal comfort is what James seems to be calling “friendship with the world” here. That is not to say that material wealth is wrong, but living for it is. In Chapter 6 of 1 Timothy, Paul seems to be showing Timothy the things that cause division and enmity in the local church. Those who value the comfort derived from material possessions over human beings are among the offenders. Some actually use the Church to gain, power, prominence or material possessions. Paul says this should not be so!
1 Timothy 6:1-5 Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. 2 And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things. 3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
We should all be humble, submissive and seeking the good of others. Paul uses the slaves of his day as an example of what our own attitudes should be like as we interact with other Believers. (See the Previous Post, Obsessed with Disputes for more on verses 1-5). The main difference is that we should be looking for opportunities to benefit one another and not to reap personal benefits from our service in the Church. When our goal for serving becomes our personal reward, we lose focus and treat property as though it is more important that people. This shows that we are trusting in ourselves and what we can attain rather than trusting in Christ and what He has given us in the Gospel. Paul calls covetousness idolatry as he warns the Colossian Believers about its sinful bent (Colossians 5:5). That is not to say that there is no “gain” in being a follower of Jesus Christ!
1 Timothy 6:6-10 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
It ultimately comes down to this, Are you CONTENT with what Christ has given you, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal inheritance as a member of God’s household, intimate fellowship with Him and with the Father? Or do you need material possessions to give you your identity? Which are you trusting in, Christ or your stuff? You say, “That cannot be what Paul is saying!” Jesus taught this very thing;
Matthew 19:16-26 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” 17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, ” ‘YOU SHALL NOT MURDER,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT STEAL,’ ‘YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS,’ 19 ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER,’ and, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ ” 20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Jesus was not giving a blanket statement for all of His followers to do this here. But He was pointing to where our trust naturally lies. Even as Believers in God, we want to associate His favor with our own comfort level. This is not the sign of His blessing. On the contrary, contentment is! Yet even the Apostle Paul had to learn contentment. He says to the Philippians as he thanks them for supporting his ministry;
Philippians 4:10-13 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Have you learned contentment? It is an act of God through Jesus Christ that brings us to that place. It is a sign of where our faith truly is! When it is not there, we tend to argue and war among ourselves, to fight for power, prominence and possessions! This is not how we should act as Christians! It makes us use one another instead of caring for one another. Yet we must have possessions in this life. God gives them to us, even as Paul says;
1 Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
We can enjoy the possessions that the Lord gives us. We just should not live for them! Part of our enjoyment of them is to share and give them for the sake of the Kingdom of God. To use them to help others and to open doors for the Gospel!. Right use of our wealth demonstrates where our hearts are and where our faith is. I encourage you to listen to the audio of the lesson by clicking on the link below. And I pray that you and I may both learn contentment as we trust in the God who saves sinners and give us an inheritance that is eternal, incorruptible and undefiled, reserved in heaven for us! That He would be enough for us and that we would use the possessions that He gives us for the benefit of others to His glory!
Love of Money – LESSON AUDIO