1 Timothy 6 - Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain

INTRODUCTION: Paul addressed the differences and similarities of those at the top of the social structure, and those who are servants. He emphasized that contentment is the greatest gain that anyone can have in this world, as we wait for a much richer existence in the life to come. Lack of proper contentment with what the LORD has provided can become a cause for others to blaspheme the name of God and the doctrine found in His Word. Therefore, Christians should not allow discontentment to develop as a pattern in their lives.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the World English Bible.


A - GODLINESS IS NOT A MEANS OF MATERIAL GAIN

1Timothy 6 "1 Let as many as are bondservants under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and the doctrine not be blasphemed. 2 Those who have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brothers, but rather let them serve them, because those who partake of the benefit are believing and beloved. Teach and exhort these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine, and doesn't consent to sound words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, 4 he is conceited, knowing nothing, but obsessed with arguments, disputes, and word battles, from which come envy, strife, insulting, evil suspicions, 5 constant friction of people of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Withdraw yourself from such."

COMMENTS: Paul directed Timothy to teach the believers at Ephesus about the blessings they had even in their differing stations in life, and that they needed to be aware that their attitudes displayed in daily living was an important witness of their belief in the LORD and for the doctrine found in the Word. He began by stating that the proper role of servants who are believers is to be faithful in all their work, and not to expect to have less responsibility as a servant if their master is a believer. Paul presented a very strong stand on this point as he said those who teach a different doctrine than the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness, are very disruptive with their arguments borne out of conceit and lack of true knowledge, supposing that Godliness is a means of material gain. This leads to envy of those who have more materially, heated disagreements, impertinent disrespect, and unfair suspicions about others. These things characterize those who have corrupt minds that are destitute of the truth in the Word of God. Paul advised Timothy to withdraw himself from such people.

Paul wrote a very similar message about the proper attitude of Christian servants in his letter to Titus who had responsibility for churches in Crete. Titus 2 "9 Exhort servants to be in subjection to their own masters, and to be well-pleasing in all things; not contradicting; 10 not stealing, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God, our Saviour, in all things. 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men," Paul wrote the same general principles about Christian servants (which can apply to employees) in Ephesians 6:5-8, Colossians 3:22-24, and 1 Corinthians 7:21-22.

The Apostle Peter also addressed the subject of serving under the authority of another person. 1 Peter 2 "18 Servants, be in subjection to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the wicked. 19 For it is commendable if someone endures pain, suffering unjustly, because of conscience toward God. 20 For what glory is it if, when you sin, you patiently endure beating? But if, when you do well, you patiently endure suffering, this is commendable with God." Paul told the believers at Corinth that the Spirit of God brings all who believe into one body without respect to how they are viewed in the eyes of the world. 1 Corinthians 12 "13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free; and were all given to drink into one Spirit." The Apostle John strongly underscored the importance of upholding the true doctrine of Christ. 2 John 1 "9 Whoever transgresses and doesn't remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn't have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you, and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house, and don't welcome him, 11 for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works."


B - GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT IS GREAT GAIN

1Timothy 6 "6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can't carry anything out. 8 But having food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But you, man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you confessed the good confession in the sight of many witnesses."

COMMENTS: an Old Testament Prophet wrote this message from the LORD when captivity was very near for the people of Israel. Jeremiah 9 "23 Thus says Yahweh, Don't let the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, don't let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 but let him who glories glory in this, that he has understanding, and knows me, that I am Yahweh who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, says Yahweh." The Lord Jesus warned against excessively and longingly desiring to obtain more possessions. Luke 12 "15 He said to them, "Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.""

Paul wrote in his letters to the Philippians that he had made personal adjustments toward contentment. Philippians 4 "11 Not that I speak in respect to lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. 12 I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need. 13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." This next passage from Hebrews urges believers to place their hope in the LORD and not in wealth. Hebrews 13 "5 Be free from the love of money, content with such things as you have, for he has said, "I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you."


C - REMAIN BLAMELESS UNTIL THE APPEARING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

1Timothy 6 "13 I command you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate testified the good confession, 14 that you keep the commandment without spot, blameless, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; 15 which in its own times he will show, who is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and eternal power. Amen."

COMMENTS: Paul firmly directed Timothy to maintain absolute faithfulness to the commandments until the appearing of Christ because he had been made to be blameless and spotless through Christ for that very expectation. Paul did not make this declaration on his own authority alone, but before God the creator and sustainer of all life; and before Jesus Christ who personally declared his identity as God (his confession) before Pilate. The Apostle Paul had told the idol worshippers in Athens that God is the true source of life, and his short descriptive phrase of God represented only a summary to Timothy who already knew these facts. Acts 17 "22 Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus, and said, "You men of Athens, I perceive that you are very religious in all things. 23 For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I announce to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, doesn't dwell in temples made with hands, 25 neither is he served by men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself gives to all life and breath, and all things."

As Paul reminded Timothy of that truth about God, he also made a brief reference to the words of Jesus before Pilate. John 18 "37 Pilate therefore said to him, "Are you a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this reason I have been born, and for this reason I have come into the world, that I should testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." After Pilate had asked the Jews why Jesus should die and had received their response, he heard more from Jesus. John 19 "7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God." 8 When therefore Pilate heard this saying, he was more afraid. 9 He entered into the Praetorium again, and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Pilate therefore said to him, "Aren't you speaking to me? Don't you know that I have power to release you, and have power to crucify you?" 11 Jesus answered, "You would have no power at all against me, unless it were given to you from above. Therefore he who delivered me to you has greater sin.""

Paul set before Timothy a point of expectation that is still applicable for believers today as he said he should maintain the commandments of God until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. The second coming of Christ is a time to be shown only by the Lord who is blessed with superior power and position to rule over all people of the world. He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and he alone has immortality. He dwells in unapproachable light, to which Paul could have vividly attested as he had that experience of being confronted by the Lord on the road to Damascus. No mortal man has seen, or can see, the Lord who deserves all honor for his eternal power. Amen.


D - SET YOUR HOPE ON THE LIVING GOD

1Timothy 6 "17 Charge those who are rich in this present world that they not be haughty, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on the living God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy; 18 that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life. 20 Timothy, guard that which is committed to you, turning away from the empty chatter and oppositions of the knowledge which is falsely so called; 21 which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen."

COMMENTS: Paul was certainly following solid doctrine from the Lord Jesus as he told Timothy how to advise believers who had riches in this world. Jesus instructed through a parable that riches in the world can become a snare to a believer. Mark 4 "19 and the cares of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful." Another parable from the Lord describes the final result of one who has placed his faith in riches rather than in the Lord. Luke 12 "15 He said to them, "Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses." 16 He spoke a parable to them, saying, "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. 17 He reasoned within himself, saying, 'What will I do, because I don't have room to store my crops?' 18 He said, 'This is what I will do. I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 I will tell my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, be merry."' 20 "But God said to him, 'You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared - whose will they be?' 21 So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.""

A rich young ruler thought he had kept the commandments since he was a youth, and he wanted to know if he lacked anything to inherit eternal life. Jesus set before him the necessity of complete dependence on the Lord from the heart, not by personal achievement. Luke 18 "22 When Jesus heard these things, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have, and distribute it to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Come, follow me."" This was very difficult for a rich man to hear, but another passage from Jesus tells every believer to take care in what they treasure. Matthew 6 "19 Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don't break through and steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

The believer is to be rich in good works, and Jesus gave what may be to some, a surprising application of that principal. Luke 6 "33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive back as much. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil." Paul wrote that doing good should apply to all people around us, but especially to fellow believers. Galatians 6 "9 Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let's do what is good toward all men, and especially toward those who are of the household of the faith."

The Apostle John made a very compelling statement about those who fail to help other believers in need. 1 John 3 "17 But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him?" The Lord Jesus said our good works bring glory to God. Matthew 5 "16 Even so, let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Paul wrote to the Ephesians that we are in Christ for the very purpose of doing good works. Ephesians 2 "10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them."

Paul closed this letter with some of the same points about defending doctrine that he had mentioned in the first chapter. 1 Timothy 1 "3 As I urged you when I was going into Macedonia, stay at Ephesus that you might command certain men not to teach a different doctrine, 4 neither to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which cause disputes, rather than God's stewardship, which is in faith - 5 but the goal of this command is love, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith; 6 from which things some, having missed the mark, have turned aside to vain talking; 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, though they understand neither what they say, nor about what they strongly affirm." Paul knew that reasoning is often affected by the theories of man, and a previous experience for him in Athens illustrates the Greek influence on the society of his day. Acts 17 "17 Now all the Athenians and the strangers living there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing." Paul wanted Timothy to hold fast to the sound doctrine of Christ, not the wisdom of man, just as he had written to the Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 1 "17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Good News - not in wisdom of words, so that the cross of Christ wouldn't be made void. 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are dying, but to us who are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, I will bring the discernment of the discerning to nothing.""

Paul's final word was for Timothy to enjoy the grace of the LORD, and that is something all Christians should realize as a possession as we wait for the return of Christ Jesus. God's grace was available to all children of God even before Christ appeared in flesh. Psalm 86 "15 But you, Lord, are a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth." What a blessing there is in store for those who eagerly await the return of Christ! Isaiah 30 "18 Therefore Yahweh will wait, that he may be gracious to you; and therefore he will be exalted, that he may have mercy on you, for Yahweh is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for him." No wonder Paul could not close this letter without saying a second amen!


--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I want to be constantly aware that my deportment toward those who have authority over me must be motivated by the knowledge that you have set all things in an orderly fashion according to your will. If I am not truly content with the position I have in relation to others, and I have jealousy or envy borne of a desire for more earthly wealth, I dishonor that which you have provided for me. Lack of contentment with what I have in this mortal existence with all material possessions being transitory, would indicate that I have lost sight of the true blessings of an eternal home reserved for me with you after this life. Teach me to unselfishly use your blessings to me in talents and material goods to benefit those you have placed around me who have needs. Keep a strong desire alive in me to read and study your Word so I will not stray into the erroneous teaching that develops from the minds of men apart from Christ. You Lord have given me a sure hope of the indescribable blessings and riches that are in store for those who eagerly await your return. I want to follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness as I fight the good fight of faith. May I show my confidence that you Lord have called me to eternal life, and may that be a witness to those around me who have yet to answer your call. I believe that you Jesus are the King of kings and Lord of lords, and only you can show the time of your return. You are the immortal one who exists in unapproachable light with eternal power and worthy of absolutely all honor. It is your boundless grace and mercy that provides entry into your Kingdom for the ones you have chosen for your own glory. Hallelujah and Amen.

Published 12 July 2013