About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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1 Timothy 6

Previous Section - Chapter 5 

   ch. 6:3-11  ch. 6:11-21     


Love And Mercy  (ch. 6:3 - 10)


In verse 7 Paul clearly pointed out that what he teaches is what Jesus taught, or, wanted him to teach.  To those who taught differently, that is to false teachers, he had some strong words for them.  In verses 4 and 5 he says these false teachers are “conceited and understand nothing”.  He also says that these people “have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife…”  He ends these words by saying that these men think “that godliness is a means to financial gain”.  Knowing Paul, who refuses financial help, trying to make money from the gospel when based on greed would be abhorrent.


Pride and conceit is an ever-present tendency, or temptation in the church, especially among preachers and teachers of the pulpit.  The platform and the pulpit found in most church buildings promote the preacher or teacher more than what is being preached or taught.  All eyes are on the speaker.  He becomes the centre of things.  Our style of teaching then becomes a vehicle for pride.  


Paul uses strong words here for those who teach false doctrine.  All the early apostles spoke this way.  They had great disgust for those who did not teach right or taught with wrong motives.  Remember Simon the magician in Acts 8.  Peter was greatly angry at him when he wanted the Holy Spirit for personal gain.   For the most part, such strong words are no longer acceptable in many parts of the church.  They are too negative.    


In verse 6 he gives the answer to such greediness.  He says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain”.  This type of thinking is quite foreign  in our materialistic society.  Paul did not care much about financial gain.  He cared about “Godliness” in a life.  I have always said that if we don’t have an underlying sense of contentment in our lives, and if we always want more, then we will be very frustrated. I don’t think that there is anything inherently wrong with wanting more, but if we don’t have a foundation of contentment, then our desires lead to unhealthy frustration.  If we are truly content with what we have, we can want for more, and if for some reason we don’t get more, then we don’t worry about it. A key to a happy life is contentment with what one already has, not with what he does not have.


I believe a lack of contentment really shows a lack of trust in Jesus.  If you really trust Jesus for all things that come your way, whether good or bad, then you will be content.  Paul learned to be content in whatever came his way, and he had lots of bad things come his way. 


Paul gives a reason for his above statement concerning contentment.  He says in verse 7  that we “brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out”. As we are born, we only arrive with who we are.  We will leave the same way.  The only thing we can take from this life into the next is spiritual and things that pertain to Jesus.


Concerning children, I've always said, that if your children give their lives to Jesus, they are the only physical thing that we can take into the next life.  We need to intercede on the behalf of all our children. 


In verse 8 Paul says that he will be content with simply having food to eat and clothes on his back.  Wow, that isn't anything like most of us would say today.  We need to remember that Paul said this because the only motivating thing in his life was Jesus and the preaching of the gospel.  He needed nothing else.


In verse 9 Paul views riches as a snare and temptation, that lead men into “ruin and destruction”.  It is evident in today’s world that money can buy lots of things that are not good for us.   Money itself is not evil.  But as Paul says, “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”.  This is a better translation than the KJV that says, “the love of money is the root of all evil”.  There is a big difference between the word “all” and the words “all kinds”.  Money clearly is not the underlying reason for every evil that is in the world.


Paul closes this section by saying that “some people, eager for money have wandered from the faith, and pierced themselves with many grief’s”.  Human nature has not changed since Paul's days.  These words apply to us today, just as they did back then.  Misuse of money and pride will always be a temptation for all of us.   All the things we spend our money on make it easy to distract us from Jesus. 


Paul’s Charge To Timothy (ch. 6:11 - 21)


In verse 11 Paul begins to close his first letter to Timothy.  He tells him to “flee from all this”.  “All this” means the love of money that Paul just spoke about.  Love for money should not be found in the servant of the Lord.  One should not desire to work for Jesus because of any financial benefit they might receive.  This was very evident in Paul’s life.  Rather, the servant of the Lord must pursue “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness”, as Paul tells Timothy. 


Too often in today's church we view church leadership as a career.  That shouldn't be.  When we think of it as a career, we have money in mind.  What would happen to a pastor if the church could no longer afford him.  Would he move on?  If he did, then I think that shows that the pastor views pastoring as a career.  Pastoring is caring for God's people, whether you get paid or not.  


In verse 11 Paul told Timothy "to flee" from this temptation.  Flee means to run away from, don't hang around, just get out of temptations way as fast as  possible.  Too  often in today's church we don't flee these things, and we get in trouble for it.  We hang out too close to these temptations thinking they won't affect us, but they do without us even knowing it.    


Note that Paul calls Timothy "a man of God".  I think Paul is emphasizing that a man of God will do God's will not for money, but simply because he has been called to do God's work.  Those who view God's work then as a career would not be seen as a man of God in Paul's eyes. 


In verse 12 Paul tells Timothy “to fight the good fight of faith”.  For Paul this word “fight” is quite fitting.  Paul felt that he was in a battle, not necessarily with flesh and blood but with spiritual powers of wickedness.  We understand that there is a fight to be fought, but do we actually feel as if we are in this fight.  Many of us are not serving Jesus to the degree that we should and so we don’t really experience this battle. Paul was in a daily battle.  Timothy obviously was as well.


Paul continues to exhort Timothy by telling him to “hold  on to eternal life”. This “holding on” is not a passive holding on to but an active holding on to.  Hold on to your faith with all the might you have.  Don’t let it slip in the least.  Paul is clearly suggesting that one can lose his faith if one doesn't hold on to it tightly.


Timothy took hold of this eternal life when he first “made his confession” of faith “in the presence of many witnesses”, Paul says in verse 13.  This confession of faith may be when Timothy first gave his life to Jesus and claimed to trust him for this eternal life. 


Verse 13 says that not only did Timothy make a confession in the sight of many people, but “in the sight of God, who gives life to everything”.  We always need to remember that all we do and say is not merely in the sight of man, but of God as well.  And it is God who gives life to everything, not just to every living creature, as in animals and human life.  God has given life to plants and to every other organism in the universe.


Besides people and God, Timothy made this confession in the sight of Jesus as well, who also made a good confession when He stood before Pilate. What confession is Paul speaking about here?  Pilate asked Jesus if He were a King.  Jesus replied by saying, “you are right in saying that I am a King…” (John 18:37)  The confession that He Himself was a King is fundamental to who Jesus is and to our faith as well.  Our faith is based on the premise that Jesus is Lord. 


In verse 14 Paul continues by telling Timothy to “keep this command” until Jesus returns to this earth. The command that Paul is speaking about is the command to hold on to eternal life and the good confession of faith that Jesus Christ is Lord.  And concerning that day, “God will bring this about in His own time”.  The truth that Jesus is Lord will be evident when He returns to earth as Lord.  


Note the words "in His own time".  I am convinced from all my study of the Bible that God has an exact timetable for all things to happen, and that includes the return of Jesus to earth.  Jesus will not return to earth one second before or one second after God's exact and specific time.


In verse 15 Paul speaks of God in all of His glory.  He says, “God, the blessed and only Ruler (only true ruler in all of the universe), the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (God Himself is Lord over all other lords), who alone is immortal (that is, untouched by deadly corruption), and who lives in unapproachable light (maybe this is the best way to describe God), who no one has seen or can see, (we can only see God through Jesus), To Him be honour and might forever. Amen.”


I like the words "unapproachable light".  Remember, Paul was taken up into the third heaven.  He knew what he was talking about.  Jesus Himself said in John 1:18 that no one has ever seen God except God's Son, and that was Jesus.  God is way to bright for man to see.  I'm not convinced that man will ever see God in His real form.  Men in Old Testament days saw God as He appeared in other forms.  Moses saw Him as a cloud.  Other's saw Him as a man or as an angel, but no one saw Him as He really is.  


Throughout Paul’s writings he has much to say about money as we have seen in the last couple of chapters. In verse 17 he tells Timothy “to command those who are rich in this present world  not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain”.  Even though Paul himself did not accumulate wealth for himself, he obviously recognized that some Christians were rich.  He only warns them not to put their trust in these riches since there is uncertainty with worldly riches.  We are all “to put our hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment”.  The foundation to our lives should be our trust in our God.  Paul says here that He will “provide us with everything for our enjoyment”.  We could ask the question concerning Paul’s life, that is, did God give Paul everything for his enjoyment?  The answer might depend on what one means by “enjoyment”.  Paul’s joy came when he saw people come to Jesus and grow in their trust in Jesus.  Beyond this, I am not sure Paul was interested in other types of enjoyment, if he were, they weren’t depended on material things.  His enjoyment came in things spiritual, whether in Jesus Himself, or his brothers and sisters in the Lord.  So we should be careful how we interpret this verse.  We need to interpret these words in respect to how Paul views enjoyment, not how we may understand enjoyment in today's world.  We also need to understand this verse in light of contentment which Paul has already spoken about. 


We may find enjoyment in having a new car, a new house and cottage, and the latest in all the high tech equipment.  I am not convinced that God is obligated to provide us with all of these things, just to make us happy. 


What we are really to be rich in as Paul states here is good works.  We need to have lots of good works, knowing that these good works don't save us or keep us saved.  These good works must be a result of our trust in Jesus, not a matter of trusting our own abilities.  The good works that count in the eyes of God and will be rewarded for, are a result of our trust in Jesus.  Any other type of good works may benefit those who are the recipients of the good works, but they won't benefit the one doing the good works.


In verse 18 Paul goes on to say to the rich Christians that they need to be “rich in good deeds”, and to be generous with the money that they have.  If  they do this, they “will lay up treasures for the coming age”, similar words that Jesus Himself once said. 


To be clear, Paul does not say that people should not be rich.  You can find that in the text.  He is simply telling rich people two things here.  One thing is to not trust in your riches, and the second thing is to share your riches with those who have none.  


Paul ends this paragraph by saying “so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life”.  By saying this we clearly understand Paul’s definition of what life is, and it is not based on money and possessions.  Real life is based on Jesus, that will last into all of eternity.


Verse 20 begins the closing of this letter with personal remarks to Timothy.  Paul tells him “to guard what has been entrusted to him”.  Timothy has a ministry, a calling, and a responsibility to carry his duties out.  God has “entrusted”, or  “trusts Timothy to carry this out”.  Human tendency is to let things slide after the initial thrill has warn off.  Paul tells Timothy to guard himself so this won’t happen.  Do we really think in terms of "guarding" these days, that is, guarding our faith, guarding the truth, and guarding what our Lord has given us?   I'm not sure we do.


Paul also tells Timothy to stay away “from Godless chatter and opposing ideas … which some have professed and by so doing have wandered from the faith”.  Timothy, and us as well, should stay away from any kind of conversation or teaching that leads people away from Jesus.  An example of “Godless chatter” might be the constant complaining by some about the government of the day.  This type of talk usually ends in arguments, and if not, has no redeeming value.  Worldly philosophies such as post-modernism is another example of something in today's church that is causing people to stray from their trust and their faith in Jesus.  


As I have said before, we can “wander from the faith”.  If we wander so far as to lay aside our faith, we, at that time also lay aside our salvation.  Individual sins, or bad works, do not get us unsaved, just as individual acts of kindness and good works don’t save us.  Our salvation is based on our trust in Jesus.  When and if we lay aside this faith, then we lay aside our eternal salvation.


Paul simply closes this letter by saying, “grace be with you”, something that we all need.  


There are two aspects of God's grace seen in the Bible.  One is well known and that is God's unmerited favour He shows to us.  Simply put, God shows us grace even when we don't deserve it.  The second aspect of grace is not as well known.  This is the God given ability given to us through His Spirit to do His will.  This is not as well known because this grace requires work to be done on our part.  The first aspect of grace is passive, while  second is more active.  May we all have both aspects of grace in our lives. 



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