Intro: As we preach through the scripture of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, it is not possible for us to adequately consider every directive or truth in the text. The apostle has a lot for Timothy, and a lot for us. Our intended theme for June is found in the first words of 1 Tim. 6:12 – “fight the good fight of faith…” Make no mistake about it, godliness is a struggle, and Paul was calling Timothy to engage in the fight – not a physical fight, but a spiritual battle against personal sin and unbelief.
This morning I want to consider the apostle’s words leading up to v. 12. Why is godliness (i.e. living to please God above all else) a “fight” to be fought? What obstacles do we face?
- Run Away and Fight… Paul’s words might seem confusing on the surface. In v. 11 he instructs Timothy to run away. 1 Tim 6:11 – Now you, man of God, run from these things; but pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. (HCSB) But this is no contradiction. Success in the battle against sin, involves knowing my weaknesses and when to flee from temptation.
- 1 Cor. 6:18 – flee sexual immorality; 1 Cor. 10:14 – flee idolatry; 2 Tim. 2:22 – So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. lee youthful lusts; ( notice flee and pursue)One of the key elements of a battle plan is fully understanding the dangers you face.
- “Run from these things…” The word “flee” (pheugo) means to move quickly and decisively to avoid danger or difficulty. We get our English word fugitive. The present tense of the verb means that he must be on constant guard and always ready to flee.
- What things is Paul speaking about? The NIV renders this section as “flee from all this.” The remote context points to the previous description of the false teachers and the bad doctrine Paul had previously warned Timothy about. But one of the Things contained in the immediate context is what Paul describes as the love of money. What does it mean to flee from the love of money? Does money present a real threat to Christians?
- The Love of Money: Return to 1 Timothy 6. Read v. 3-10 – If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, 4 he is conceited, understanding nothing, but having a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slanders, evil suspicions,5 and constant disagreement among men whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is a great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. (HCSB) Paul’s words here speak to the obstacle that money presents from more than one perspective. Take a moment and consider how the love of money fits into our discussion of fighting the good fight of faith.
- What does it mean to love money? Do you think you are a “lover of money”? How could you tell? It certainly does not mean that you adore the little pieces of green paper or copper coins. A person might collect money and not be a lover of it.
- Money (mammon in scripture) has taken different forms (paper, gold, salt, etc.) in different societies, but money generally has stood as a symbol for human resources, the currency that measures the value of what you can get from other humans – in contrast to what you get from God. Jesus teaches us this distinction by looking at the money itself. Whose inscription is on it? Man’s image, the image of human power (Caesar) and resources. It belongs to the human realm and has not power in the spiritual.
- The obstacle of money impacts our viewof life comprehensively. The lover of money displays a lack of faith in respect of the past,present and future.
- The lover of money and the present: The covetous person is consumed with acquiring more. In this pursuit he follows the world around him and elevates the physical over the spiritual. Eccl 5:10 – He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.
- The lover of money and the past: Loving money is more than just wanting more of it. Gehazi wanted more; Judas wanted more; Achan wanted more, but their problem with money went deeper. The one who wants more now is not satisfied or content with what he has already been given by God in the past.
- 1 Tim. 6:6 – “godliness with contentment is great gain”.. Paul makes a vital point through a play on words. The false teachers (who were lovers of money) thought they could use godliness as a means of making money, or gain, and thereby have security in life. They were mistaken about that, as we shall see. But for the Christian there is a means of gain, or to be truly profitable. Godliness (devotion and submission to God) accompanied by contentment is “great gain”. The NAS version gives us the sense… “ But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.” (NAS) Paul calls for contentment as a defense against covetousness. 1 Tim 6:7-8 – For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. Contentment is a sign that we are winning the battle against the love of money and covetousness. The apostle Paul said in 4:11-13 he had learned to be content no matter what the circumstances of his life. Contentment is not resignation to my circumstances, or lack of ambition. It is not attained through having more .(“I will be content as soon as I get _________.”) Simply put, contentment is being satisfied with what God provides. The providence of God is at the heart of this command. Discontent is not sinful because it makes us unhappy, but because it is an affront to the divine provision. It is indicative of a lack of faith. The richest person is the one who doesn’t need anything else.
- Hebrews 13:5 – Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.“ This is a simple verse, but notice the argument. The commands parallel one another:keep your life free from the love of money andbe content with what you have.
- The command to be content is inherently linked to the command to be free from the love of money because one cannot happen without the other. In order to really keep ourselves free from the love of money, we have toassure ourselves that we already have enough. There’s food on the table and clothes on our back. We’re going to be all right (1 Timothy 6:8). If we lack contentment — then money will present itself as the ticket to more, and we will develop a love for money.
- But we can be satisfied because of His promise to never leave us or forsake us. Which leads us to…
- The lover of money and the future: The problem money imposes speaks to the reason why one would want more of it. He values what he believes it can secure for him for the future. Money is viewed as the source of joy and security for the future. The prosperous farmer in Jesus parable of Luke 12 viewed the security of his future in terms of bigger barns. Luke 12:19-21 – And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”‘ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” He failed to take into account the impotence of material possessions when life is over. Money has no value beyond the grave: 1 Tim. 6:7 – For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out… This is one of those truths that we all accept intellectually, but we fail to live like we believe it. Job 1:21 – And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
- Money promises security but cannot provide it.The Bible warns against being deceived by this. Proverbs 11:28: “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.” Even in this life, money and financial resources are fleeting. Proverbs 23:5 “Cast but a glance at riches and they are gone. For they will certainly sprout wings and fly off like an eagle.” Jesus Christ says, treasures on earth are destroyed by moth and rust, and thieves break in and steal it.
- Thus, money has its limitations. It disappoints now and in the future. It is also limited because it cannot buy what God alone can provide. Naaman, Simon, the Sorcerer, and countless others have assumed that God could be persuaded with money. God does provide all our physical blessings, but we cannot buy God’s blessings with money. They come through His grace. One writer wrote… God deals in the currency of grace, not money: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!” (Isaiah 55:1). Money is the currency of human resources. So, the heart that loves money is a heart that pins its hopes, and pursues its pleasures, and puts its trust in what human resources can offer.
- Covetousness is evidence of unbelief. As such it is an enemy to be confronted in the good fight of faith. The one who loves money places his confidence in money because he thinks it can or will provide for him. This misplaced confidence replaces or reduces the faith or confidence he puts in God as the provider. In another discussion concerning fighting personal sin Paul wrote… Col 3:5 – Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
- The Love of Money is Spiritual Suicide: 1 Tim 6:9-10 – But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction.10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. (HCSB)This is one of the most counter-cultural teachings of the NT. We often encourage our children to sacrifice everything to get a good education so they can make a lot of money. We teach them to seek what is spiritually dangerous. We seldom seriously consider or teach what the apostle is telling Timothy. Wanting to be rich is incompatible with serving Christ. How many people will it keep out of heaven?
- Jesus once encountered a rich man who wanted eternal life, but when Jesus commanded him to sell his riches and donate it to the poor, he rejected discipleship altogether… Luke 18:23-25 …23 But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. 24 And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 “For 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.” Interesting that some have attempted to lessen the impact of Jesus’ words (a camel on his knees passing through a small gate;)
- We notice that Jesus’ statement is not about a man who wants to be rich, but a person who possesses riches. We rightly teach that riches themselves are not sinful, but Jesus gives an ominous warning to those who are rich. Matthew Henry says… This is a proverbial expression, denoting a difficulty altogether unconquerable by the art and power of man; nothing less than the almighty grace of God will enable a rich man to get over this difficulty… It is very rare for a man to be rich, and not to set his heart upon his riches; and it is utterly impossible for a man that sets his heart upon his riches, to get to heaven;
- The Love of Money Breeds other Sins – “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”.
- Note: We might notice the difference in the translation of this phrase. All the older translations (Wycliffe, KJV, Darby, RSV) render it literally as “The love of money is the root of all evils” (or all evil). This is the formal English equivalent of the Greek (pantōntōnkakōn). But almost all modern versions use the interpretive paraphrase: “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” (These include the NIV, NASB, ASV, ESV, NKJV, HCSB, NLT, NRSV, and GNT.) One exception is the New English Translation. It includes a footnote that reads… Many translations render this “of all kinds of evil.” …But there is no parallel for taking a construction like this to mean “all kinds of” or “every kind of.” The normal sense is “all evils.”
- This may perplex us because we can think of some sins that are not associated with the love of money. Sinner was not even thinking about money when they committed the sin – (David’s sin with Bathsheba). But our inability to reconcile the text with our perceptions does not warrant altering the text.
- It may be that Paul makes this statement to point to the connection between greed and a lack of faith. All evil proceeds from a lack of trust in God – the love of money is a clear indication of this unbelief.
- It is hard to imagine a sin that has not been committed for love of money. For more money people have been willing to distort justice, desert their families, take advantage of the poor, lie, cheat, steal, and even murder.
- Paul says those who want to get rich fall into a trap, like an animal taken unawares, and are drowned by their ever increasing lusts like a person caught in the rising waters.
Conclusion: The love of money poses a formidable opponent for the Christian. We will lose if we do not fight hard and ask God to help us. But discipleship is itself a call to make difficult decisions – decisions of faith. What do you love more than Jesus? Matt 16:24-26 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25″For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?