Thursday, January 10, 2008

1 Timothy 6

What is this passage all about?

Paul instructs Timothy regarding respect for masters, a right attitude to money, and fighting the good fight of the faith in light of the glory of God.

What can I learn from it?

Despite having written in his last chapter that the church elders are worth double honour because the worker deserves his wages, (5:17-18), Paul recognised that some people will desire to become leaders and teachers with a financial motive in their heart, rather than a godly motive (v5). Paul has some good advice in this chapter as to the right attitude to money. "But godliness with contentment is great gain... But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." (vv6&8) Paul indicates that it is the contentment that we feel with what we have that is the real benefit, rather than having much. This is a classic lesson seen in the gift giving bonanza that we often indulge in over Christmas. Material things will never satisfy us. Being realistic, nothing will satisfy our thirsting natures at this present time, because until Christ's return we all still live in a world that is marred by the effects of sin. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whover drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14) Satisfaction that doesn't wear off is only available from one source: the holy and eternal God.

Paul continues his discussion of money matters with a warning of the dangers associated with a desire to be rich. I am sure verse 10a is well known even to non-Christians: "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." Paul describes the desire to be rich as a trap and a source of temptation to sin. It does seem easy to make bad choices if we have making money as an important goal.

Finally on this topic Paul recommends a course of action if one finds themselves to be rich. They are to "put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share." (vv17-18)

How can I apply this to my own life?

Even though, in our marriage, Jeff and I have consciously made efforts to choose paths that value other things over the acquisition of money, I have had to guard my thoughts well, because it is easy to become greedy and jealous of what others have - even when I only see pictures in sale catalogues or magazines. As we collect our new TV in the next few days, I'll have to watch this even more, being careful about what I see, with advertisements but also just with what programs we choose to watch.

At present, we qualify for various welfare payments from our generous government - and thus have an income measureably below what is considered "good" in this country - and yet it is clear to me that our family is wealthy in many things, having no lack for the food or clothing that Paul mentions in verse 8. Opportunities to be generous and willing to share what I have abound, I just need to keep my eyes - and mind - open.

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