Fight the good fight 1 Timothy chapter 6
In Paul’s culture there was a gulf separating masters and slaves but as Christians they were all brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul gave Timothy guidelines relating to spiritual slaves and masters. We can relate his council to employee/employer relationships where employees are expected to work hard and respect their employers and in turn employers are to be fair. Our work should reflect our love and faithfulness to Christ.
Paul goes on to warn Timothy to stay away from those who just want to make money or who stray away from sound doctrine into arguments causing strife. Verse 6 says ‘godliness with contentment is great gain’. What does this mean? To be content with what we have and centre our heart desires on God as only He can satisfy our deepest desires and He will give us all we need. When we put God first and obey Him we prosper and are blessed. It is a by-product of putting God first as He promises to bless us. If our motives are to get rich and chase after money then we can come to ruin. We are to go after God and seek Him and He will bless us with all we need.
The wisdom of God is amazing! We come into this life with nothing and we go out of this life with nothing. Imagine for a moment what it would be like if people could take their wealth and possessions with them when they died! A strange thought indeed! We are told not to store up physical treasures on earth, yet so many people become attached to material things down here and find it so hard to get rid of things or let them go – I find it difficult also!
Money is not harmful in itself but it is the pursuit and love of money that is dangerous because it can lead to greed and it can become a snare and a trap. Many years ago one of my brothers attended a secular humanist course and I went along on a few occasions but it will always stay in my mind that the primary goals of so many of the young men present were just simply to get rich and make lots of money. We need to examine our hearts and motives and guard against pursuing wealth rather than pursuing the King of Kings, who is a good Father and will give us all we need. This reminds us of the scripture, ‘Put first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you’. Put Him first and you can’t go wrong! I was reminded when reading Genesis the other day just how incredibly abundantly God blessed His obedient people. They were literally laden with cattle and possessions and wealth since God multiplied them greatly.
Even though many in the world are pursuing riches, Pauls says to Timothy, ‘But you, man of God, flee from all this and pursue ‘righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness’. We are called to stand out and be different from the world, to pursue heavenly things instead including godly character. I wonder how recently any of us have pursued gentleness for example? God says a gentle spirit is of great value in His eyes. The bible says ‘a gentle answer turns away wrath’.
Paul tells Timothy to ‘fight the good fight of faith’. We are in a spiritual battle but we are on the winning side! We need to guard our hearts and minds from unbelief, fear, doubt. We need to encourage each other to stand firm in our faith and sometimes we will need to come alongside our brothers and sister and help them to keep standing, to keep going, to endure to the end. We need to stay focussed on the goal, reminding ourselves that eternal life is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. We need to remember who we are in Christ, we have confessed Him as our Lord and Saviour, we have been chosen, called and commissioned by Him. Our confession of who we are in Him will help us to stay focussed. We need to determine in our hearts that we will keep our eyes fixed on Christ. Paul is exhorting Timothy to put his hope in God which is the only sure foundation. If our hope is in anything else other that Christ then we are on shaky ground.
Paul tells Timothy that God will richly provide everything for our enjoyment and out of what He gives us we are to share and bless others generously with good deeds. Finally he instructs Timothy to guard what has been entrusted to his care. We are to guard the truth and guard our hearts and our motives. We are to walk away from godless chatter and opposing ideas. We are to stay alert, keeping our focus on Him alone and His Kingdom purposes. This is our No 1 priority.