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1 Timothy 6:312, 1719 comment (0)

October 12, 2006

By Jerry W. Batson

Related Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:312, 1719

Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Take Hold of Contentment
1 Timothy 6:3–12, 17–19

Our view of money is too often a source of discontent. Christians without money may have the suspicion that more money would produce contentment. If basic life needs are not being met, that might possibly be the case. On the other hand, the desire to possess money and the things it makes possible to have may keep a person in a perpetual state of discontent. In a consuming quest for possessions, contentment is postponed to an indefinite and uncertain future time.

Christians who possess wealth face the challenge of misplaced contentment. Does contentment really reside in the abundance of things possessed, or is it found somewhat apart from these things? People with plenty may be anxious about devaluation or even the loss of assets. This lesson considers two common thieves of contentment, while pointing us to the enduring source of contentment and the possibility of real living.

Disquieting Selfishness (3–5)

One enemy of contentment is selfishness. Paul’s ongoing concern in his first letter to Timothy had to do with false teachers. In profiling these teachers of error, Paul pointed out that they operated out of selfish motives; they sought to use religion for personal gain.

Has any period of Christian history been totally without false teachers who connected religion and riches? Does God guarantee great riches to people of great faith? When Jesus promised His followers blessings for the journey, He did not speak in material terms; Jesus promised spiritual rewards with eternal benefits. His warning to us is the same as it always has been: a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of things possessed (Luke 12:15). Seeking fulfillment through grasping selfishness always leaves people anxious and unsatisfied.

Contented Godliness (6–8)

Godliness with greed is a moral impossibility, but godliness with contentment brings wealth of spirit. Godliness conveys the idea not only of “Godlikeness” but speaks of a lifestyle that acknowledges God’s claim on our life. It involves giving a Godward reference to all aspects of our life. What does God expect? What is His will?
In our more rational moments, we recognize that material riches do not last forever. At life’s end, we are separated from them — if not before. In the meanwhile, if we pitch contentment on the ground of having all we need, as distinguished from all we want, we can know contentment without compulsion to keep seeking more and more.

Entrapping Greed (9–10)
The trap of greed can be a difficult one from which to escape. Greed puts people on the fast track toward grief, despair and discontent. Christians do well to take God’s point of view about greed; greed is not merely a character flaw — it is sin. A careful reading of this passage makes it clear that money itself is not evil. Money is morally neutral, neither good nor evil. The culprit in the passage is the human love of money. Such greed becomes the root of all sorts of evil. Greed drives people to do ungodly things.   

Grasping Real Life (11–12, 17–19)

This passage about laying hold of life reminds us of what we should flee from, namely, greed and selfishness. On a positive note, these verses tell us what to follow after, namely, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness. We are also told what to fight for, namely, the good fight of faith by which we lay hold on eternal life.

The passage reminds us what to trust in, namely, the living God, who lavishly gives us all things to enjoy. Rather than seeking to be rich in money, the passage counsels us to be rich in good works coupled with generous sharing of what we have. As Jesus said, living like this stores up treasures in heaven. In so doing, we lay hold on real life — eternal life. Several questions can help us assess our values and attitudes toward material wealth. Do I expend more time and energy to gain material items than I do to develop my walk with God? Am I more concerned about how much I have or how much of me God has?

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