Yesterday we looked at how the love of money is the root of all evil. How how do we kill this noxious weed – right down to the roots?In 1 Timothy 6 Paul not only issues warnings, but also provides us with two weedkillers – one that is more passive (contentment) and the other much more active (godliness). When you put them together you get a blessed formula: godliness + contentment = great wealth (v. 6). The passive weedkiller: contentment (1 Tim. 6:7-8)
There is nothing wrong with praying for an outward sufficiency. Consider the beautifully balanced prayer of Proverbs 30v8: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient (or, sufficient) for me.” Yes, he desires and prays for money, but it is only that he might have sufficient for his family and for doing good in this world. But, Paul is especially advocating an inner sufficiency, an inner contentment, regardless of our finances. Paul is combating materialistic preachers who taught “gain is godliness” (v. 5). This “health, wealth and prosperity gospel” is still with us today, isn’t it?
- If we have much, then God is pleased with us
- Therefore, let’s have a lot and it shows God’s favor towards us
- Gain equals godliness
Paul says, “NO! You’ve got this upside down. Godliness equals gain.” And to build contentment, he urges us to meditate especially on our departure from this world: “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” I think it was John Piper who said, “There are no U-Haul trailers behind hearses.” We come in to this world empty and we leave this world empty.
The active weedkiller: godliness (1 Tim. 6:11-12)
Paul follows his warnings about the love of money (vv. 9-10) with a call to the active pursuit of godliness. Yes, passive contentment kills the leaves and the stems of covetousness, but it’s vigorous godliness that reaches the roots: “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (vv. 11-12). “Flee…pursue… fight…lay hold…” What active and aggressive imperatives. If we are energetically and enthusiastically engaged in building Christ’s kingdom, the weeds of covetousness will not find friendly soil in our hearts.