14th May 2020
1 Timothy 6:11-21
“Are you fighting the good fight?”
Paul wrote this letter after he had left Timothy in Ephesus to pastor the church there. The tone of this letter is urgent. He warns Timothy about false teachings and things that could corrupt not only the church but his own faith. As Christians, we should all ensure that we pay careful attention to this.
In 1 Timothy 6: 1-10 he warns against disrespecting our masters (in today’s context this means our bosses at work, leaders and those in authority over us), false teaching, conceitedness and the love of money which he calls “a root of all kinds of evil”. These sins can cause all sorts of trouble and strife. In verses 11-21 he shows us what we need to do to instead. We are told to flee from all of these sins. We should pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Endurance means that we are in this for the long-run. Instead of useless fighting against one another, we are charged to fight the good fight of faith. We are reminded to “take hold of the eternal life to which we were called when we made our confession of faith”. The dictionary meaning of the phrase “take hold of” is something that gains complete influence over us.
We are commanded not to be arrogant if we have wealth, and not to put our hope in worldly wealth which is uncertain. Instead, we should put our hope in God, “who provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (v17). This shows us that God provides over and above our basic needs. He wants us to enjoy our lives! He commands us to do good and to be generous. In this way we will lay up treasure for ourselves as a firm foundation for the coming age (v19).
Have you noticed how the human heart is attracted to outwardly shows of wealth? Think about how many people would attend a church meeting in a fancy hotel or a luxurious house compared to a meeting in a field or a more modest venue? How many of us would volunteer to help out in a slum or associate with the poor and disadvantaged? People tend to flock to places where they can feel associated with wealth. It makes us feel good about ourselves. Some hope to gain wealth or advantage from people who appear to be rich. Unfortunately, many people are in significant financial difficulty as a result of trying to have a lifestyle that they cannot afford. Some Christians may fall for the false teaching that “godliness is a means to financial gain” (v5). We should be careful of our intentions and the deception that we can sometimes allow into our hearts. Those who attain a measure of wealth may indeed become arrogant and some “eager for money, wander from the faith and pierce themselves with many griefs” (v10). Many people want to be friends with a rich person. However, we must remember that appearances can be deceiving. Mark 4:19 warns us that ‘the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful”.
Have you also noticed that gossip and careless talk often result in trouble? Verse 4 warns us about “envy, strife, malicious talk and the constant friction between people of corrupt mind”. Jealousy, the love of money and our own personal sense of self-entitlement may contribute to this. Idle talk of power and riches, especially other people’s, often makes us jealous and envious. Verse 20 warns us to turn away from “godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge which some have professed”. Sometimes we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are wiser or more knowledgeable than others or even God Himself. I have sometimes been informed that we are now living in a “sophisticated post-modern world”. We can somehow choose what truth is because we are so much cleverer than people in the past who had to depend on God’s word. This is utter nonsense and foolishness. God is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light (verse 15-16). He is God and we are not. We need to remind ourselves of this daily. We need to choose where we invest our time and effort and be guided by God’s wisdom. Would you choose to fight the good fight that leads to eternal life?
Has this passage reminded you of areas in your life where you need God’s help? Often the first step in dealing with a difficult situation is by making a confession to God and acknowledging that there are areas in our life we need to change. We can ask God for His forgiveness and for His help. We can do this confidently because we know that God is merciful. He has already decided to save us from our sins through Jesus Christ because He loves us. Thank you, Lord God.