Theme: Having Godliness with Contentment
In this week’s lessons, we see that the Christian life is one of warfare, in which we are called to flee from unrighteousness, and pursue that which is pleasing to God.
Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:11, 12
Paul tells us to be on guard against the danger of wealth, and to have our priorities right. What’s the cure against putting our own selfish interests ahead of God’s? Paul says the cure is godliness with contentment. What does that mean? It means having Godlike qualities, keeping close to God and being content with godliness and what resources he blesses us with. If God gives other things that enable us to prosper, we are to praise him for that, and use our excess to bless others. But if he does not bless us with wealth, we are to be content with what we have, and are not to strive after more and more. Our main pursuit is a godly life.
There was a Quaker who wanted to teach his neighbors a lesson about contentment. He had a rock on a lot next to his house, and he put a sign on the rock that read, “I’m going to give this lot to anyone who is perfectly content. Inquire at the house next door.”
Eventually, a rather rich Quaker, who had a lot of land, drove by. He was the richest person in the area, and he saw the sign: “I’m going to give this land to anybody who is perfectly content. Inquire next door.” He said to himself, “If anybody is perfectly content, it’s me. I’ve got more than anybody; so obviously I qualify.”
He went next door and knocked. The owner of the lot answered, and the rich man said, “I have read your sign out there. Are you interested in giving a lot to anybody who is perfectly content?” The Quaker said, “Yes.” “Well,” the rich man said, “I am perfectly content, and I’d be very appreciative if you would sign over the lot to me.” The owner of the lot replied, “If you are perfectly content, what do you want with my lot?” Paul is saying that this is a way you can measure your godliness. Are you content with what you have?
Beginning in verse 11, Paul then begins to talk about the good fight of the faith. He does it in two ways. First, he talks about fleeing from the wrong things he has been warning Timothy about. Second, he proceeds to speak about the things that we’re to do. Having talked about the negative things to avoid, he moves to the positive side and lists things that Timothy should do: “…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” Both actions are necessary. We need to turn from the one and strive after the other. We must reject the false teaching, troublemaking, and the desire for gain, and instead pursue those virtues that mark the Christian life.
There is a choice we need to make. If you’re a soldier, you don’t just drift along. The very fact that you’re a soldier means that you’ve signed up to be in the battle. There are things for you to do, just as there are things that you are to avoid if you’re to be effective in the warfare. The same is true in spiritual warfare, what Paul calls “the good fight of the faith.” I am sure that Paul would say of our day that one of the problems with so many Christians is that they never make any choices. It’s a problem with some young people in the church. They hear the Bible taught, they know the gospel, and they’re not rejecting it. But on the other hand, they’re not affirming it very much either in how they live. They go from experience to experience, but they don’t want to walk any narrow way because if they make a commitment to Christ in any serious way, they realize that by following him, there are going to be other things they’re not able to do. They want a sort of neutrality where they do not have to take any sides and so risk missing out on experiences they want to have.
The only difficulty is that two nations are at war with one another, spiritually speaking, and a choice must be made as to which side you are going to be on. In this battle one cannot be neutral. This is what Paul is impressing upon Timothy, and which Timothy in turn needs to impress on those in the churches under his care. As Paul comes to the end of this book, I would say that if there was any message that Paul would press home to our hearts, it’s this need. If you put Jesus Christ first you will say, “I’m going to serve him regardless of the cost and turn my back on other things.” You must pursue a life of righteous conduct. The church needs men and women who will stand up and who will do what is right even to their own hurt.
For Further Study:
What is the cure against the love of money and the dangers that come with that?
Describe the two ways in which Christians fight the good fight of faith.
Reflection: Are you content with what you have?
Application: In what areas in your Christian life do you need to improve?