We’ve nearly made it. We started our Call of Duty series eight weeks ago with the purpose of discovering some of our responsibilities as Christians. And as we’ve looked at the book of First Timothy, we’ve found a wide variety of instructions that Paul had written to Timothy and that are now applicable to us.
For example, you’ll remember that we learned that we have a responsibility to pray for our community – and especially for those in places of authority.
We talked about our responsibilities as men and women – and about our responsibilities as elders and deacons in the church.
And last week we talked about our responsibilities to our families and to those in our community who have no family to care for them.
So there have been a lot of things to absorb over these past eight weeks, but I trust that you’ve been challenged as we’ve been reminded of some of our responsibilities and then further challenged as we try to live up to the responsibilities that God has given us.
So if you’re ready for one more challenge today as we conclude this series, let’s pray together before looking at the last chapter of First Timothy.
Let’s read together starting at the end of verse 2.
Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. 3 Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life.
Let’s stop here for a minute because I want to emphasis verse 3. Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that is so important to remember. These words that we’ve been reading for the past eight weeks called the Book of 1 Timothy – they are the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the words of God. We might not like it. Our culture may not agree with it – and some people may contradict it. But the fact remains that these are the Words of God. And because of that, we need to follow the teachings that He gives us. And Paul is so adamant about this that He goes on to say…
4 Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. 5 These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.
Paul has some pretty strong language for people who teach anything different than the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. I know I certainly don’t want to teach anything different than the truth of the Gospel. And that’s why its so important for you not to just accept anything that gets spoken from behind a pulpit, or that you hear on a Christian radio station, or that you read in a Christian book. You have to test it against the whole of Scripture. Because Paul says there are going to be people who contradict Scripture. They are going to cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt. And they are going to look and sound like good Christians just to make a buck. So we need to test these things we hear and see if they line up with what the Bible says.
And then continuing in verse 6, Paul seems to take a bit of a rabbit trail concerning the pursuit of wealth.
6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
Now I want to stop here for a few moments because this is a difficult statement for us North Americans. Paul says, “If we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.”
Now unless I’m really wrong, I’m pretty sure that no one here is starving. Maybe you missed breakfast, but I’m sure you’ll make up for it at lunch time. And I can also see that everyone here is wearing clothes. So everyone of us has met the requirements to be content. Yet the question is, are we?
Maybe we need to define the word “content” first. My dictionary says to be content is “to be satisfied – not wishing for more.” It’s kinda like that feeling you get after eating hearty meal. You’ve eaten your fill and you are satisfied. Even though there is still half a steak a couple pieces of pie left over, you do not wish for any more. You are content.
So Paul is saying, if you’ve got clothes on your back and some food in your stomach, you should be content. You should be satisfied. You should not wish for anything more.
But that’s a little extreme, isn’t it? I mean, that’s good for the little boy in the third world country – if he’s got enough food and enough clothes to wear, that’s enough for him. But I live in Canada. Things are different here. I need a car to get to work. I need a computer to check my email and a cell phone so people can call me. The winter evenings are pretty long in Canada, so I need a 52” inch tv with a subscription for TSN so I can watch the Grey Cup this afternoon.
But that’s not what Paul said, is it? He said, “If we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” I think most of us would be quite surprised how much stuff we could get rid of and still live quite happily.
But you know, that’s not even the point. Paul isn’t trying to tell us that we have too much stuff (even though we probably do.) What he’s trying to tell us is not to love our stuff. Not to get to wrapped up in getting more stuff. Like He said, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into the world and we won’t be taking anything with us when we leave, so let’s not spend our life trying to accumulate stuff. Because not only is it useless, Paul says it’s harmful.
9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
It’s not having money or having those nice things that’s the problem. The problem is loving those nice things. The problem is letting your desires for stuff control your life.
Jesus talks about this in Matthew 6:24…
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
In other words, be careful what you are devoted to. If you are devoted to things of this world – to money, to cars, to houses, to high-paying jobs, to all those nice things – you’re not going to be devoted to God. If getting stuff is your priority, God will not be your priority. And the reverse is true too – if you are devoted to God, then you’re not going to be concerned about getting all that stuff. In fact, just after Jesus said you cannot serve both God and money, He goes on to say…
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
And that’s really the key here. When your primary concern is serving God and living in a way that pleases Him, then God will take care of everything you need. But when your primary concern is serving yourself and living in a way that pleases you, watch out….
…People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
And that’s why Paul says in verse 11…
11 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. 13 And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 15 For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 16 He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.
That Paul can really put things into perspective, can’t he? In essence he’s saying, instead of chasing after earthly wealth, pursue righteousness and godly life. Pursue God. Pursue the One who grants eternal life. Pursue the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Having nice stuff here on earth for 80 some years is nothing compared to knowing the everlasting Almighty God.
And that’s why Paul urges Timothy in verse 17:
17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.
So here’s the application: Whatever wealth or whatever possessions that God gives us – be that a lot or be that just a little – we are to use them as tools for the kingdom of God. God doesn’t give us wealth so that we can be self-sufficient. Or so that we can be comfortable. Or so that we can retire at 55. Instead, God gives us wealth to do good. To share with others in need. To use as a tool to further the kingdom of God. This is our responsibility as Christians.
So the question I want you to think about today is “What are you doing with whatever God has given you?”
If He’s given you a house, what are you doing with that house to further the kingdom of God? Are you invite guests into your home? Sharing your meals with them? Hosting Bible studies or youth groups?
If He’s given you vehicle, what are you doing with that vehicle to further the kingdom of God? Are you driving your elderly neighbor to their doctor’s appointments? Do you use it to take kids to Bible camp?
If He’s given you a cell phone, what are you doing with that cell phone to further the kingdom of God? Do you use it to call up someone just to see how they are doing? Do you use it to send an encouraging text message?
If He’s given you a regular paycheck, what are you doing with that paycheck to further the kingdom of God? Do you buy some groceries for the family who going through some hard financial times? Do you support some missionaries that you know?
And the list could go on. You know, God has given us so much that we could sit here for hours listing all the different ways that we could use all the things that God has given us for his glory. In fact, I’d like to give you a challenge for this next upcoming week.
What I’d like you to do, is every time you see any object that you own, I want you to ask yourself – what can I do with this object to bring glory to God? How can I use this thing that God has given me to further His kingdom?
Ok, so you see your computer – how can I use this computer to bring glory to God?
You see a pen and paper – how can I use this pen and paper to further the kingdom of God?
You see your snow shovel outside – how can I use this snow shovel to bring glory to God?
Do you get the idea? Hopefully, as we do this, well see our stuff less and less as “our stuff” and more and more as “tools that God has given us to use for His glory.”
I want to close this morning with a story. It’s actually a story that Jesus told and I think it fits quite nicely with what we’ve been talking about. It’s found in Matthew chapter 25.
14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.
19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’
21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’
23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’
26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’
28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.
Let’s be good and faithful servants of God. Let’s use well the things that God has given us.