Sermon on 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19
Text: But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Did you know that money is mentioned in some form or fashion in over 2,300 verses in the Bible? Why do you think that is the case? Why did Jesus speak so pointedly about money in our Gospel Reading this morning (Luke 16:1-13)? Why does the apostle Paul speak so plainly about money and possessions in our text? Why is there so much emphasis in the Bible? The reason is that this is an area where God knew that humanity would have so much difficulty. Dr. Martin Luther noted, “There are three conversions a person needs to experience: The conversion of the head, the conversion of the heart, and the conversion of the pocketbook.” What he meant by this is that people are often willing to submit their thoughts to God and their hearts to God. However, there is often a reluctance to submit my money to God because that’s something tangible. Our text gives us a wonderful opportunity to think about A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON MONEY. Are we 1. Using It To Seek Our Glory or 2. Using It To Seek God’s Glory?
One of the most quoted verses in the Bible is found in our text: “Money is a root of all kinds of evil.” However, that isn’t an accurate quote, is it? If you look, you see that the verse actually says, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (Verse 10) Money is, in itself, a neutral thing. It is neither good nor bad. We also know from the Scriptures that money and other possessions that we have are gifts from our God. We read in Psalm 145:15&16, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” There are many believers that God richly blessed with material possessions, such as Abraham. It is not money that is the root of all kinds of evil.
The problem is, as Paul states, is the love of money. This is the root of all kinds of evil. How is that true? Paul writes, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction . . . Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (Verses 9-10) People become greedy and will stop at nothing to get what they want. There are many examples in Scriptures that bear this point out. We might think of king Ahab who wanted Naboth’s vineyard. When Naboth refused to sell the vineyard, Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, came up with a way to have put to death, so that Ahab could take possession. You might think, “That makes sense. Ahab and Jezebel were manifest unbelievers. You would expect something like that from them.” What about one of Jesus’ own disciples, Judas. Judas was one of the twelve. He had been sent out on missionary trips, like the others. He would have performed miracles, like the others. However, greed slowly took control of him. We read in John 12:6, “[Judas] was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” We see greed in full bloom as Judas agreed to hand Jesus over to his enemies for 30 pieces of silver. He threw it all away for between $91 and $441. Our text says that this greed plunges people into ruin in destruction. The idea behind the word “plunge” is to overwhelm or to drown. We see this so clearly in Judas’ case. He was drowning in despair over his sin to the point where he committed suicide. It all started with a little greed. It ended up costing him everything.
Do we see this danger in our lives? Do we find greed lurking in the corners of our hearts? We might try to dismiss it as being not that bad. Actually, a little greed is a good thing. It motivates you to go after the things you want. However, we note what an insidious thing greed is. Again, look at the example of Judas. He didn’t start off with offering to betray Jesus. It started with a little greed which led to taking just a little from the money bag. Greed will only lead to ruin and destruction.
Paul adds another warning in verse 17, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain.” It is such a common thing in our world to measure a person by the size of their bank account. Those who have more look down upon those with less. They become arrogant. Do we find ourselves doing this? We measure others by what we have. If they don’t have as much as I do, they are less. There is another danger that is highlighted as Paul speaks of those who “put their hope in wealth.” If I have enough assets, I’ll be fine. Yet, it only takes a financial crisis or an accident or a natural catastrophe to wipe that all away. That’s why Paul notes that it “is so uncertain.” Sometimes, we fall into this trap, as well. We find ourselves relying on things rather than relying on God. All these things are, in reality, a breaking of the First Commandment. Because we have done these things, we deserve the ruin and destruction of hell.
How blessed we are that we have a God who loved us so much that he gave of his wealth that we might be eternally wealthy. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Jesus Christ had it all as he was in his throne in heaven. However, he willingly put it aside. He left the glories of heaven to come to the earth to be our Savior. He received everything that was given to him as a gift from his loving Father. He never lorded the fact that he was the owner of all things over those he encountered. He was perfect for us. Then, he gave his life on the cross, so that all our sins might be paid for, even our sins of greed. Jesus’ resurrection guarantees our salvation. Now, we have been made rich beyond wildest imagination. We are God’s children. We have forgiveness. We have heaven to look forward to. We have the privilege of knowing that all of the things that we are blessed with on this earth come from our Father’s hand.
This knowledge gives us a new perspective on the wealth that God has given to us. We can have the attitude that Paul expresses in verse 7, “We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” We realize that all that we have is only transitory. This doesn’t mean that we don’t value the things that God gives to us. We realize that we need to have these things for our daily lives. What it does mean we don’t place all our hope, all our confidence in them. As Paul wrote in verse 17, “Command those who are rich in this present world . . . to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” We also note the love that God shows to us in giving us all things for our enjoyment. God could have given us just the bare minimum. He could have made all food taste like nothing, so long as it nourished us. Instead, however, God gives us all things, including our wealth, for our enjoyment.
As God’s children, we also have a new perspective on wealth in that we go from seeking wealth to seeking to use the wealth to give glory to God. Paul writes in verse 18, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” There are many examples from the Scriptures of wealthy people who used the wealth that God had given them to serve him. We might think of Joseph of Arimathea, who used his wealth to provide the tomb, temporary though it was, for his beloved teacher. There was a woman by the name of Lydia, who was a seller of purple cloth. After she became a believer in Philippi, she used her wealth to support Paul and Silas, so that they could devote their all their time to telling others about Jesus.
We can follow their examples. This is one of the reasons that we give our offerings. God has blessed us with our material possessions. In thanksgiving, we return some of them back to him, so that we might continue to be built up in his Word. We also give our offerings so that others might learn about what God has done for them, both in our area and around the world. This is not the only way that we can say “Thank you” with our money to God for all that he has given us. This giving would include taking care of the families that God has blessed us with. We make use of the wealth that God has given to us to help those in need. In this way, we become “rich in good deeds.” (Verse 18)
God notes the ways that we use our wealth to do good works. Paul concludes this section by writing, “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (Verse 19) This is not implying that our good works are storing up our salvation in heaven. Jesus already accomplished that through his life, death, and resurrection. It became ours the day that we were brought to faith. Rather, what is being spoken of here are the results of having faith in the heart. What we did with our money for others, the gifts to the poor, the concern for the helpless, the support of gospel ministry will be recognized when we enter heaven. This is what faith is. It loves. It shares. It gives unselfishly. It shows what God has made us – heirs of heaven.
We know that Nebraska’s motto is “The Good Life.” What that means will differ from one person to the next. I think if you would ask several people, they would say that the good life is being able to take it easy. It means having all that you want, whether it’s a nice house or cabin someplace, a brand-new vehicle, a boat, or whatever makes you happy. It means not having to worry about what’s going to happen next. That sounds wonderful and, if a person were to have those things, they would be blessings from our God. It’s interesting that Paul concludes these verses by writing that Christians use their wealth “so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (Verse 19) If we want to truly have the good life, it means that we no longer see wealth as the be all and end all of things. It is a blessing that God gives to us, no more or less important than all the other blessings he gives to us. We no longer place our trust in wealth, which is so uncertain, but in God, who can truly help and will always be there for us. We thank God for the wealth that he has given to us and pray that we may always use it to his glory. Amen.
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