A Letter for Our Day - Part 5 The First Epistle of Paul, the Apostle to Timothy
1st Timothy 6:4-5 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
Paul begins this last section of his letter to Timothy writing about honoring masters while still holding the Word to our hearts regardless of their beliefs. In other words, we likely all still have someone we work under in our daily job, or someone we have a load or owe a debt to - and if they don’t agree with the Word, it does not mean we are automatically free from that debt or from listening to their counsel on a matter otherwise. If we as Christians and followers of Christ would act in this manner, it would throw shade on God’s word and we would be viewed as detestable. Paul writes “Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed.” The message is the same as well for those who have believing masters; if you don’t believe, do not despise your superior or someone you owe a debt to just because they believe. You are then doing a disservice to others who may see this believer and find Christ and be saved as well, all because you don’t believe and are spreading false gospel. Quite simply put, this might be one of the original times the advice of, “Do your job and mind your own business, if you don’t have anything nice to say.” was given!
Paul then moves on to discussing error and greed in regards to spreading the Word and quarrels among men. 1st Timothy 6:3-6 is a summary of this. During this time, and even today, people accept Christianity willingly with the idea of serving others as well. The converted Jews at this time were constantly questioning the Word and Christians, much like today still. The law, with its social class separations, had caused many to reject Jesus, because they did not conform to His teachings. We can certainly apply this to our life today. All around us are false gospels, and men and women teaching them boastfully. Paul writes here that we should be wary of them, that they are “proud, knowing nothing”, thinking that the Word is for personal gain rather than helping others. Do you see a trend continuing here as we go along in the Word? Or if you have read my past articles and interpretations? It would seem that teachers of new age, new religious practices focus heavily on person gain, despite this being viewed as detestable over and over again by the Word. Thankfully, as believers, we can spot this readily by keeping the Word close to our hearts and testing everything.
He also writes that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I love this statement. It is not about how much we have, or how others view us, that should make us happy, rather, it is our attitude towards life. We must put our faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and be completely content knowing that whatever we go through, good or bad, will be good for us. This is definitely something I think we all struggle with time and time again, myself included. Often times we think it is Important how others view us to an extreme that we go overboard. Or other times we may not get a prayer answered when we want it be, or something might not quite work out in our favor at the time, or we get bad news and only focus on the bad, without realizing that something better is coming, and something did actually work out better for us.. We must always remember, God is in control. He sees the beginning and the end. We must completely give it to God and not go by our own understanding. We need to give thanks and glory and prayer to God. We need to realize He DOES in fact answer all prayers to our best benefit, even if we don’t think it is.
I’ll share with you a personal example of this. I had spent nearly 13 years in the Bar and Restaurant industry, and the last 5-6 of those years as a General Manager. God certainly blessed me with a GM position 6 years ago when I prayed for it, leaving my first job ever behind where I achieved the status of 1st Assistant Manager. He certainly blessed me again when I wanted out of the new company I was working for, with another GM position within a company with great values and Christian leaders, and higher pay. All the while, for the last 3-4 of those years, I periodically prayed that I could get out of this industry. My career was great financially, it was more so stress related to the specific position and not being content with this job when I thought about myself moving into my 30s, 40, 50s and beyond. I prayed for so long for something else in management not food related, and sometimes gave up and stopped. Sometimes I thought it just wasn’t going to be answered, but I knew God didn’t work like that, and eventually it would come, though I did stumble and get aggravated along the way. When I saved over 2 years ago, I realized even more so that God DOES answer all prayers, and it is not to be on our own understanding.
Now, finally, just a couple months ago, I was hired into the medical field as a Supervisor of Hospital Services. Want to know how great God’s timing is? I was the LAST hire before this current COVID-19 crisis. They have ceased hiring at this company. And had I still been with my last job, it would be months and months before I could have found something in the medical field, because hiring is very low right now, and I would have likely been extremely stressed even more because the restaurants are having to shut down dine in areas and close early, which means you are working with a skeleton crew and cutting hours and dealing with tons of different personalities all in the same boat worrying about the current crisis, and dealing with business shortcomings such as labor variances, food variances, sales, and more. God knew exactly what He was doing with me, and His timing was completely perfect, and the prayer I prayed over and over again had already been answered 7 years ago. Sometimes we just don’t see it yet, but God does, and He ALWAYS has our back!
Never forget - God is eternal, existing outside of the laws we are bound to. He can see the beginning and the end, all at once. He knows all outcomes before we do.
Paul continues on to write about very sound advice. 1st Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. He continues that we should be content with food and clothing, and that desiring to be rich often leads to foolish and lustful temptations. For the love of money is the root of all evil. This advice is very applicable to our life today. I think Paul hits home on the point that big homes and fancy cars are nice, but do not envy those who have them if you don’t, for none of it can cross over with us when we die, and what God has in store for us in Heaven is way better than anything on earth. The love of money certainly is the root of all evil - not to be confused with needing money to survive, rather, the LOVE of it. Some love their money and power so much that God is no longer first in their life.
Paul wraps up his first letter to Timothy here with reiterating that Timothy remember this sound doctrine and fight the good fight by spreading the Word. He advises the rich to be ready to give and willing to share, setting up future generations well, so that they may hold on to eternal life in Christ. Although salvation cannot be purchased, being generous shows one’s faith. A believer trusts God and not money, showing where his heart is, and that he views his wealth on earth as temporary, knowing God is eternal.
Guard the Faith
O Timothy! Keep that which is commanded to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen