Proverbs 12:9

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

Many years ago a man called me and wanted to meet for lunch; he had a business proposition to discuss.

He showed up in a white limousine all dressed up in the latest style… and had a busty blonde “escort” on his arm. He took me to a fancy restaurant and I was “wined and dined” as he made his big pitch; there was big money to be made, and this guy was tossing millions into the deal. All I had to do to make my share of the millions was…

When the bill came, his credit card was declined, all of his cards were declined, and I had to pick up the check; how embarrassing. This guy was all flash and no cash! Another person who was acquainted with the guy told me that he lived off of money invested for his big deals, and that he spent so much on appearances that there was never anything left for the business. I’ve met quite a few people like that.

My guess is that there were people just like that in Solomon’s day too, for as Solomon would have said, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

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Catching up on a few things…

Over the last several days, I haven’t been online much; sorry about that. My un-planned absence resulted from a number of factors I guess, mostly a little bit of “writer’s block”.

The other morning I received a text from my daughter in Illinois telling me that there’s a problem with my house: I called her. It seems that there is water coming through the ceiling making a mess of things.

“Has anyone turned the water off?” I asked…

It seemed that she couldn’t figure out how: Oh my!

Later that night, I found that a plumber had discovered that there was a broken pipe that caused water to rain into lower floors because of a raccoon that had somehow gotten in and shredded the insulation on the pipes…

A raccoon of all things!

I guess there are times in life when you aren’t sure whether to laugh or cry, and for me this was one of them. It has been my long standing policy that when these times come along I will laugh, because laughing is more fun than crying, so I laughed… and still chuckle at the thought… A raccoon!

 

This second point is not a laughing matter; I need your help on this one…

Ever since my return from Illinois, I’ve been filling in on Sundays for a preacher friend of mine, who has fallen ill; everyone associated with him is quite concerned.  His name is Josh, and I wonder if you would join us in praying for Josh’s recovery from illness; will you join us in praying that our God will lay His healing hand upon Josh and restore him to health and comfort his family during this difficult time?

I sure would appreciate it, for the prayers of the righteous “availeth much.”

One last thing for now…

Late yesterday afternoon, one of our brothers in Christ and a dear friend of mine was stricken with a heart attack while out in his yard, and he died. His name was Don Harris, and I’ll do a post about him, probably for tomorrow. In the meantime, will you join me in praying for his family and loved ones, that God will be the God of all comfort for those who are hurting and that Don’s life will shine as an example for all of what it means to be a follower of our Lord?

I’d very much appreciate that as well.

The Greatest Thing Ever

maine

When Jesus went to the cross to pay the price for our sins, it was the greatest event in all of history, but it was surpassed only a couple of days later when He burst forth from the grave!  In shedding His blood on the cross, He paid the price; in bursting forth from the grave, He paved our way!

Because of this, we have the hope that just as He arose from death, so shall we.

It’s really just like the picture.  Can you see the sun bursting forth from the horizon?  Yes, Jesus did just that.  In the Bible, the seas, raging, tossing, churning… represents the world in which we live as it tosses, turns and rolls in its futility.

Yes sir, from this raging and crazy world, we shall burst forth toward the heavenly realm because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross!

Paul’s Concluding Remarks

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. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 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.

1Timothy 6:17-19

Paul finishes up the letter to Timothy with encouragement and exhortation. Those of us who are wealthy in this life’s finances are the special object of these remarks. It isn’t that their wealth is bad, wrong or evil as some might suggest, but rather that it provides both an opportunity and a danger.

The danger is that the wealthy person neglects the faith, thinking that their problems are over and that they have the tiger by the tail; some might even become stingy and fear sharing their abundance with others in real need. Timothy is urged to insist that the wealthy keep their priorities straight, placing value on their work as Christ’s humble servants, rather than regarding their worldly wealth as paramount.

When you think about it, even for those of us who aren’t wealthy as such, it is easy to slip away from God during times when everything is going well. We get the notion that we are in great shape, things are cooking right along and we can easily forget that God is the real source of our blessings, not us. One can only imagine the level of temptation for one who is truly well off.

The opportunity is that there is a great deal of good that can be done with a financial fortune. Paul’s message is that these people need to be rich in good deeds, not just in money.

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.

Grace be with you all.

1Timothy 6:20-21

These last two verses are Paul’s closing comments, personal in nature for Timothy himself. Notice that Paul returns to the mission that Timothy is on: Guard what you have been entrusted with. Timothy is to “turn away” from godless chatter and those false teachings that have caused some to leave the faith. No more of this false teaching in Ephesus, don’t even listen to it!

May each of us have wisdom to follow Paul’s commands!

Proverbs 11:18

A kindhearted woman gains honor,
but ruthless men gain only wealth.

What a fascinating thing to say!

When this was first written down, and for many centuries after, women were second class citizens, not taken very seriously in society in many ways; they were considered inferior to men. Solomon gives us a dual contrast: First between woman and man, and second between honor and wealth. It would have been considered better to be a man than a woman, and whether honor or wealth were to be most prized was, and still is debatable. Certainly, those who would prostitute themselves in whatever fashion to pursue wealth would put wealth ahead of honor, as would the ruthless.

The great irony in this proverb is found in the word “only”. So, you have gone after wealth with ruthlessness and have succeeded; good for you.

A kindhearted second class citizen is better off than you, for you have no honor.

Ouch!

Exhortations

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

1 Timothy 6:11-16

Paul exhorts Timothy to excellent service, telling him to flee from “these things”. Of course, he is referring to the discussion concerning false teachers and the love of money that came just before these verses, and I would suggest that this admonition is one that each one of us should take to heart.

Rather than becoming involved with the evils swirling around false teachers, we are to pursue better things; “righteousness, “godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” This is a typical Pauline message, as we know, one that comes so frequently in his writings that perhaps we take it for granted and let it slip into the background: “Yes, yes of course we’re supposed to do that…”

But then do we pursue those things  do we really fight the good fight?

“Take hold of eternal life” is another imperative for Timothy that applies to us today. By this expression, Paul is saying Timothy should grasp the life he lives now for Christ, as it leads to eternity from this point forward. This isn’t simply something that comes along in the sweet by and by, it is a reality for us today; it is our very existence as His servant. The “good confession” made in the “sight of many witnesses” refers to Timothy’s confession of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

In verse 13, Paul gives Timothy a solemn command “in the sight of God…” which is similar to our “as God is my witness.” Timothy is to keep the command to hold firmly to eternal life, the life of a servant of Jesus who pursues godliness and eschews wickedness of all kinds; Timothy must be blameless in this… as are we “until the appearing” of Jesus. Obviously Paul means both until death or the return of Christ, which will (both) happen in God’s good time.

He wraps up his exhortation with what can almost be described as a doxology as he describes the glory, majesty and power of Almighty God. In this way, Paul adds great emphasis to what has just been written.

False Teaching and Money

These are the things you are to teach and insist on. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

1 Timothy 6:2b-5

We have reached the part of this letter where Paul is wrapping things up and bringing it to a close. He has given Timothy a charge, and instruction in how to proceed and what he should teach the people to repair the damage that false teachers have caused, and now he is making a few final things very clear.

What Timothy has been told to teach, he must teach, and if anyone teaches otherwise, they have problems, and Paul is going to tell us what those problems are. They are “conceited” and “understand nothing”. In other words, they are lovers of themselves. They are interested in creating problems, arguments, quarrels: they are simply troublemakers.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 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. 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.

1 Timothy 6:6-10

This is an interesting little paragraph; notice how choppy the sentences are. Paul is a guy who can write sentences that are almost a chapter long, but here his style is quite different. He is making a point, but what point is he making?

Talking about money all of the sudden is quite fascinating, but we must resist the temptation to do what most people do with this paragraph and forget its context. Has anything been written here that would suggest to you that the context has changed from the previous paragraph to this one? No, this is a continuation of the same thought, the problems of the false teachers. Paul first tells Timothy that we should be content with what we have and not be lovers of money seeking to get rich. He goes on to make the point that people who seek great amounts of money are led into all sorts of bad things: Could he be implying that false teachers are motivated by money?

I’d be interested in your thoughts…