Proper 21 (26) (September 25, 2016)
- First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
1 Timothy 6:6-19 | New International Version (NIV)
6 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.
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fightof 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. 13 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 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,16 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.
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.
Our reading for this week contains one of the most misquoted scriptures in the Bible — For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. What I’ve put here is what Paul wrote, however we often say that “money” not the “love of money” is the root of all evil. This reading actually puts it all in context. For some reason we humans like to pull things out of context. Probably even more so now since we live in a sound byte culture. It is so easy to take a snippet of something that someone said and turn it something completely opposite.
In this scripture Paul is telling us what is better – Godliness with contentment is great gain. The question here and now is what is the most important thing in your life? What are you pursuing? Paul says that we should be content with food and clothing, and we could probably add a place to call home. Pam and I have lived in various size houses. When we lived in Marion, we were in a tiny house – it was bigger than the houses in the current tiny house craze but compared to the houses we have lived in since, it was tiny. Our current kitchen, dining room, living room is near the size of the entire house in Marion. But we loved that little house. Paul reminds us to be content with what we have. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation. One only has to look around to see the empty lives of those who have spent their lifetime pursuing riches. Paul says that is a trap and leads to ruin and destruction.
Let me balance this for a moment before going on. The “grandfather” of our movement, John Wesley is quoted as saying “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” It is said that over the course of his lifetime he earned more than 6 million dollars. However the pursuit of money was part of his greater mission. Wesley died with enough money for him to be buried. All the rest was given away. Our pursuit of money should be to help others and make a difference – our pursuit of money should always be less than our pursuit of God.
So what should we do? Paul encourages Timothy to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life. This is what living the life of faith is all about. We are not to put our hope in riches – but we are to put our hope in God – pursue him – pursue his righteousness – pursue his godliness – pursue his love – and do that with endurance …perseverance…and gentleness.
We are told to put our hope in God because he richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. We are commanded – instead of hoarding for ourselves – to be rich in good deeds – to do good (we need that in our world – especially in light of recent events) – to be generous and to share. Why? As Jesus commanded we are to lay up our treasures in heaven…where the rust and moth do not destroy. I like how Paul finishes out this section…”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.”
What are you pursuing today? Are you pursuing temporary treasures that you lay up here? Or are you pursuing the treasures that we can lay up in heaven? Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.