Paul continues to give detailed, God-given instructions as to how we are to deal with one another. Today our culture and society is divided by what is being called “identity politics”. This is tendency of people sharing a particular- racial, religious, ethnic, social or cultural identity to form exclusive political alliances for the purpose of promoting their particular interest. This also includes generational differences, sexual preferences and economic status.
Many believe today in the 21st century it has become the most divisive movement in our country. Yet we forget just 159 years ago, our country was divided against itself in the Civil War which was the bloodiest and most costly war in terms of lives lost, the United States has ever fought in. Jesus said by this will men know you are my disciples that you love one another. Jesus went further and said we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. These are instructions for Christians. And if ever there was a time for the Church to be light and salt, it is today.
Deacons came into being as a result of a group of church members feeling neglected by the church staff. (Acts 6) Paul is giving Timothy and the Church instructions on how to deal with different kinds of people in the church without showing favoritism to any one group. The church is a family of all ages. Treat the older members like they were your father and mother. Treat the younger members like they were your brothers and sisters. Sometimes when facing options for treatment, a doctor might tell the patient if you were my father or mother, this is what I would do for you. This is the way we are to treat others- as family.
The church was very concerned about widows and how to care for them. Instructions here deal with age of the widow, her immediate family and also her financial situation. Paul cautioned Timothy to be wise with the church’s resources and not waste its resources on people who are not in need. In Galatians 6:10, Paul writes the church should do good unto all, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Many widows are the backbone of the church who are faithful to pray, visit the sick and homebound, and teach other young women and children. Paul also instructs the young widows should seek to remarry and have children.
We must honor our parents and grandparents and great grandparents and seek to provide for them if they have needs. When there is sickness and handicap, professional care is necessary. These are difficult decisions which each family must decide what is God’s will. The important thing is that believers show love and concern and do all they can to help each other.
We can see from Paul’s instruction to Timothy was having a hard time and perhaps even had caused him some sickness. As a side note, Paul’s advice to take a little wine with water for his stomach was for medicinal purposes. It is not an endorsement of alcohol or an encouragement for social drinking. Drunkenness is a sin and can only be avoided by abstinence. Remember when looking at what is a “gray area” of activity ask these questions: can this activity be habit forming? If so, can this habit lead to dissipation? Will this activity damage my Christian testimony? Will it cause a weaker brother to stumble?
Paul then addresses the topic of pay and discipline.
- Paying the elders: elders worked full time in the early church, what we would consider as full time staff. They deserved payment. Today the term “elders” refers to laymen who have full time vocations but assist in the work of the church. These are not paid.
- Disciplining the elders. Church discipline is either non-existent today or some rule as dictators. There are many scriptures which are explained in Matthew 18:15-18; Romans 16:17-18; I Corinthians 5.
In the disciplining of members or elders, the purpose is always restoration, not revenge. We want repentance and return not to drive them away. Our attitude must be one of love and tenderness. In fact the use of the word “restore” means to “set a broken bone.”
Paul cautions Timothy and us to be sure of the facts and have witnesses. Any one making an accusation must back it up with witnesses. Rumors and suspicion are the earmarks of gossip and as we know a tongue can set a fire and create great damage. In all these things, we must obey the Word of God, no matter what our personal feelings are.
In I Timothy 6, Paul deals with the relationship of believers to others. Slavery is an issue still debated in our country over 150 years after it was abolished. Does the Bible condone slavery? No. Over half the population under the Roman Empire at the time of this writing were slaves. Paul states in Galatians we are one in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female. Some slavery resulted from the indebtedness which could not be paid back and the borrower became the servant of the other in order to pay back what was owed. Others resulted as a result of the hardened hearts of men and their desire to have cheap labor and increase their riches. The Bible is not condoning slavery, but deals with the reality of the relationship between slave and master. Paul’s instructions are for both the servant/slave and master when both are Christian. Divorce is not condoned or encouraged by the Bible, but instructions are given for when and how it occurs. In relationships involving Christians, God deals with the realities of day. When Christians are involved what we should see is mutual respect, and reciprocal attitudes between employer and employee. Mutual submission is the example set before us at Calvary where God in His love and grace gave His son up for us, that we might give ourselves to Him. The wife who loves her husband and places his good before hers, will find a husband who loves her like Christ loved the church and gave his life for her. The same is true of the servant or slave and their master when both are Christian.
This is really about one of the most debated topics in today’s identity politics. The employer and the employee. The relationship of capital to labor. The Christian employee should give their employer a full day’s work. The Christian employer should treat his employees with respect and honor and be fair in paying them. Today greed has created the corporations which are driven to please their investors, rather than their employees and their family. Nothing makes stocks go up more than laying off employees and closing plants.
In the relationship Paul is addressing is between a Christian servant or slave and the Christian master. The bondservant is to count his master worthy of honor and full respect, so that God’s name and Christian teaching may not be slandered. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul tells the masters this principle for believers, whether servant or master: ‘whatever good one does, he will receive the same for the Lord, whether he is slave or free.’ So ultimately as believer we are to do what we do with all our might to the glory of God, regardless if one is free or slave, employee or employers. There is mutual blessing, when Christians serve each other in the will of God. And even if your employer or employee is not a believer, we are to treat them with respect.
GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT IS GREAT GAIN
Contentment is defined as “an inner sufficiency that keeps us at peace in spite of outward circumstances.” Paul used this same word, contentment; when he wrote: “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”(Phil 4:11) True contentment comes from godliness in the heart, not wealth in the hand. Godliness is the pursuit of holiness, true holy living in and under the power of the Spirit. *Notice contentment is learned. It is learned by experiencing both plenty and being in want.
Material possessions have a way of losing appeal. Ever ask your parents when you were a child for something and tell them you would never ask for anything again? Then perhaps you got this you desired so and found out in six months it has lost its appeal. It is a statistical fact wealthy people have a higher rate of divorce, go to psychiatrists more often and are more prone to commit suicide. Wealth is not lasting. We brought nothing into this world and we can carry nothing out of it. When one’s spirit leaves his or her body at death, it can take nothing with it because when we were born, we came into this world with nothing- not even a stitch of clothing. We are advised by the One who is called Wonderful Counselor not to lay up treasure here on earth, for they will be consumed by rust or thieves. Instead to lay up heaven, where neither thieves can steal nor rust corrupt and we can enjoy them forever.
Having food and clothing, with these be content. Clothing is also referred to as covering. So with are to have food, clothing and c covering/ shelter. These are our basic needs. Why do we buy what we buy? Do we need it? or just want it? Technology has given us things we did not know we needed and now cannot live without, or think we cannot live without. Judas was a man who knew the price of everything. He knew how much money Mary’s alabaster box of expensive perfume was worth. He knew the price of everything, the value of nothing.
THE LOVE OF MONEY
Let us pay close attention to the next two verses. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Money is not evil, it is amoral. It is the love of money that is a root of all kinds of evil. Money is used as a measure of one’s net worth. The greater the net worth, the greater the person? The more material possessions, the greater the contentment? No, we have seen this is not a true measure of contentment or even happiness. Riches will not bring happiness. In fact they only increase the desire for more and more. Paul says contentment with godliness is great gain. Yet if there is a fits-all word to describe the mood and temperament of our culture today, – discontentment would be the word which comes as close to fitting as any.
People are discontent with their lives, jobs, marriages, gender, leaders, form of government and want it to be fixed. They want to be paid more money, more benefits and the debate about our system of government and the economy we have is at the center of the debate. Socialism versus capitalism. The work force is discontented with their pay and benefits while their bosses make much more than they do. Yet Jesus said, ‘the poor you will always have with you.” Trying to create a society where all are equal in every area is impossible.
Isn’t it interesting and noteworthy to review Adam and Eve’s situation. They had everything they needed provided by God. God said there was only one thing they could not have- fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Discontentment is always the work of the enemy who redirects your focus on what you do not have rather than all you do have. When he does this remember this old song – count your blessings, count them one by one, then you will see all the Lord has done. Take an inventory of all of your blessings and thank Him for being so generous. We live in an affluent society and country. Did you know affluence breeds boredom?
We grow content when we see God as our Sole Provider. He promises to supply all our needs. If we do not have it and God has not provided, it was not needed. “ Give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, “ Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of the Lord.” Proverbs 30:8,9.
Psalm 37 says: “Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness.” What is feeding your desires? The Lord’s faithfulness or the materialism of our culture? “Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” If you delight yourself in His Word and meditate in it day and night, he shall plant the desire in your heart and you will see a harvest in due time and your leaf will not wither. (Psalm 1)
- Cleansing: Cleanse yourself through confession of anything hindering you. ( I John1:9)
- Surrendering: Submit to whatever God instructs you to do. Sometimes this is difficult because we want to know what will step two be after we make step one. This is the essence of walking by faith. Abraham went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8
- Asking: We have not because we ask not. Prayer is a will alignment. Not God’s will to ours but our will to God’s. His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light upon my path. It shows me what the next step would be not the ones after that. Psalm 119:105
- Meditating: This is how God’s turns on the light on our path. Think about His Word and the more we think about it and ask the Spirit to open our eyes to see, the clearer our path becomes Psalm 1
- Believing: if anyone asks and doubts he will be tossed about and cannot expect to receive an answer. When we ask, we must believe He will answer. We trust He will show us the way to go. James 1
- Waiting: Faith + patience = promises received. Hebrews 6: 9-12
- Receiving: Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it will be opened to you. Keep on keeping on. Matthew 7: 7&8
Here are some very important instructions Paul gives us:
“But you, O man of God, flee theses things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. “
Do you see the instructions? Flee. (Some sins we flee- Joseph) Follow (Pursue). Fight. (It is a fight to follow and fight to defend.) Public profession.