Final commands – 1 Timothy Ch6v17to21

Final commands – 1 Timothy Ch6v17to21

This morning, Zach Watt concludes this series on 1st Timothy with Paul’s final commands for Timothy and the church. See transcript below.

(0:00 – 0:45)

Well, let me add my welcome to you all this morning to, if you have a Bible with you or perhaps one in front of you, turn please to the end of this letter that we’ve been looking at over the last few months in page 1194, and we’re in chapter 6. Let me read from verse 17. It’s on the screen too. 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.

(0:47 – 2:44)

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. 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. So, we’ve come to the end of this letter, and Timothy has been instructed by the Apostle Paul on what to focus on as he builds this church family in Ephesus.

And as we’ve seen, Timothy is being shown designs, or we’ve called it blueprints, necessary for the spread of this gospel, this good news about Jesus and salvation in Him, in and through their godly attitudes and behaviours that these things actually were significant, what they believed and how they lived. And over the weeks, we’ve noted Paul’s emphasis on various things like safeguarding the truth that’s been laid down against false teachers and false teaching. It’s covered God-centred worship rather than the things that would occupy men and women as being important in church, and that every member who belonged to the church family should pay attention to their own spiritual growth and vitality, that actually it’s important that everyone takes up responsibilities towards one another, including those who are in need and those who are in leadership.

(2:45 – 3:15)

And as we started chapter 6, Colin helped us a couple of weeks ago to see an example of what we understood to see was a bookend. We’ve been learning in our evening series, Handle with Care, it’s one of these literary devices used to help us understand what’s being said. And so Colin showed us that in chapter 6, Paul is coming to the conclusion of some things that he started at the beginning around false teachers and what we’re to love.

(3:17 – 3:54)

And he says, actually, we are to avoid false teachers and we’re not to love money. But another way to view chapter 6 is through another literary device called a sandwich. And David Wiley was helping us with these things a couple of weeks ago in the evening.

Again, let me reiterate, if you’ve not seen this material, if you’ve not seen online the YouTube or the sermons, then please do access that stuff. It’s really helpful for us as we understand God’s Word together. So, chapter 6, like a sandwich, begins with cautions about our attitudes towards those we give of our time to at work.

(3:55 – 4:40)

It then warns against an attitude of loving money and all the dangers that it can bring rather than pursuing a godly contentment with what we have. And in a sense, that’s the first half, the bread, the first part of the bread of this sandwich. And then last week, Andy Hunter, one of our elders here, talked to us about the meat or the cheese or whatever you put in the middle of your sandwich.

And it’s a positive message. It was a positive challenge to live a godly life and nurture a Christlike character. And we were urged to seriously and purposefully work out our salvation and life with God Himself in the here and now.

(4:41 – 7:06)

We were to make good the confession of salvation, which is to do God’s work, but not just do God’s work, but do it in His way. So, with kindness and gentleness and love and so on, and it’s a positive commitment to follow Jesus and take hold of this eternal life by faith in the here and now, living under God’s rule, because God’s the ultimate authority of the Christian’s life. And as Andy pointed out, it’s a great honour, and it glorifies God.

And that’s the meat to the middle of the sandwich if you like. It’s the high point of this chapter. But Paul reminds us that we are living in a reality of a sinful world, and we have sinful hearts.

And Satan too is on the prowl, seeking to oppose and condemn the church. We live in an environment that’s opposed to God and His kingdom. We are tempted in many and various ways from within and from without.

And so, there’s a final set of warnings, the second half of the bread in this sandwich. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, as we’ve gone through 1 Timothy, the strength of language that Paul used time and time again. Across the whole letter, Paul commands, urges, the whole church should avoid certain things.

In fact, it’s not should, it’s they must and do certain things. And so, we come to final commands. But who are these final commands for? It’s for those who are rich.

In the first half of our sandwich, the first part of our sandwich, the focus was on those who wanted to gain money. Now it’s on those who already have it. And who are these rich? Well, remember Ephesus is a wealthy city in the empire of Rome, and it’s likely some of the converts to Christianity would have already been wealthy.

But Paul is not telling them to get rid of their wealth. His attention is on how they view themselves and their wealth. So, attitudes and behaviour with regards to wealth is in play here.

(7:08 – 8:09)

But before we switch off and think this is not really for me, I’m not wealthy, we need to stop and consider, don’t we? I suppose there’s always someone else we can point to who is richer than ourselves. But I think we need to take an honest look around ourselves and recognize the relative and comparative wealth to the global community, the global church. Wealth is about what we possess.

It includes our houses, our gardens, their contents, the clothes in our wardrobes, the stuff in our cellars, our garages, our eaves, cars, tech like phones, laptops, TVs, it’s the money in your bank. It includes our pensions, the promise of money to come, whether it’s personal or public sector or pensions that are due when we reach a certain age. It includes the wages we earn as we work.

(8:11 – 8:45)

Paul’s earlier command was to not love money, but to be content with what we have, to pay for what we need. He talked of paying for food and clothing and shelter as we are able. In the previous chapter, in chapter 5, Paul wrote about other obligations regarding money.

He writes about the need to provide for those we’re responsible for. So, we are prudent and we save for these situations. But also in chapter 5, we were to pay for the workers and ministries of the church.

(8:46 – 9:09)

So, we’re to give to the church. And elsewhere in Scripture, we know Jesus, for example, commands that we give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s, so we pay our taxes. But what Paul is warning about here, is our attitude and behaviour regarding how we spend our money, what we do with the wealth that we accumulate.

(9:12 – 10:33)

And as we look at this, we remember Paul is not against having or making money, but he’s drawing attention to the warning, a warning really that wealth is significant, for what we do with it is a window into our hearts. What we do with our wealth is a responsibility we are to be careful about. So, the first command is to not be arrogant.

Now, I know we may think, who are you to speak to me about finances? Or this is my money. I’ve earned it. I’ve worked really hard to get this.

I’ll spend my money how I want. Thank you very much. These are the real temptations of our hearts that we can have towards the money and wealth that we accumulate.

You see, in our culture, we are encouraged to feel confident in what we have, our abilities, our capabilities, our strengths, and to be that little bit better than others. A significant influence on the wealth that we accumulate is our work. And a significant influence on our work is our education.

(10:35 – 10:45)

And as we succeed in education and in the workplace, we are rewarded financially with wages. That’s a good principle. You should get paid for what you work.

(10:47 – 11:47)

And other influences on wealth that gets handed onto from within our families. But Paul is warning about the attitude that we may have with the money that we gather. You see, arrogance is an attitude based on what we possess and have accomplished.

And the danger is here that we can look down on others. It’s a belief in one’s superiority. It’s an attitude based on factors like intelligence, or educational attainment, or where you live, or where you were brought up.

And Paul is particularly concerned about the attitude of arrogance as it is related to having money and wealth. Whether it’s being gained through our work or handed down through inheritance. And the danger is that accumulating wealth can deceive people into thinking that their success is all down to their efforts and their abilities.

(11:50 – 12:56)

That’s the way of the world. Financial success leads to an overconfidence in oneself. It breeds a lack of humility and teachability.

It can blind people to their faults. It can isolate them from what is constructive criticism. Because rich ears can become deaf ears, and rich eyes can become blind eyes.

But also, arrogance with wealth can create barriers. They are erected through things like the conversations we can have around money and wealth, and what is on display with money and wealth. And that can be among families, as families would gauge themselves one among another.

But it also can be among church communities too. Differences in finances, like race or age, can challenge unity. And attitudes and behaviours with wealth affect those we are in community with.

(12:57 – 13:18)

And so, as Christians, we are to be mindful of the danger of creating barriers with wealth. The other danger Paul draws attention to is that money deceives the Christian to believe and trust that wealth brings security. So, the next command is not to put hope in wealth, for it is uncertain.

(13:19 – 14:52)

It’s important to work hard and use the abilities that we have been given. Yet Christians are to be alert to the danger of building up and relying on material possessions for themselves. Wealth doesn’t last.

The temptation is that the accumulation of material possessions becomes something of a security blanket. And so, we rely on wealth as a protection from things that can go wrong, or insulation from things that are hard, that are affecting us in our situations and circumstances. And wealth can become a fix for our fears and our anxieties.

Jesus speaks into this issue. He speaks about money much more than we realize in Scripture. And He speaks into this issue when He gives the parable of the prosperous farmer, building and investing for comfort and security, yet it could not save him from death.

Or Jesus teaching people not to store up treasure on earth where rust and moths can get to it. Instead, the command is for Christians to put their hope in God. God is the one in whom we are to place our trust, our confidence, not in material possessions but in God Himself.

God is our Savior. Paul’s been teaching Timothy to teach the Ephesians that all throughout this letter. He is our Savior.

(14:53 – 15:33)

To have salvation in Christ is to have great riches, even if we’re materially poor. The wisdom of Christ is far more valuable than treasure or gold. Other apostles would write about this.

Take John the Apostle, for example. His language, look at the love of God has lavished upon you, you who are His children. Paul writes to the Ephesian church in another letter, and he tells them again and again of the riches of God’s grace poured out on them and of the inheritance provided to them in Christ.

(15:34 – 15:53)

And in a sense, Paul is reminding Timothy and us the truths of who God is are to steer our attitude and behaviour regarding wealth. We put our hope in God because He is our Creator. He’s the one who’s richly provided for our enjoyment in this material world.

(15:54 – 16:16)

And as we’ve seen earlier in this letter, Paul is not commanding Christians to replace living in a material world with some sort of self-denying asceticism. In chapter 4, he warned against that. Rather, Paul commanded the church to be thankful with what you have and enjoy all the material blessings in a way that honours God.

(16:19 – 17:30)

But I don’t think that’s the danger for us in this culture. Here’s the danger. We can believe God has not given us enough for our enjoyment, so we use wealth and spend it on ourselves.

The danger is when good gifts become our focus rather than the giver. And we worship created things, not the Creator. And what Paul is warning about is that wealth doesn’t satisfy.

Yes, we can have lots of things, and we’re able to purchase lots of experiences for our pleasures, but they’re not ultimately satisfying. And the truth of Scripture that Paul is really wanting to get to Timothy to teach this church in Ephesus is that only God Himself is inexhaustibly sufficient for the desires of our hearts and to meet all our longings. He can truly satisfy us with Himself and in the good and wise use of all the good things He has given for us to enjoy, for we live as material bodies in a material world.

(17:32 – 18:50)

But putting our hope in material selves and the material world, it’s like it puts a grey filter, a grayscale filter on our eyes. It distorts our relationship from our God, for we’re tempted to believe falsely that knowing God and enjoying God is just not quite enough. And it distorts our view of God and the good things He has given us for our enjoyment, that we need and must have more, and more, better, and better.

And so, demands for good things, they turn into demands, and they, in turn, turn into entitlements, and they, in turn, turn into expectations for more. And rather than open hands, they become closed over all what God has given us. See, Christians are to be alert to the danger of growing in apathy and a dissatisfaction of God and who He is and what He’s given and continues to give for our good, because other things come and fill the void, like selfishness and entitlement and greed.

(18:51 – 21:14)

And that hole cannot truly be filled, no matter what we attempt to pour into it. It’s an appetite what advertisers feed off. We want bigger and better, things become a must-have, a must-see.

The promise is the same, you need this, you must get to this, you must go and see this in order to be really happy. But it’s not truly satisfying, because amusement or an experience cannot truly replace a life-giving fellowship and enjoyment of God and His good gifts. So, no amount of TV, Netflix series, or no amount of food, or no amount of clothes, or holidays, or possessions actually deliver.

Rather, we put our confidence in God who has richly provided for all our needs and enjoyment. So, instead, Paul commands them to do good, to be rich in deeds and be generous and willing to share. Do good is expanded with these words, that phrase, be rich in good words.

And the words that Paul is using here in the Greek apparently really speak of a thoughtfulness and a diligence, an active pursuit. The command is really about working hard at using the resources you have for the good of others. It’s about making a continuous effort in being abundant towards others.

It’s a regular task, not some sporadic one-off magnanimous gift, but an ongoing obligation of using what we have and considering how best we steward our resources for the betterment of others. And so, giving of our resources is something that we do seriously and with focused attention. It’s not just about money either.

He broadens it now. It’s about what we have, the use of our time, our homes, our energy, our abilities, capabilities. They’re all included in the good deeds.

And the idea of being generous and willing to share is that it brings a sense of joy and enthusiasm. Rather than the closed-handed fist of what I have and what I need to keep, it’s an open-handed attitude. It’s the opposite of being selfish.

(21:15 – 21:26)

It’s the opposite of being reluctant to give away. It’s the opposite of being mean-spirited. It’s the opposite of spending resources to gain for ourselves, and our selfish desires.

(21:26 – 22:22)

And it’s not a, hey, look at me either, but it’s something in which the Christians can actually take joy in because we’re building up God’s kingdom. Do you notice the phrase that we use on all our giving slides week by week? We give for growth, growth of God’s kingdom, wherever that may be, here locally or abroad. And so, we take joy in that because we see God’s kingdom expanding.

And Scripture tells us God loves a cheerful giver. And Paul says this generosity results in great gain for the Christian’s future eternal life and this life here on earth. That’s what he says.

Firstly, verse 19, Paul says, because you do this, you’re in effect laying up treasure as a firm foundation for the coming age. The Christian is to build up real wealth that will last for eternity. That’s what Jesus taught too.

(22:22 – 22:54)

We refer to some of the verses. Let me expand on them. He says, do not lay up for yourself treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The biblical reality is that gaining the treasures of heaven has nothing to do with the riches of earth. And God is concerned that we build on foundations that will last into eternity.

(22:56 – 24:04)

Paul writes about this elsewhere too in the letter to the Corinthian church. He says, each one should build, that is their life, their ministry, what they go about living, they should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hair, straw, their work will be shown for what it is. Because the day of judgment will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.

The only riches that survive and truly last eternally are those things that belong to the kingdom of God. It’s why Jesus went on to say in that passage I read just before says, seek first God and his kingdom and all these other things will be added to you. But secondly, it’s so that the Christian takes hold of the life that is truly life.

(24:05 – 25:43)

We can be deceived to think true life is based on our enjoyment and our pleasures and comfort and ease and money that protects from the shocks of life and insurance against things that are going wrong. And yes, we’re to work hard and be diligent and be prudent so that we can look after those we’re responsible for and enjoy God’s good material gifts. But it’s not to become our sole focus.

It’s not the means to the end. It’s not the purpose and goal of life. It’s not to be what dominates our living so that we are anxious and fearful, overwhelmed and stressed by financial matters.

Jesus warned his followers about this too when he said, lives will become unfruitful, lacking true prosperity when we’re overcome by worries of this life, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for things other than God and his kingdom. You see the blueprint, the design for a truly fruitful life is a godly life which is characterized by a desire for honouring God and loving others that seeks to be godly whether rich or poor. Here’s the thing.

It’s when we’re motivated by God and his gospel of Jesus that we can give so much of what we have away. It’s only when Christians believe they are spiritually rich that they can stop looking at money and wealth as a source of security and satisfaction. And by doing that, we have the life that truly is life.

(25:47 – 26:16)

And so, Paul comes to a final command, a final set of warnings. Because we live in a world that is opposed to God and his kingdom, and that includes our sinful selves and how we oppose God’s rule and truth. We are to fight the good fight of faith, remember? That’s the high point, the meat in the message of this chapter which is against lies and deceptions that are from within and without.

(26:18 – 26:49)

And so, Paul commands Timothy this one last time of where he needs to find the truth and so avoid a final catastrophe, a total departure from the faith. For that’s what’s at stake here. Paul’s already warned of loving money such that it leads to a wandering from the faith, a straying away in verse 10, which leads to piercings and many griefs.

(26:50 – 27:08)

But now the stakes are higher. Now the money is accumulating, and maybe the faith and trust is getting stronger and bigger in that, rather than in God himself. And so, the danger now is departing the faith altogether.

(27:11 – 27:28)

Straying from the path is dangerous enough, but what is held here is the danger of choosing to get off the path entirely. And so guarding is an active task, not a passive one. It’s a duty to preserve, declare, and keep living out what is true.

(27:28 – 27:51)

That’s for church leaders on behalf of a church family like Greenview, but it’s also for each and every one of the church, that belongs to a church like Greenview here too. So, we are responsible too, and we’re to be actively engaged in these things. And love of money and having wealth contempt and distract from the such.

(27:52 – 28:10)

It leads to a wandering and a straying, but more dangerously can lead to a complete rejection and departure from the truth. And whilst Paul does not explicitly talk of eternal death, that’s what is in view. That’s what Jesus warned, as He spoke of it.

(28:12 – 29:06)

The alternative to what is true life to eternal life with God is eternal death and separation from God. And so, says Paul, avoid the ideas and teachings and the culture and the ways of life that are godless. Jesus warned us that where our treasure is, that’s where our heart is, and we can’t serve both God and money.

And as we consider all these things and all the various truths that have been laid upon us through the letter of Timothy, I love the final words that Paul gives. Paul told Timothy what he and the church needed, and it was to live under grace. It’s by God’s grace the believer will see victory and over false teaching and growing godliness.

(29:08 – 29:50)

And we’re called and obligated to learn and grow and see godliness and wisdom increase in our own lives. We’re to be disciplined and we’re to work hard, be self-controlled, train ourselves, sacrifice ourselves to serve others, to be rich in good works, to share willingly and be generous. And we do that by God’s grace.

We’re to guard the truths of the gospel that lead to true life, and we’re to avoid the false ways that lead to the way of destruction. And we do that also by God’s grace. So may the grace of God our Father be with us all and in the days ahead.

Amen.