CHAPTER 6- 1 TIMOTHY 6
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I have often heard it said ‘if you’re happy with just enough money to get by, you’re selfish and living in sin, you need to believe God and have faith for increased wealth so you can finance the gospel’. Is this a biblical concept? Should we teach people that being content with what you have is a sin?
Lets look at the word of God HEBREWS 13:5-6 ‘LET YOUR CONVERSATION BE WITHOUT COVEOUSNESS; AND BE CONTENT WITH SUCH THINGS AS YE HAVE: FOR HE HATH SAID, I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE, OR FORSAKE THEE. SO THAT WE MAY BOLDLY SAY, THE LORD IS MY HELPER, AND I WILL NOT FEAR WHAT MAN SHALL DO UNTO ME. This scripture plainly teaches us to be content with what we have! I even heard a prosperity preacher teach that this means to be happy with what you have now, while using your faith to obtain more. WHAT! When will we stop distorting the plain meaning of scripture?
1 TIMOTHY 6:1-12,17-19 ‘LET AS MANY SERVANTS WHO ARE UNDER THE YOKE COUNT THIER OWN MASTERS WORTHY OF ALL HONOUR, THAT THE NAME OF GOD AND HIS DOCTRINE BE NOT BLASPHEMED……. IF ANY MAN TEACH OTHERWISE, AND CONSENT NOT TO WHOLESOME WORDS, EVEN THE WORDS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND TO THE DOCTRINE WHICH IS ACCORDING TO GODLINESS; 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. BUT GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT IS GREAT GAIN. FOR WE BROUGHT NOTHING INTO THE WORLD, AND IT IS CERTAIN WE CAN CARRY NOTHING OUT. AND HAVING FOOD AND RAIMENT LET US BE THEREWITH CONTENT. BUT THEY THAT WILL BE RICH FALL INTO TEMPTATION AND A SNARE, AND INTO MANY FOOLISH AND HURTFUL LUSTS, WHICH DROWN MEN IN DESTRUCTION AND PERDITION. FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL: WHICH WHILE SOME COVETED AFTER, THEY HAVE ERRED FROM THE FAITH, AND PIERCED THEMSELVES THROUGH WITH MANY SORROWS. BUT THOU O MAN OF GOD FLEE THESE THINGS………CHARGE THEM THAT ARE RICH IN THIS WORLD, THAT THEY BE NOT HIGHMINDED, NOR TRUST IN UNCERTAIN RICHES, BUT IN THE LIVING GOD, WHO GIVETH US RICHLY ALL THINGS TO ENJOY; THAT THEY DO GOOD, THAT THEY BE RICH IN GOOD WORKS, READY TO DISTRIBUTE, WILLING TO COMMUNICATE; LAYING UP IN STORE FOR THEMSELVES A GOOD FOUNDATION AGAINST THE TIME TO COME, THAT THEY MAY LAY HOLD ON ETERNAL LIFE. Paul is clearly teaching the concept of ‘you came into this world with nothing, you cant take it with you when you die, so be content with what you have’. I have heard prosperity preachers say that this type of mindset is a religious spirit, and has no foundation in the word of God. This passage of scripture teaches plainly against the mindset of the prosperity gospel. The entire theme and thought of the apostle goes 100 percent against the grain of the prosperity movement. Paul clearly says that some will equate gain with godliness, if he is not dealing with the distortions of the modern prosperity movement, then who is he speaking about? He says that some will equate godly living with financial gain, or they will teach if you’re godly you will gain much money. This is exactly what the modern prosperity movement teaches!
He says that those who want to become rich will fall into many foolish and hurtful lusts. The craving [coveting] to become rich can either be through confessing scripture, through meditating on abundance, through the sowing of seed into good soil or any other means imaginable. The scripture simply says that if the acquiring of money, for whatever purpose [even godly purposes], has become your goal, then your motivation is wrong and you have been sidetracked.
Now the ‘love of money’ verse. 1 TIMOTHY 6:10 ‘FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL: WHICH WHILE SOME COVETED AFTER, THEY HAVE ERRED FROM THE FAITH, AND PIERCED THEMSELVES THROUGH WITH MANY SORROWS’. I have heard it said ‘brother, this says the love of money, not money’ and then the preacher will go right past the warning and talk all about money, not even giving a second thought to the warning! These passages, read in their entirety, give a powerful rebuke against the prosperity movement. They teach us to’ be content with what we have,’ they tell us’ don’t desire to be rich’, they plainly state that the pursuit of material wealth will sidetrack you, and they even state that ‘you came into the world with nothing, when you die you cant take it with you, so be happy with what you have!’ I would exhort any person who is having difficulty breaking away from this movement to read 1 timothy 6 every day for a year and allow your mind to be renewed to the word of God!
One more thing before we leave this chapter, in verse 12 Paul exhorts Timothy to ‘lay hold on eternal life’. He says this in the context of comparing eternal life against materialistic living. He is saying in essence ‘live for eternal things, not temporary rewards [or money!]’. I just finished watching a minister on T.V. spend 30 minutes explaining how the eternal life that Paul is referring to deals with the abundance of God in the area of finances. He flatly said that Paul was teaching us to lay hold of an abundance of money! This type of extreme distorting of scripture actually takes the warnings in the word of God that speak against materialism and turns them around to teach the exact opposite! When our own interpretations of scripture go against the plain flow of the text of scripture, then we have usurped the word of God in order to teach our own traditions!
CHAPTER 7 ‘WERE JESUS AND THE DISCIPLES RICH?’
One day while listening to a preacher trying to prove that Jesus and the disciples were extremely wealthy, he used the common ‘proof texts’ to prove his point. He then went on to explain that religious tradition portrayed Jesus and the disciples as being poor [or average], and that the word of God teaches us that they were really rich. He also explained how important it was for us to know this ‘truth’, because if Jesus and the disciples were rich, and Jesus wants us to be like him, then we are in disobedience if we are not striving to become wealthy!
A simple plain reading of the N.T. portrays Jesus as someone who came with a radical message of forsaking all to follow him. He often approached people who were in business [fishermen], or were rich, and challenged them to leave all and follow him. He would reassure these followers if they forsook all for his cause and the gospel, that they would be taken care of. This same type of radical call continued into the book of acts, where the early followers of Jesus also told the people that to be a follower of Christ they had to forsake all to follow him.
If you look at the overall picture [not the prooftexts!], you see the early Christian community as a people who forsook all for the gospel. You find them living and sharing as a corporate community who took care of each-others needs [ACTS 2:44-47]. You find those who were wealthy [not all of the church, but certain individuals, ACTS 4:32-37] sharing their wealth for the needs of the Christian community. You can even trace the ministries of some of the early apostles and still find them many years later proclaiming Christ through much suffering and persecution. Not only does the N.T. portray the early Christian community in this light, but also church history confirms it. You find the apostles still learning to deal with financial lack many years later well into their ministries [PHIL 4:11-12, 2 COR. 11:27]. You see a beautiful picture of a people willing to suffer for the cause of Christ cheerfully. You also see a gracious Lord who met all their needs according to his abundant grace. You find stories where the material needs of people were supernaturally met [not by extreme wealth, but by Gods miraculous intervention [MATT. 14:17-19, 15:34-36].
Now what about the promise Jesus made to Peter in MARK 10:28-31 ‘THEN PETER BEGAN TO SAY UNTO HIM, LO, WE HAVE LEFT ALL, AND HAVE FOLLOWED THEE. AND JESUS ANSWERED AND SAID, VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THERE IS NO MAN THAT HATH LEFT HOUSE, OR BRETHREN, OR SISTERS, OR FATHER, OR MOTHER, OR WIFE, OR CHILDREN, OR LANDS, FOR MY SAKE AND THE GOSPELS, BUT HE SHALL RECIEVE AN HUNDREDFOLD NOW IN THIS TIME, HOUSES, AND BRETHREN, AND SISTERS, AND MOTHERS, AND CHILDREN, AND LANDS, WITH PERSECUTIONS; AND IN THE WORLD TO COME ETERNAL LIFE. Did Peter personally posses [inherit] more houses, lands, sisters and mothers? How was this promise fulfilled in Peter’s life? In the book of acts Peter became a part of the ‘Christian family’ who had all things common, they shared everything and had no lack [ACTS 4:32-34, 2:44-47]. They had no lack because of their membership in the family of God. The fulfilling of the law of love in their sharing of material things was the fulfillment of Jesus promise to Peter, not making him financially rich!
Look at all the apostolic ministries in the book of acts. Wherever they went, whatever city they ministered in, their needs were always met. Why? Because when they became part of the Christian community, the homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, lands and all the other resources were SHARED by all the believers. They ministered to each other’s needs, they supported one another, they truly fulfilled the law of love by bearing one another’s burdens!
This picture of Jesus and the apostles as extremely rich 20th century American evangelists who headed up big budget ministries is absolutely no where to be found in the plain reading of the N.T.! I just don’t find Jesus and the disciples as rich evangelists going into the world with extreme wealth, while at the same time telling rich people to sell all they have to come follow him! [MATT. 19:23-24,LK. 1:53, 6:24, 16:19-31, 18:18-25]
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