Sunday, August 4, 2013

True Riches

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 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.                       1 Timothy 6:6-10  NKJV
How many of us are really content with our circumstances in this life?  Do you, or someone you know, feel like there is nothing more worth pursuing in this life?  It seems to me that it is almost a universal desire to want more which motivates us to work to achieve that which we do not have.  It may seem funny, but I thought about this just recently while playing with my new grandchildren. 

They are about six months apart in age, and like most parents, the first milestone everyone wants to see achieved (after sleeping through the night) is to learn how to crawl.  So it was interesting to me to notice that we all were doing the same thing in order to try and get them to do that.  How so?  We would all take one of their favorite toys and set it in front of them, but just out of reach, as a motivation for them to try and crawl to it.
In this passage, Paul is instructing Timothy on the subject of just what we as believers should be pursuing, and I think it should come as no surprise to any of us that Paul makes it clear that chasing after riches is simply a bad idea.  Now most of us would certainly wonder what could be so bad in trying to improve our lot in life, especially if what we are pursuing falls in that category we all know and love called “necessities”.  Paul’s answer to that is made clear in verse seven where he tells us; For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out.”  As often as I had heard this verse as a young believer, it wasn’t until much later that I began to understand just what Paul was trying to tell us.

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  Matthew 6:19-20  NKJV
The principle is really very simple.  We as believers are going to spend eternity with our Father in Heaven.  The question is what makes more sense to you?  Spending your time and effort acquiring what you can’t take with you or depositing assets in the Bank of Heaven where you will have them for eternity?  The danger Paul is warning us about is that by focusing our efforts on acquiring things we do not have, we begin to drift away from our responsibilities as believers.

So what are we to do?  Paul says to spend our time pursuing “godliness with contentment” as something worthy of our efforts.  What exactly does Paul mean when he speaks of “godliness”?
But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.     1 Timothy 6:11-12  NKJV

It seems to me Paul is saying we should be focusing on the internal rather than the external.  Do we really spend as much time trying to become the person of God we are supposed to be as we do trying to acquire the material possessions which the world considers a sign of success?  Paul tells us the best way to avoid that trap is to also learn to be content with what God provides for us.
[Let your] conduct [be] without covetousness; [be] content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  Hebrews 13:5  NKJV

Contentment comes from the knowledge that God is the one in charge of providing for us, and He has promised that He will supply us with all our needs.  Paul tells us this in his letter to the Phillipians.
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Phillipians 4:19  NKJV

If we accept the promise that God will in fact provide us with what we need, then desiring what we do not have is telling God He has made a mistake in not understanding our needs as we see them.  Truthfully I believe contentment is accepting what God has given us and believing He has lived up to His promise to provide us with what we need, and not wanting more.  Paul puts it this way;
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:  Phillipians 4:11  NKJV

Convincing ourselves we do not need what we do not have is made easier by pursuing godliness, and living righteously in God’s eyes.  In so doing, we have God’s promise that He will provide us with all that we need.  True riches are those we bank in our heavenly account, while leaving our earthly needs in God’s hands.

"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'"For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33  NKJV
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