Sunday, August 8, 2010

1 Timothy 6 - What Do You Pursue?

by Becky

LINK: 1 Timothy 6


This last chapter of the letter echoes the first: both sections address the issue of false teachers and exhort Timothy on how to live. Each passage also contains a doxology, words of praise to God which recount His nature. The doxology in this chapter is in verses 15-16.

The chapter begins with a brief exhortation to "slaves" or "bondservants," telling them to be respectful and work hard. Of interest is a note in the ESV on "slave" from first verse of the chapter: "The Roman institution of being a “bondservant” (Gk. doulos; see esv footnote) was different from the institution of slavery in North America during the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Slaves generally were permitted to work for pay and to save enough to buy their freedom... . The NT assumes that trafficking in human beings is a sin (1 Tim. 1:10...), and Paul urges Christian slaves who can gain … freedom to do so. The released slave was officially designated a “freedman” and frequently continued to work for his former master."

"Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ."
(1 Corinthians 7:21-22 ESV)

The false teachers mentioned here were motivated by love of money - somehow they were perverting the focus of the gospel message in order to profit financially - to get rich. That leads Paul to address the love of money, which he contrasts with godliness.


The word "godliness" is used at least five times in this chapter. What is "godliness"? Godliness is character and conduct that are molded by love and fear of God. A godly person reflects God's character - His love, kindness, holiness, gentleness, and faithfulness.

The love and pursuit of God (godliness) is contrasted here with the love and pursuit of wealth. In fact, we are told not to long to get rich, but to long for God. The craving for money opens us up to rationalize all kinds of other evils and leads away from the Lord. We are reminded here that material wealth (money) is temporary, while the greatest wealth is to be a godly person who is content. Godliness will last!

In verses 17-19 there is some advice for those who are rich. Most of us who live in the U.S. and Canada are rich! "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." (1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV)


Look at the active verbs in verses 11 - 12! We are given some commands. "But as for you, ... flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:11-12 ESV)

We are told to flee, pursue, fight, and take hold. Those are commands! We are to flee the evil desires that begin with a love of money. Rather than pursuing money, we are told to pursue what reflects God's character... look at the list above. This life isn't meant to be easy. Being a Christian isn't passive! It requires active faith and obedience and the courage to do what pleases God - what is right.

I'll ask it again... What do you pursue? I hope you're actively pursuing the LORD. He is the only one worth pursuing!


Dear Father God, enable us "to keep the commandment [gospel] unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen."
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