Jeremiah 37:1-21; 1 Timothy 6:1-11; Psalms 89:19-37; Proverbs 21:3
NT: “If anyone teaches false doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:3-11 CSB)
At the beginning of Paul’s letter to Timothy, he warned Timothy about false doctrines that were being spread around the church and causing confusion. Here, at the end of the letter, Paul gave Timothy a way to identify false teachers. There is a marked difference in attitude between teachers who are earnestly committed to teaching the gospel of Christ and those who are not. Those who are committed to teaching the unadulterated gospel of Christ which promotes true godliness have a high degree of humility about them and sincerely desire to walk in unity with the body of Christ. Those who are trying to peddle their own teaching or their own version of the gospel will disagree with the essential components of the gospel and will have an unhealthy interest in disputing and arguing over even the minutest of things.
False teachers, ultimately, are not as concerned with promoting Christ as they are themselves. False teaching can come in a variety of forms – from teaching an aberrant theology to simply omitting unpopular truths from the gospel. Whatever the premise of the false teaching, self-promotion and potential material gain is the underlying motivation… and as the Apostle James wrote, “For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. (James 3:16)”
James went on to write, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace. (James 3:17-18)” True teachers of the gospel are committed to promoting Christ and the godliness that can be found in Him. They are not seeking their own financial gain, but are seeking the glory of Christ and the welfare of those they are teaching. The love of wealth and prestige is a root of all kinds of evil, but true godliness combined with contentment in what God has provided is full of peace, righteousness and good fruit. It is not wrong to be remunerated for your efforts in ministry. It is wrong to use ministry as a means to line your pockets at the expense of others’ wellbeing. As Paul told Timothy, we need to flee those self-serving desires that lead to compromise and evil, and instead walk in the wisdom from above by pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, and the like.
Proverbs: “Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3 CSB)
King Saul was more concerned with appearing righteous and appeasing the people than he was concerned with honoring and obeying the Lord. Because of that, God sent a message to Saul through the prophet Samuel: “Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry. (1 Samuel 15:22b-23a)” God isn’t interested in people appearing to be righteous. Doing the right thing as pretense does not impress the Lord one bit. God is pleased with those who honor and obey His word and place their trust and faith in Him and are made righteous through placing faith in His Son.
Prayer: Lord, Your word says that if we trust in You… if we dwell contently in the places where You lead us… if we delight ourselves in all the blessings that You provide for us, you will give us the things that our hearts truly desire. I don’t want to be a person that takes what I want, but instead waits for You to bless me with what You want to give me: peace, joy, righteousness, godliness, and contentment. Make me aware of those attitudes that I need to flee and help me to walk in a way that honors You primarily and completely. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.