Daily Devotional

April 29, 2019

Daybreak: 1 Timothy 6:1-21

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

The rest house which was to provide lodging on their journey had only holes for windows. There was a doorway but no door, the floor was made of dried mud, and there was not even a table or a chair. But Mary Slessor could be happy with nothing; she would have been satisfied with bare ground for a bed and the starry sky for a covering. She was in the land where God wanted her to be, and she was doing what God had called her to do. She was content, no matter what her circumstances.

The thirty-nine years Mary spent ministering to people in different regions of Nigeria were filled with excitement, disappointment, horror, and joy. She stood up to warriors, chiefs, witch doctors, and murderers. Her adventures included rescuing prisoners and slaves from being murdered, saving and caring for countless children and infants, settling disputes among warring tribes, and telling sinful men and women about the love of God. She suffered privation, loss, hardship, illness, and adversity of all kinds. But she was content, no matter what her circumstances.

Today’s focus verse is a gem of timeless wisdom. Paul was pointing out to young Timothy that living a godly life and being satisfied with what God has provided (whether little or much) is the greatest gain that can be had in this world. The Christian life pays rich dividends to the ones who discover for themselves the satisfaction that comes by living selflessly for Christ! 

The world today tells us that we need more possessions to be happy. Credit cards and instant loans have become readily accessible, making it easier to satisfy our urges for immediate gratification. In addition, an ever-increasing array of “necessary” products and services are constantly dangled before us. If we are not careful, we can give in to the temptation to fill our lives with material possessions and lose sight of the true riches of the Heavenly Kingdom.

As Christians, we cherish our inward serenity and close relationship with God. To preserve that relationship, we must be aware of the difference between needs and wants. Mary Slessor learned and lived that truth, and we can too. Today, let’s remind ourselves that serving God and gladly accepting whatever circumstances He allows to come our way is the happiest life!

Background

Paul opened this chapter with an admonition regarding slaves and their behavior towards their masters. Some historians have estimated that during this time in history, up to half of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves. Since slaves were considered property and “non-persons,” a religion that preached that God did not esteem one person above another drew many slaves to conversion. In verses 1-2, Paul brought out that the slaves’ new-found liberty in Christ did not mean that they were no longer required to submit to their masters. Salvation changes a person’s eternal standing, not their civil standing. 

Masters were entitled to receive honor from their servants, just as God is entitled to receive all honor. (See Colossians 3:22–24.) If the master was an unbeliever, then it was especially important and necessary for the converted slave to render faithful service, to avoid bringing a reproach on Christ. If the master was a believer, faithful service was still required out of honor. In addition, Christian love demanded that a Christian master show respect for his servant. Though far above his slave in the economic and social realms, a believing master was to treat his slave fairly, as a brother in the Lord. Both servants and masters would benefit from such actions. 

In verses 3-5, Paul returned to his discussion of those who had attempted to corrupt the faith of the Ephesian church. The Apostle gave a scathing portrayal of those who deviated from the truth, and warned that wrong teachings and attitudes would bring “envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings.”

Financial matters were of great concern to Paul. The city of Ephesus was very wealthy and it is possible that the church there had many affluent members. It seemed that some had developed such a desire for the accumulation of wealth that they had turned away from the Gospel in order to pursue their lust. Paul warned that there were some who would even use their “spiritual knowledge” to make gain for themselves. In verses 9-10, he clearly stated that the love of money, not money itself, would bring about spiritual destruction. Later, in verses 17-19, he instructed Christians who had been financially blessed by God to put their funds to work for the benefit of those in need. The rich were warned that wealth is fleeting, so their trust was to be put in God rather than accumulated resources. 

In verses 11-16, Paul laid out guidelines that were the antithesis to the pursuit of riches, focusing on the aims and rewards of godly living. In verses 17-19, he followed those guidelines with an exhortation on the proper stewardship of wealth.

Throughout this epistle, Paul warned of false teachers. Verses 20-21 gave a final warning concerning this subject. During this time, there were some who taught a religion called Gnosticism. Proponents of this philosophy believed that a person attained salvation through special or secret knowledge. Paul may have been referring to these teachings when he said to “avoid . . . oppositions of science falsely so called.” The word translated science is from the Greek word gnosis, meaning “to know” or “knowledge.” Overall, Paul was warning Timothy of how important it was to steer clear of false doctrines and to “hold fast” to the truth that he had been taught.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV.   Charge concerning the ministry of Timothy
      B.   Concerning relationships with various groups 
            4.   Concerning slaves (6:1-2)
                  a.   Those with unbelieving masters (6:1)
                  b.   Those with believing masters (6:2)
            5.   Concerning godly living (6:3-16)
                  a.   Avoid impure motives (6:3-10)
                        (1)   The manifestation of impure motives (6:3)
                        (2)   The nature of impure motives (6:4-5)
                        (3)   The curb to impure motives (6:6-8)
                        (4)   The result of impure motives (6:9-10)
                  b.   Pursue a proper walk (6:11-16)
                        (1)   The characteristics of a proper walk (6:11)
                        (2)   The command to a proper walk (6:12-14)
                        (3)   The reward of a proper walk (6:15-16)
            6.   Concerning the rich (6:17-19)
                  a.   Their proper attitude (6:17)
                  b.   Their proper conduct (6:18)
                  c.   Their proper goal (6:19)
V.   Conclusion (6:20-21)
      A.   The concluding charge: what to guard and what to avoid (6:20)
      B.   The concluding word (6:21)

A Closer Look

  1. What are the pitfalls of pursuing riches?
     
  2. Name at least three specific things that could be considered the “gain” of godliness.
     
  3. In verse 12, Paul gave the admonition to “fight the good fight of faith” and to “lay hold on eternal life.” What can you do today to follow these instructions? 

Conclusion

When we are content with what God has allowed and purpose in our hearts to live according to His Word, we can be assured of His blessings! 

Reference Materials