Perhaps you’re curious what this post will be about. The title doesn’t give much away, except that it’s not a straight-forward topic, yet, “gain and loss” are relatable nonetheless on many levels.
I’ve been reading 1 Timothy in the Bible lately, and I have to say, as some of it is a letter from the Apostle Paul to a young man named Timothy, it is a lot of exhortation and seems to fall under a fatherly “don’t do this, do that.” But when I got to the final chapter of this short book, chapter 6, I found myself really impressed.
I’ve heard a couple of these verses, (10-12, 19-20) many times, and what I’ve discovered is that because I’ve experienced them out of context, I really lost some of the sentiment and meaning behind the verses. The apparent topic may seem cliché – riches and the way one chooses to live his/her life – but there are some profound concepts that are worth exploring and considering.
I’ll jot the verses in sequence down here and comment briefly on why I was impressed.
(6) But godliness with contentment is great gain; (7) for we have brought nothing into the world, because neither can we carry anything out, (8) but having food and covering, with these we will be content. (9) But those who intend to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into destruction and ruin. (10) For the love of money is a root of all evils, because of which some, aspiring after money, have been led away from the faith and pierced themselves through with many pains. (11) But you, O man of God, flee these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, meekness. (12) Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold on the eternal life, to which you were called and have confessed the good confession before many witnesses.
Paul, writing there is earnest in his heart that young Timothy would not fall into a trap, which is not mere greed as a vice, but it seems he is concerned that Timothy would not fall prey and succumb unknowingly to a gushing tide of the times when people may fall under the wave of pursuing aspirations for things that do not endure, and do not provide true happiness and lasting returns.
I appreciated the prelude to the “love of money is a root of all evils.” Without the prelude of the reminder that a deep, lasting contentment does not come with the snare of always climbing a ladder and aspiring to riches for advancement and riches’ sake, but that contentment comes alongside simply having food and covering and a pure heart which pursues righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and meekness, the words about money being a root of evil fall flat and may even be annoying (that again? of course greed is not good…this doesn’t apply to me). We just have today, really, and it’s true – we didn’t arrive into this world with everything, and we can’t take our chateau or boat with us when we leave, either. Like roses which look of perfection from picking to bloom, eventually, and sorrowfully, their beauty and life fade and are devoid of worth.
The fact that such a lifestyle of contentment requires “pursuing” and a “fight” on our part implies that it is more difficult than falling into temptation of living for the next promotion, the bigger house, the newer car, the nicer clothes. But this isn’t a diatribe against riches, either. It’s really a reminder to reflect inside and consider the source of our aspirations, as well as the choices we make of aspirations.
(17) Charge those who are rich in the present age not to be high minded, nor to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches but on God, who affords us all things richly for our enjoyment; (18) to do good, to be rich in good works, to be ready to distribute, to be ones willing to share; (19) laying away for themselves a good foundation as a treasure for the future, that they may lay hold on that which is really life.
There is hope: these are the sorts of treasured elements that add to an enduring contentment, and are the mark of an unfading life.