1 Timothy 6:1-21 Godliness
“All who are under the yoke as slaves must regard their own masters to be worthy of all respect, so that God’s name and His teaching will not be blasphemed.” (1 Timothy 6:1, HCSB)
This is the guiding principles for this chapter. While some scholars see this section connected to the previous chapter about widows and elders, I sense that Paul is developing a final theme. As we have studied through the book of 1 Timothy, Paul’s emphasis has been on promoting what is Godly. In contrast, at times, he has shown what is ungodly.
All through the book, Timothy has been told to encourage and teach. What has been the theme? Godliness. We have talked about a Godly mission, Godly prayer, Godly submission, Godly leaders, Godly servants, Godly teaching, and Godly honor. Now we turn to what makes these things Godly. What makes something Godly, instead of any other quality? Paul answers that question and then gives us three challenges that can prevent us from being Godly.
GODLINESS – ITS DEFINITION
The quality of doing something assigned to God’s name. Something is Godly because it manifest God’s name in it. So godliness can be defined as devotion to God which results in a life that is pleasing to him.
We are Godly people only if we live a life that is pleasing to God. The world makes us worldly because it teaches us to live a life that pleases the world.
EXAMPLE: HONORING MASTERS (1 Timothy 6:1-2)
Paul gives us the example of honoring masters because it illustrates how we are to be godly. Honoring our Earthly masters brings us closer to Godliness because we learn to submit to an authority God has made. God has made authority figures in our lives as an example of how to please Him. He has given us masters, parents, elders, and government authorities to teach us to be Godly. That happens because we learn to follow God’s directions. We learn to please Him by submitting to the authorities He has placed over us.
However, there are challenges to being Godly. Paul lists four such challenges which are common to everyone who wants to be Godly.
FOUR CHALLENGES TO GODLINESS
1. FALSE TEACHING (1 Timothy 6:3)
“If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness,” (1 Timothy 6:3, HCSB)
A teaching that does not promote Godliness is inherently false. The problem is that people will teach more about what they want than what God wants them to teach. God’s goal in your life is to become more like Christ. The teaching that you receive must make that happen.
The result of false teaching is false behavior. They include the following:
“he is conceited, understanding nothing, but has a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions,” (1 Timothy 6:4, HCSB)
This leads to the second challenge to Godliness.
“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 a great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:5–6, HCSB)
Godliness includes contentment. The opposite of contentment is greed. The second challenge to being Godly is greed. The world teaches false behaviors. The most difficult behavior for the Christian is materialism. Many people think that Godliness will get you money and success. However, that is a prosperity gospel that is false.
REASONS GREED IS UNGODLY
1. God provides enough of what we need.
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.” (1 Timothy 6:7–8, HCSB)
2. Love becomes misplaced.
“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 pains.” (1 Timothy 6:9–10, HCSB)
God tells us to love Him. He wants us to derive pleasure from Him – that is the definition of Godliness. Instead, the world tempts us and traps us to derive happiness and pleasure riches.
3. Greed can keep you away from God.
“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 pains.” (1 Timothy 6:10, HCSB)
Greed can make people stay away from God. Loving money can take you away from the faith. Instead of finding satisfaction and pleasure in God and His church family, one finds satisfaction elsewhere.
In this last section, Paul encourages Timothy to not give up. He calls it “fighting the faith.”
“But you, man of God, run from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11–12, HCSB)
Paul tells Timothy to avoid other things and turn to the good fight of faith. If you are going to fight the good fight of faith, then you need the right weapons.
Previously, the false teachers were using wrong weapons. These weapons destroyed people. They included:
1. False doctrine (1 Timothy 6:3)
2. Disputes and arguments (1 Timothy 6:4)
3. Envy, slander, quarreling, evil suspicions (1 Timothy 6:4)
4. Disagreement (1 Timothy 6:5)
5. Godliness as a path to material gain (1 Timothy 6:5)
6. Love of money (1 Timothy 6:10)
In contrast, Paul tells Timothy about the right weapons – positive weapons which God gives us to fight the good fight of faith:
With these offensive weapons, one fights the good fight for the faith – for Jesus. When weapons are being used against you, you want to give up. But to overcome giving up, we have to keep teaching.
“In the presence of God, who gives life to all, and of Christ Jesus, who gave a good confession before Pontius Pilate, I charge you to keep the command without fault or failure until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Timothy 6:13–14, HCSB)
What is the one command in this passage? It is to teach and encourage those from the Word of God. It refers back to 1 Timothy 6:2, 1 Timothy 4:11, and 1 Timothy 1:3-5.
The one command is to keep teaching, with the goal of increasing their love. Paul is teaching Timothy to be persistent. It will take time to keep this one command. It will take practice, diligence, and strength.
It is not easy to keep teaching to people who may not listen. It is not easy to keep teaching to those who won’t obey. However, just as God encouraged the prophets to keep the one command, we are called as pastors to continue in our effort.
4. FOCUS (1 Timothy 6:17-21)
The final challenge to Godliness is focus. These challenges layer on top of each other. False teaching leads to greed, which leads to giving up, and therefore a lack of focus.
“Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17, HCSB)
Focusing on God leads to being Godly. This leads to good works.
“Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share,” (1 Timothy 6:18, HCSB)
Good works lead to storing up true riches in heaven:
“storing up for themselves a good reserve for the age to come, so that they may take hold of life that is real.” (1 Timothy 6:19, HCSB)
Paul reminds Timothy to avoid certain behaviors. These behaviors prevented Timothy from focusing on what he needs to leave a Godly legacy.
“Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding irreverent, empty speech and contradictions from the “knowledge” that falsely bears that name. By professing it, some people have deviated from the faith. Grace be with all of you.” (1 Timothy 6:20–21, HCSB)
Paul ends the letter with a reminder of what to avoid. He wants to remind us to be Godly by not bearing a false name. We are called to bear the right name. Again, we have the danger of leaving the faith because we are not representing God the right way.
We have to learn to guard what we have been taught. We need to work at staying faithful to Godliness.