Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 21 2013 - 1 Timothy 6:1-21 – Pursuing the right goals

What do you most desire in life? It's easy to list some noble goals, but what is it that shapes your decisions and fills your dreams?

Paul warns against making the acquisition of worldly wealth our goal in life: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10). We live in an acquisitive society, and it's easy for us to become shaped by that society and, perhaps even unthinkingly, adopt its values, particularly the incessant desire for more.

Paul encourages Timothy to live by a very different set of goals: “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (6:11-12). Paul challenges us to ask ourselves, “What am I fleeing from, and what goals am I pursuing?”

But Paul is not a kill-joy who wants us to live a life of self-denying asceticism. The key, as so often, is contentment: “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (6:7-8). Such contentment is to be accompanied by genuine enjoyment of all that God has given us (6:17). There’s nothing wrong with being rich if it is money legitimately gained and if it does not captivate our soul. But, as well as enjoying the abundance of good things God has given us, we are to be generous in sharing it with others, particularly those in need (6:18). This is the way to “take hold of the life that is truly life” (6:19).

In his book, Money, Sex and power; The challenge to the Disciplined Life, Richard Foster writes, “The Christian is given the high calling of using mammon without serving mammon. We are using mammon when we allow God to determine our economic decisions. We are serving mammon when we allow mammon to determine our economic decisions. We simply must decide who is going to make our decisions – God or mammon.

“Do we buy a particular home on the basis of the call of God, or because of the availability of money? Do we buy a new car because we can afford it, or because God instructed us to buy a new car? If money determines what we do or do not do, then money is our boss. If God determines what we do or do not do then God is our boss. My money might say to me, ‘You have enough to buy that,’ but my God might say to me, ‘I don’t want you to have it.’ Now, who am I to obey?”

We need continually to question our own motivations; to examine the things that captivate our hearts and to question honestly the goals that shape daily lives.

Creator God, we give you thanks for all that you give us day by day. We receive your gifts as evidence of your love for us. May you gifts never become our idols. Help us rather to use all that we possess for your glory and for the blessing of others. May we be wholehearted, single-hearted, in our devotion to you and to the life of discipleship and witness to which you have called us.

Peter Misselbrook