A strong desire for material things seems to permeate other cultures around the world just as it does in the United States. One foreign missionary described his own family’s struggle with the temptation of materialism in a parable. He said, “When we answered God’s call to missions, we thought we were prepared to give up everything. We promised the Lord that we would be satisfied with a single donkey and a grass hut if we were in His will. Then we arrived on the mission field. We looked around and noticed that other folks had two donkeys and a two-story grass hut. We began to feel discontented with our one little donkey and small grass hut. Before we knew it, we started complaining that we deserved two donkeys and not just a two-story grass hut but also a detached garage on the side.”
1. How would you describe the word “contentment”? (“A state of happiness and satisfaction.” “Quiet joy we feel when everything is going well.” “A state of peaceful happiness.”)
2. What does it take to make you content?
In our study today Paul talks about people who have nothing; the trap the temptation for things lays out for us; and finally he talks about people who are wealthy. In the middle of our passage Paul challenges Timothy to fight the good fight!
True Contentment! Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10
1. What equation did Paul present in verse 6? (Godliness + contentment = great gain.)
2. How would you define godliness? (God likeness; being Christ-like.)
Here Paul is urging us to have a reliance on God that leads to a sense of satisfaction no matter the circumstances.
Read Philippians 4:11-13
3. How was Paul able to be content regardless of the situation in which he found himself? (He trusted in Christ alone.)
Notice the context of verse 13. This verse is taken out of context many times. Here Paul is talking about being content and he has learned to be content no matter his situation because he draws strength from Christ! Notice this is a learned behavior. The sooner we learn it the better off we will be!
4. What do you think the “”great gain” refers to in verse 6? (Fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, gentleness, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control; pleasing to God; spiritual blessings; life with purpose; reflecting Jesus to others; etc.)
5. Why is material wealth often a stumbling block to godliness? (Our priorities are just backwards. When godliness is our first priority we will find contentment in our situation. Not that it is bad to strive to better our financial situation but that isn’t our top priority.)—the Rich Young Ruler from the Bible is a good example! Matt. 19:16-30; Mk 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30.
6. What happens to those people who have a deep desire to be rich in worldly possessions? (See verse 9: ruin and destruction.)
Paul didn’t state that money is evil. (Read verse 10). Having money isn’t the same as loving money; however, Paul warned that loving money is a trap that plunges people into destruction. Therefore, believers must be careful not to fall into this temptation.
7. What signs in a believer’s life indicate that money is becoming an idol? (Debt, especially accumulated for unnecessary things, may be an indicator. Well-paying jobs that regularly take us away from church and the community of faith may be a sign that we love money.)
8. Note that the “love” of money is the root of all kinds of evil. What kinds of evil come to your mind that love of money might lead to? (Lying, stealing, cheating, placing money before God, my family and others, etc.)
Wealth and possessions can actually lead a person away from the faith. Godliness, not material gain, should define all of us as believers. It is more than correct teaching; it is living life according to that teaching. When it comes to godliness and contentment, money and material possessions are not bad; they are just irrelevant. Ecclesiastes 5:10 tells us that those who love money are “never satisfied.” Finding a place of contentment means we can live with less instead of more.
Love of money has led to the destruction of scores of marriages and families when someone chases wealth instead of relationships.
True Riches! Read 1 Timothy 6:11-16
Paul not only warned Timothy to flee from a love of money but also told him what to pursue instead.
1. What significance do Paul’s descriptors of running and fighting tell us about the goal of achieving true riches? (Running and fighting, even the good fight, imply proactive effort, not just sitting back and waiting for it to come to you.)
While salvation isn’t earned by our good works, taking hold of eternal life suggests that we live with an eternal perspective as we resist the false teachers and live with purpose!
2. What was Timothy to run from? (Those things that might ensnare him in materialism. He is to live in contrast to the false teachers.)
3. What are the dangers of focusing only on restrictions (what to flee from) and not studying what God wants us to pursue?
4. How can guidance on what to pursue help a believer avoid temptation? (See Matthew 6:24
Earlier in this chapter Paul mentioned envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, and constant disagreements. In Galatians 5:19-21 he lists a few more evidences of not being under the Holy Spirit’s control: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and so forth!
5. What qualities did Paul exhort Timothy to “pursue” or run toward? (Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.)
6. How can we live our lives filled with these qualities? (Keeping our focus on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Matt. 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”)
7. How much of yourself have you yielded to Jesus’ control?
Although we don’t know exactly what Paul meant by the command in verse 14, we can clearly see the persistence and the faithfulness of Jesus are expected of Timothy—and of us!
Be faithful to the end. As is typical of Paul, when he began to think about the God who will bring salvation to completion at Christ’s appearing, he broke out into a doxology of praise!
Stewards of Good Works! Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19
While verses 6-10 warn against a pursuit of wealth, verses 17-19 give instructions on how to use the wealth one has. Both, however, warn against putting your hope and security in wealth instead of in God.
While many of us might not consider ourselves to be rich, most Americans are indeed rich, relative to the rest of the world. God is our only certain hope in the world, and He is the Source of all that we have.
1. How would you summarize Paul’s instructions to those who were rich? (Use what God has given you to bless others. God expects all of us to share with others regardless of our level of wealth.)
2. Rather than be arrogant, conceited, or greedy, what are we to do? (Do what is good; be rich in good works; and be generous, willing to share.)
3. What is the result of that kind of lifestyle? (Life that is real with meaning and purpose. We are purchasing things that will go with us into eternity. We can’t take those material things with us, but good works and generosity will follow us into eternity. Good works and generosity can’t earn salvation but it is clear evidence of a changed life.)
4. What are some ways you can be rich in good works with what you have?
There is nothing wrong with pursuing a high-paying career and a believer should work to be as successful in his or her career as they possibly can. 1 Cor. 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
5. In what ways can a person leverage his or her financial resources to spread the gospel and strengthen the church? (Through our tithes and offerings. Helping those who are in financial need, when God leads us to do so.)
Summarize and Challenge!
How does your budget show trust in God?
· Prioritizing good works above worldly success will please God and point others to Him.
· Calculating how you spend your time will help you determine your priorities and what might need adjustment.
· Tracking your expenditures over time can reveal whether you’re pursuing wealth at the expense of godliness. When do you have enough?
· Rating yourself when it comes to sharing and generosity will reveal where your heart is.
Our attitude toward money speaks volumes about our walk with Christ. Which concerns me more: how much money I have or how much of me God has?