A Little Bit More: Contentment in an Age of Discontent - 1 Timothy 6:3-10 (Sermon)
Hi, I am pastor Rob. What is your number? I mean, what is the number you need to retire? How much money do you think is enough? John D. Rockefeller (1839–1937) was an oil tycoon and founder of Standard Oil. When he died, in the 1930s, he was America’s first billionaire with 1.4 billion dollars. That would be an incredible amount in our day. Rockefeller was one of the richest people ever to have lived in history. (https://www.forbes.com/profile/rockefeller/?sh=1a698b56430e). The story goes that one day someone asked him, “How much money was enough?” He responded, “Just a little bit more.”
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH FOR YOU?
Let me ask you, “How much money do you think is enough?” What is your number? Life is expensive. We have soaring school costs, rising health care costs, rocketing home prices and material costs, burdensome taxes, and frequent car expenses? How much is enough? How much do you need to live on? Not only that, we are being watched and listened to through our smart devices to market personalized commercials telling us we need a little bit more. They argue what we have is not good enough. How can we ever be content when the next best thing is about to be created and paraded before us with fanfare and allure that is customized to our particular desires? How do we find any contentment in this life? The Bible has an answer, and it isn’t just a little bit more money.
Today’s message begins a short series on thanksgiving. We will discuss contentment, generosity, and giving thanks in all circumstances.
I asked L. C. to read for us 1 Timothy chapter 6, verses 3 through 10. He will be reading from the English Standard Version of the Bible. In honor of God’s Word, would you please stand with me?
3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Ti 6:3–10).
Thank you. Let’s pray. Dear God. I need you. We need you. Help the words of my mouth and the thoughts of our hearts be pleasing to you, our rock and redeemer. You can be seated. Could I have a couple of people raise their hands to pray for me as I preach? Thank you.
Diving into the text, let’s do a brief overview. Paul, the apostle, wrote this letter in the early 60s. He was writing to a pastor in Ephesus named Timothy. Paul called Timothy his child and son. He used that term with others and meant it spiritually, not biologically. This was a letter of encouragement and consisted of six chapters. Not too long after writing, Paul went to prison for his faith. While incarcerated, Paul wrote a follow-up letter. He wrote Chapter 4, verse 16 of 1 Timothy, sums up well what I think is the letter's big idea. “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching! Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Life and doctrine were crucial for Paul, and they are critical for us in our pursuit of God today.
In the eight verses of chapter 6, we read Paul contrasted two different perspectives on wealth. One viewed the almighty dollar as the aim in life. The other defined wealth vastly differently.
3-5 Pursuing Gain the wrong way
Let’s look at that first perspective. I call it the attitude of “a little bit more.” The second is having enough. Picking up at the end of verse 2. Those are my two points this morning if you are taking notes.
2 Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness.
Stop there. Paul was warning and helping Timothy understand how false teachers work in the church. Beliefs connect to actions. Doctrine matters. The teachers in verse 3 didn’t share three things with Paul or Timothy or us at church, different doctrine, the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and teaching concerning godly living. The teachers in verse 3 contrasted the character qualifications Paul sets forth for teachers and leaders in the church in chapter 2. We don't elect leaders in the church by popularity, availability, personality, nor worldly success. Instead, we choose our leaders and teachers by convictions, competency, and, most importantly, character. Verse 3 reminds Timothy of a three-part departure from what Paul expected Timothy to endorse and live out.
Verse 4 goes on.
3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.
This hypothetical person walked away from the faith and taught others to do so as well. Paul wrote this person would be puffed up, conceited, and understand nothing. That sounds harsh, don’t you think? Paul was drawing a line in the sand for Timothy. And being clear like that is okay at times. Lines like this can help comfort when there are real and present dangers in the sheepfold.
MIKE'S VIDEO SERIES
You may have seen the announcement from pastor Mike about a video series he is producing in the coming weeks. In his videos, he will outline what a biblical worldview is and contrasts it with alternatives that exist and threaten the church. He will address how we live in this present darkness. How do we live in the world and not of it. How we unite and be charitable with differences of opinion all the while holding firmly to absolute truths of the Bible? This letter, like our previous series in 1 Peter, helps us shepherd the sheep and keep out the wolves.
VERSE 4 CONTINUED
Paul went on to describe further this a little bit more type of teacher. See it for yourself in verse 4.
4 He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words.
This type of teacher has an unhealthy craving for controversy and quarrels about words. In the context of this letter, we read that some people were fascinated with myths and genealogies. Some taught you should not get married and taught that the resurrection of the dead had already happened (2 Timothy 2:18).
Heresy being wrong makes sense. But where is the line between talking about controversial things and having an unhealthy craving for controversy? What is the difference between exploring truth and research and an “unhealthy craving for controversy” or “quarrels about words”? If verse 3 is not clear enough, I think the next few verses offer more clarity of the differences between the false teachers and Timothy.
Paul described the result of such cravings and quarrelings. And they are not what we want in the church. Keep reading with me. Verse 4,
He is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth.
Instead of bringing peace, they brought factionalism. Instead of love for one another, they spread suspicion of each other. Instead of grace, they enjoyed wickedness. On top of not being founded on sound doctrine, the teaching of the Lord Jesus, and godly living, this type of teaching resulted in chaos and destruction.
DEPRAVED AND DEPRIVED
If you wonder about these teachers, where were they coming from? They were not really Christians. Paul wrote they were “depraved in mind and deprived of truth.” These people didn’t understand the good news about Jesus dying on the cross for sins. However, they went to church. They read the Bible. Likely they prayed, but they were deprived of truth and depraved in mind. These teachers had the trappings of godliness, but they missed it when it came to sound doctrine. When it came to good fruit in their lives, they missed it. They were depraved and deprived. Why? They were motivated by money. That is precisely what verse 5 tells us. Look at verse 5.
Imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
They saw dollar signs, so they entertained godliness for a season. Money was what they wanted deep down, a little bit more.
ROOT OF EVIL
Money motivates. This motivation is natural. Seeking money for work done or goods sold is not evil. The Bible doesn’t say money is the root of all evil. It is just a number or piece of paper. We need it to function. What is the root of all evil, is found in verse 10. Look at verse 10. What does it say?
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
It was the love of money that drove a form of godliness in the ungodly false teachers. They put the object of getting money over holiness and sound doctrine. Money was their ultimate goal. It was the love of their life. It was their idol they worshipped. The Bible calls that greed. They saw it as gain. How should we define it?
Let’s keep reading and see how Paul contrasts the false teacher with a proper definition of gain. This brings us to my second point, Having Enough.
Look at verse 6. Paul said,
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain,
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Both perspectives see godliness relates to gain. The difference is their definition of gain and how they get it.
What is gain? How should we view it?
Paul gives us an answer in his letter to the church at Philippi. Turn to Philippians 1:21. What did he write?
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
How is dying gain? Because Paul has Christ. Christ is his life, and Christ is greater than life. He is our gain, and nothing can separate us from him. That is the proper perspective on gain.
HOW DO WE GAIN CHRIST
How do we acquire this? How do we gain Christ? It is ultimately through what Jesus did on our behalf. He died to give us himself. Hebrews teaches us that he is the author of our faith (Hebrews 12:1–2). He grants repentance and sustains us. He gets the credit, and we give him the praise.
WHAT IS THE RESULT OF THIS DOCTRINE?
What are the consequent benefits of this teaching? The result is that we are forgiven for our sins. We are declared right before God because Jesus’s blood was given for our salvation. Peter tells us we have an inheritance in heaven that won’t perish, spoil, or fade. John, the apostle, had a vision of heaven that described a city with precious stones and metals as a commonplace as pavement. There will be no more sickness, death, tears, or sadness in heaven because of Christ. He died to forgive us and make us like him—that definition of gain fuels contentment. So, Godliness with contentment equals gain, and gaining Christ equals contentment and godliness. They go hand in hand, regardless of our circumstances. We find contentment in God and in God we find contentment
SECRET OF CONTENTMENT
That is how Paul could write what he wrote in chapter 4.
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. (Phillippians 4:11–12)
So, how do we be content in a world that says you need a little bit more? Or, how do you be content when your flesh is screaming it isn’t fair! Or, how can you be content when you see your friend have everything you want or the grass looks greener just across the street. God is Sovereign and has kindly given us what we have. He may give us more than we can ask or imagine. Paul found the secret to contentment is recognizing he has Christ, and that is the secret for us as well, brothers and sisters.
4 MORE bits of help
In this passage, Paul gave Timothy four more practical, factual, helpful reminders about what God has given us to gain a heart of contentment. Sometimes we can look on the macro-level to gain contentment, like the Phillippians, we have Christ. God has saved us for himself so we can be content. Here, in Timothy, we see God’s gifts on a micro-level to help us be content. Look at verse 7 and following of 1 Timothy 6 and see if you see them.
7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Do you see the four things Paul identified?
We came into the world with nothing. Anything we have now is a bonus. Be content, brothers, and sisters.
We can take nothing with us. Be content. A friend of mine reminded me last week you will never see a U Haul behind a hearse. In 1937, Rockefeller died. Someone asked his accountant, “How much did he leave behind after he died?” The accountant replied, “All of it” (https://www.google.com/books/edition/Money_Possessions_and_Eternity/Lk7li_TM-O4C?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=rockefeller). Be content.
Paul brought up. We can be content because we have food and clothing. Do you have food and clothing? If you do, be content. If not, contact us. We have a team of individuals who care about you at church. We have many generous people who want to help you. There is no good reason for us not to have food and clothing in our church. If you have food and clothing, be content.
Love for money results in temptation, harm, ruin, destruction, evil, wandering, and pains. Why subject yourself to such things? Instead, be content.
Remember, money isn’t the root of evil. It is the love of money. Don’t make having the perfect retirement nest egg, house, car, education your ultimate goal. Any ultimate goal other than personally knowing who Jesus is will lead to emptiness and ruin.
What is going to make us happy? How are we going to be content? What is enough? What are we living for? What are we longing after? What are we dreaming about? It is okay to dream and long, but submit it all to the Creator and Giver of every good thing. Don’t make it ultimate.
Friends, God gives us everything we need for life and godliness. Perhaps you need to repent of your jealousies, envy, ingratitude, and love of the gifts more than the Giver. Do that today in your heart. Turn away from that consuming lust and addictions for a little more and receive God’s forgiveness. Perhaps you need to trust God more. Let us do that today. Let us trust God’s provision in all times, times of abundance, and times of want. Remember the macro-level gift, himself. He is greater than we can ever imagine. He is enough. And remember the mico-level gifts. We brought nothing in the world, will take nothing with us, we have food and clothing, and God’s ways are good for us not self-destructive. Friends, if we do find ourselves wanting a little more, which we will, may we recognize God is what we need more of and seek him and his kingdom from this day forward.