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The Real Truth about Money

I Timothy 6:6-10

This morning we are going to be looking closely at I Timothy 6:6-10 and the subject of money.  I cannot overemphasize the importance of this passage before us.  We live in a world that is consumed with money.   It is what drives most families.  It is what drives most churches.  It is what drives most countries.  It is something for which we strive after each waking hour.

“Money!  Money!  Money!”

The world’s mindset is, “The more I have, the happier I will be!”  The rich person’s perspective is, “If only I had a little more, then I would be happy!”  The poor person’s perspective is, if only we had money, then we would be happy!”  But what is God’s perspective of money?  This is what we want to look at today.  I want to appeal to you to pay utmost attention to what God’s Word says regarding this subject.  I think you will find it:

Shocking, encouraging, challenging, freeing, interesting . . . and if you apply its teaching to your daily lives, I think you will find this teaching life-transforming!

I want you to know at the outset, that I believe for most of us, we have believed a lie.  We have gotten caught into the trap that was set by Satan himself.  This trap is called the money trap.  And as we will see from the passage before us today, the goal of that trap is to devour those who love Christ (I Peter 5:8).  The money trap is set by the lie that says that pursuing money is okay, as long as you . . . will use it for God, and don’t love it.  After all, there’s nothing wrong with wanting money.

I want to tell you from the outset, these are lies.  Pursuing the want of money according to our passage today is very dangerous, and is something that should be very much feared by God’s people.  You say, “But how should we perceive money?”  Should we want to be poor?  Is it wrong to want to have money?  What should a believer be pursuing?

The incredible thing about this passage this morning is that it cuts through the lies that are given by the world today, and it provides us fresh truth to deactivate the bomb of pursuing money.  The lie that these false teachers believed about money being a means of great gain was resulting in envy, strife, abusive language, evil speculations, constant friction, depraved minds, and people who are devoid of the truth, which caused Paul to begin this discussion.

Remember he tells us in verse 5 that these false teachers think that godliness is a means of great gain.  Therefore, these false teachers are using godliness to obtain money.  Paul then launches into this discussion to show us how foolish this really is.

In verses 6-10, we will see Paul’s discussion of the godliness which leads to profit, versus the godliness of these false teachers which leads to destruction.  In verses 6-8, Paul will show us the godliness which leads to profit.  In verses 9-10, we will see the dangers of the godliness which the false teachers are pursuing–that is wanting to be rich.

What I want to do this morning is to start by looking at the foolishness of the false teachers’ pursuit of riches, and then I want to look at what Paul would call a profitable pursuit.

I want to start by making it clear that to have money is not sinful in and of itself.

From Scripture, we see that God blesses some, and others He does not bless.

Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon were all rich and blessed by God.

Therefore, the passage is clearly not saying being rich is bad.  But the passage before us is talking about those “who want to get rich” (verse 9).  The word for “to want” in verse 9 is literally “to wish” and suggests the idea of someone setting their heart on being rich.  It is where being rich starts–taking the center focus in their hearts.

The exact line where the desire to care for your family and the desire to get rich meet is not clear.  But that line is a thin line, and the change in focus can happen very abruptly and very secretly.  According to this passage, this desire to get rich must be avoided at all costs, because it is really a deadly snake ready to devour its prey.

This is made clear by the four consequences which result for those who put their heart’s desire on getting rich, and is supported by first secular understanding, and second by the current circumstances going on in the Ephesian church.

So let’s look at these together, and note that these consequences are placed in such a way as to describe a logical progression.  Please follow along to see this progression.

The first consequence for those who want to get rich is that they fall under temptation or enticement to sin.  This word is passive, suggesting that this person will have temptation come upon him.  You say, “Well so what, everyone is tempted.”

But understand, this is a special temptation for those who want to be rich.  This passage is suggesting that when one begins to desire riches, the door he is opening is actually full of temptation.

The second consequence, which is made evident by the “and”, is that those who want to get rich will fall into a snare or trap.  The idea is that this person is traveling along and “bang”, all of a sudden he is caught.  The use of the imagery of a trap suggests that this person did not intend to get caught.  He was just the victim of his own dangerous desire.

The third consequence is that these men fall into many kinds of unintelligent or foolish and harmful desires.  The word “unintelligent” suggests that a thinking man would never do such a thing.  But this person’s desire to be rich causes his brain to become clouded to the point where his desires or passions cause him to not think.

His desires or passions are also harmful, meaning they result in pain of some type.

The fourth and final description of the man who desires to be rich is that this man ends up plunging himself into ruin and destruction.  The word for plunge is used in Luke 5:7 to describe a sinking boat.  The word provides the picture of a man who wants to be rich sinking as a boat into the water of ruin and destruction.  The words for ruin and destruction are very strong words and ultimately the same words, so they are both used to emphasize the terrible realities of this man’s future.  What is this ruin?  Is this “ruin and destruction” in this life or in the next?  Most likely this is talking about the future judgment before God.

By these four consequences, Paul is giving us a real and accurate perspective of the true consequences of people who seek for money.  This is so good!  Here we have the truth lined up against the lies of Satan.

From verse 5 we see that the false teachers have believed the lie that money was going to have great gain for them.  Here Paul comes and says, “Please don’t believe this trash.  Money will not bring great gain, but a great loss.  It is going to bring temptations, a trap, evil passions, and ultimate destruction.”  Is that gain?  Are you guys hearing this?  The pursuit of money has never brought a person real gain, only devastating loss.  Put this truth in your minds.  Inscribe it on your hearts.

History has proven that the richest people are often the most miserable.  John D. Rockefeller said, “I have made my many millions, but they have brought me no happiness.”  Cornelius Vanderbilt said, “The care of millions is too great a load . . . there is no pleasure in it.”  Millionaire John Jacob Astor described himself as “the most miserable man that has ever lived.”  Henry Ford once said, “I was happier doing mechanic’s work.”  John D. Rockefeller once again said, “The poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money.”

A Roman proverb says that “money is like sea water, the more you drink the thirstier you get.”  Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 5:10, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money.”  My dear friends, in Uganda almost everyone believes that money is the means to happiness.  But hear the words of Paul–money is the way to destruction.  Chrysostom said, when preaching this passage, “And to learn how true this is, the only way is to sojourn with the rich, to see how many are their sorrows, how bitter their complaints.”  My dear friends, this is so good and so true.

After Paul describes these four consequences, he validates or proves his statement by looking at two things.  One, he looks at a common saying of the day, which was “For the love of money is the root of all evil” (verse 10).  This was a statement that was found all over ancient literature.  It is being used here to explain or verify what Paul said, as is indicated by the “for”.  In this statement Paul is not saying that the love of money is the one and only root of all evil, but that the love of money brings forth all types of evil.

This statement is designed to show how dangerous is the pursuit of wealth.  This statement is creating a picture of a tree whose roots are the love of money, and how from these roots for money come the fruits of evil.  By this imagery Paul is exhorting his readers to repent and change their hearts.

The second thing Paul uses to prove his point is the current circumstances that are going on in the Ephesian church.  Paul says (verse 10b), some by longing for money have done two things.  One, they have wandered from the faith.  Two, they have pierced themselves with many griefs.  Explain these two things.

Okay, I have shown you the foolishness of the false teachers’ pursuit of riches.  Now let me quickly show you what Paul would call a profitable pursuit.  After all, if we are not supposed to want to get rich, then what mindset or pursuit should we have as believers?

Well, Paul tells us in verses 6-8, we are to have godliness with contentment (verse 6).  Then he provides the reason why such a lifestyle is of great gain.  Then he concludes by telling us what kind of mindset we should pursue.  If you remember, Paul describes the false teachers as men who use godliness for the purpose of making money, thinking that godliness is a means of great gain.

Paul’s point so far has been, there is no gain in godliness when it is for money.  The only thing gained is pain and destruction.  But when godliness is pursued with contentment, according to Paul’s clear statement in verse 6, then there is great gain.  Remember that godliness is the idea of acting like God in true holy living.  This godliness is great to have and to pursue after, if it is accompanied with contentment.  This contentment is not in pursuing riches, but in being satisfied in food and covering.  It is the state of mind that is satisfied or at peace with his/her circumstances.  This peace comes from faith or trust in God   It is the confidence in knowing that God who takes care of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air will take care of me.  This godliness with contentment, according to Paul, produces what?  Great gain.  But wait a second, what is this great gain?  The text never clearly tells us.

But according to the context it seems to be an eternal gain, because in verse 7 Paul provides the reason for why godliness with contentment leads to great profit:  In verse 7 he makes it clear that godliness is the only thing that has lasting value.  All other pursuits cannot be taken after death (6:7).  Therefore, if the gain cannot be taken with someone when they die, how valuable is it?

As Proverbs 27:24 says, “Riches are not forever.”  Money is locked up in time and space.  When people pursue money, they pursue something that they cannot take with them upon death.  Therefore, to Paul what is the value?  But you see when you have godliness with contentment, it has eternal value, because remember I Timothy 4:8, “For bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

Therefore, my dear friend, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matthew 6:19, 20).

Now having explained the value of godliness with contentment, Paul applies his teaching to his readers–he says believers should be content with just food and covering (6:8).  This is profound.  Paul is calling us believers to be content with just the necessities of life.  In conclusion, Paul has called us to a new mindset.

One he has called us to fear wanting money.  Two, he has called us to pursue godliness with contentment.  Three, he has called us to be content with just food and covering.

Tough Stuff - Difficult Truths from the Bible

About Shannon Hurley

Shannon serves Uganda as a missionary, training pastors to understand and preach the Word of God.