1 Timothy 6:17-19 forms the conclusion to Paul's letter to the churches in the prosperous city of Ephesus. These verses can be divided in three sections: disposition, anticipation, and participation. Our disposition must be a humble one that does not try to out-think God's plan for our lives or the mission of the church. Our hope is not in the American dream that could disappear overnight. We place our hope in God's unchanging promises and blessings.
Quick wealth often destroys. We don't have to look hard or far in our culture to find examples of this reality. At the end of his letter, Paul gives Timothy instructions for Christians "who are rich in this present world" (1 Timothy 6:17-19). This passage is widely preached out of context. The main point of these two verses is this: Prosperity should never devour mission. Prosperity should underpin mission.
Believers will have one of two reactions when Christ returns: we will either be confident or ashamed. Paul gives directives to Timothy so that he will be found faithful at Christ's second coming. In 1 Timothy 6:15-16, Paul rehearses several character traits of God which will motivate Timothy's obedience.
We are wrapping up our look at Paul's instructions to Timothy. Each imperative Paul gives his protege applies to all believers, because all are to be involved in discipleship.
The pastoral epistles are often said to be about the structure and governance of the church. This may sound dry and unappealing to the average Christian in the pew, until you realize that the church cannot be structured or governed without people! Paul's letter to Timothy is instructive not just for pastors but for every group in the church.
Anyone familiar with organizing groups of children knows that success depends on keeping them on schedule. Whether the setting is school or summer camp, the bell is the key to keeping everyone on track. Paul continues to call Timothy and the believers under his care back to one clear message: We don't live for the temporal world but eternal purposes.
In 1 Timothy 6, Pastor Timothy is called to take action. As he lives out godliness, the churches will follow and mimic his example. Timothy is to separate from worldly influences and pursue biblical virtue (verse 11). In verse 12, he is told to contend for the truth of God's Word.
Paul continues to address Pastor Timothy directly, yet there is still something for every Christian to learn from his words. Instructions to pastors affect the whole church, because a flock naturally becomes like its pastor.
We have been studying through the three sections of 1 Timothy 6:3-10. Professing believers who teach falsehood in the church display their unbelief by their lifestyle. Those who believe Jesus is enough find security and contentment through godliness. Next, Paul addresses believers who are tempted to walk away from the faith. The outcome of their testing is largely dependent on who in the church influences them, unless they are already grounded in Christ and who He is. Paul challenges such believers directly because they are at great risk. The end of falsehood is temporary ruin and possibly eternal destruction.
Last week we learned what the church looks like when Jesus is not enough. The next few verses in 1 Timothy 6 describe life when Christ is our all in all. In contrast to unbelieving false teachers, believers who rest on Christ's sufficiency are able to be content.
The second group Paul addresses in the Ephesian church is a small group of people teaching false doctrine. They were inside the local body but not actually born again in Christ. Paul describes these false teachers and directly addresses Spirit-filled saints about how to recognize falsehood.
1 Timothy 6 directly addresses four different groups in the church: those in the work force, teachers of unhealthy doctrine, Timothy and future pastors, and those who are wealthy. The way Christians behave in the workplace has a direct impact on their Gospel influence.
In the second half of 1 Timothy 5, Paul teaches Timothy and the Ephesian churches how to obtain quality leadership. We have already looked at how pastors are to be compensatedand how to handle an unrepentant pastor. Paul reminds Timothy that that shepherding God's people is a sober undertaking done "in the presence of God." Next, Paul instructs Timothy how to choose church leaders so he can avoid dealing with the same issues in the future.
Why do guests return to a church? What keeps people coming back? Churches can do many good, practical things to welcome and care for their people. These are all the fruit of a stable spiritual reality that begins with the character of church leaders.
In ministry and in life, there are many necessary and noble things but fewer primary things. If your child is in the emergency room with a broken arm, you understand when a person with a heart attack is treated first. In the church, there are major ministries and lesser ministries. All need to be addressed. 1 Timothy 5 outlines in detail how the church is to care for widows faithfully and comprehensively in order to please God. The purpose of this ministry, in the context of the whole book, is to protect the church and further the Gospel.
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