Updated: Jul 4
Unselfish Godliness (1 Timothy 6)
Perhaps you have heard godly instruction, like “Forgive anyone who offends you,” followed by a selfish motive: “because you will feel so much better!” Yes, we likely will feel better. But Jesus never used the lure of a healthier emotional state to get us to forgive. He preached the Father’s free forgiveness of us as the only real motivator in our choice to forgive. If that were not strong enough motivation, Jesus says that, if we refuse to forgive someone who offends us, we ultimately forfeit God’s forgiveness of our own sins. If we will not pardon them, He will no longer pardon us (Matthew 6:14-15). That should be more than adequate motivation to forgive.
Likewise, in our frazzled world we too-often disobey Jesus’ command to not worry. Yet, we are taught that we should obey this in order to get a greater measure of peace and relief in our busy lives. Yes, peace and relief come with trusting the Lord, but Jesus’ concern is that worry reveals a lack of faith in God’s provision (6:30). His goal is to increase our faith, to get us out of a worldly mindset and into kingdom thinking (6:33). Ironically, some take Jesus’ call to seek the kingdom first and stress the things that will be “added to you,” utterly missing Christ's longing for a spiritually-minded church.
Ungodly motivations for being godly always foster a self-serving approach to God. His commands are agreeable to us, as long as we find them beneficial. “What is in it for me?” we ask, as if bringing joy to the heart of Christ is not enough. Paul warned us about the foolishness of those “who suppose that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Timothy 6:5). This “gain” can certainly be monetary, but it may also be any pursuit of fulfilling our own desires, rather than His. The antidote to this spiritual sickness is simple: “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness” (6:11).
Doing and Trusting (2 Timothy 1)
“Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14).
It is not enough to be called, or to receive a gift from God. It is not enough to occupy a role or position. It is not enough to pursue what God has for our lives; the wise will also seek to do it how He ordains. There is a responsibility laid upon us regarding anything we receive from God. As the word “entrusted” implies, God’s valuable gifts come with an expectation that we will guard them, that we value what He values. Worldly people view the moment of receiving a title as the point of “arriving.” Celebrations commence, and success is declared. When God calls us to do something for Him, however, there is a sense of weightiness, an awareness that I can either honor or dishonor Him by how I proceed.
God may allow us to attempt our stewardship in our own strength. We go this way and that, failing here, despairing there. We try various methods of guarding the treasure, but all the while, through exasperation and helplessness, the Lord is teaching us to look to Him. When things fall apart, we cast ourselves on God. When we surrender, sometimes it is because we have literally tried everything else. But in that place of surrender, we find the hand of the One who alone is unfailing and sufficient for the things He has entrusted to us. A wise believer once said, “The proper place for any gift the Lord has given us is to lay it at His feet.”
There, in surrender, we find that not only has He given us treasures, He has given us the gift of Himself, dwelling within us through faith, and in His presence, we can “kindle afresh the gift of God,” which is the Spirit (1:6). We no longer have to tremble at our own tendency to fall short. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (1:7). The indwelling Holy Spirit is the provision for how we guard the treasures of God. We take time to seek His direction, receive His strength, and submit to His leading and His Word. Paul wrote, “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (1:12). We know that we are prone to all kinds of inconsistencies and flaws. But, if we know Him, we know that He is unfailing, steadfast, all-powerful. I can be a faithful guardian of what God has given me, when I surrender to the Lordship of the Spirit, “striving according to His power which works mightily within me” (Colossians 1:29).
The Rock Church