Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – November 6, 2016
Theme: A Call to Christian Commitment – 1 & 2 Timothy
Topic: Fight the Good Fight: Godliness with Contentment
Main Texts: 1 Timothy 6:3-21
Key Verse: 1 Timothy 6:6-7: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (NIV)
Last Sunday, under the topic “Face Relationship Issues: Good Works are Evident”, we considered Paul’s instructions and counsel in 1 Timothy 5. We noted his openness in addressing sensitive relationship and demeanour issues from which many Churches shy. We noted the following key points:
- It is unhealthy for Church leadership to turn a blind eye or play deaf to issues of concern about individual misconduct in the Church as it gives room for gossips which undermine the testimony of the Church. Leaders must be bold to address such issues in a biblical way.
- Church welfare support should be extended to only those that are truly deserving, and should be administered with due diligence. This should include encouraging those in need to make use of support expected from their natural relations, and encouraging them to build their lives towards material independence.
- The Church should encourage widows who are young to be open to remarriage so as to provide some continuity for companionship, material support, and a fatherly leadership in the family. Pending this, other Church members should rally round the widows and provide whatever practical support they can for them.
This Sunday, we continue sharing thoughts on Paul’s counsel to Timothy as regards Church leadership organisation, and healthy living. Under the topic of “Fight the Good Fight: Godliness with Contentment”, we will be learning how to maintain a healthy attitude to material possessions. Our learning should include the following:
- Our real needs are far simpler and fewer than we often think; God reduces it all to food and clothing. While it is healthy to work to have more than these basic needs, we should not see acquisition of extra possessions as a requirement for living.
- God does bless us with material riches and indeed wants us to enjoy them. However, we must from time to time examine ourselves for the reason we seek wealth. Seeking material riches just to feel good about them amounts to the “love of money” which is “the root of all evil”.
- The material wealth with which God blesses us are for the purpose of sharing with others. However, in doing this, it is important we be led by the Holy Spirit to avoid unhealthy giving, such as giving to promote our ego, or giving in a way that prevents our beneficiary from achieving their potential.
In most contemporary churches that teach the need for faith, it is taught as an exercise aimed at receiving something from God. When someone needs healing, or money, seeks progress, victory in a challenging situation, or needs to “move some mountain”, we are taught to demonstrate faith in God. Of course, this is in order. However, living by faith goes beyond getting good things from God. Apostle Paul here draws Timothy’s attention to how faith is demonstrated in our attitude to material things. He notes that genuine faith makes godliness a priority and that all other things must be subordinate to godliness. He says that if one who is truly godly has nothing else other than food and clothing, he or she can be contented (v8). This is possible because true faith has a balanced perspective about life – that none of the material things we acquire will go with us beyond this life (v7).
1. Should we deem it unspiritual for a Christian whose food and clothing are assured to keep working towards a more comfortable and a little more luxurious quality of life?
Paul has some strong words for “those who want to get rich” in verse 9 of our text. Hear him: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” A casual reading of these words could give the impression that Paul deemed it evil to be rich. However, the key words here are “those who want to get rich”. Another version renders it as “those who are determined to be rich” (WEB). The issue therefore is the reason we seek to be rich. In verse 10, he refers to “the love of money” – indicating that the danger is in loving money – a state where one feels inadequate unless he has more money than he currently has. There were rich Christians in Paul’s days, just as we have today. Paul also notes that God does bless His children with material wealth, and that He wants those so blessed to enjoy it: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (v17) Rich Christians are quick to claim that they do not have “the love of money” and so are in line with God’s expectation on wealth.
2. What key personal questions can help us assess if we have a healthy attitude to material wealth?
The final word Paul has for wealthy Christians is that they “… be rich in good deeds, … generous and willing to share”. (v18), as this is how they can “lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age” (v18). While all rich Christians, and even many non-Christians acknowledge the need to be generous, there is often the question of “how”. Some try to do it by declaring love feasts for poor people in their neighbourhood on festive occasions – and word goes around about their generosity. Some donate to charity organisations. However, a Christian’s generosity should be guided by the Holy Spirit, otherwise it could easily be counter-productive, such as encouraging indolence and perpetual dependency, or seen to be currying fame.
3. How can a Christian develop sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading in being generous? ______________________________________________________________________________
Prayer: Father, we appreciate all the good things with which You bless us. Teach us to demonstrate faith in You by being open to share these things with others, under the guidance of Your Spirit, in Jesus’ name. Amen.