130922 I Timothy 6:6-16

Last Updated on Monday, 23 September 2013 Written by Pastor Pagels

Text: I Timothy 6:6-16
Theme: The Marks Of A Man Of God

Three men are seated in the same row of a crowded airplane...

On the aisle is an elderly, gray-haired gentleman, and as the crew prepares for takeoff he rocks back and forth nervously in his seat. Judging by the way he is gripping the black leather cover of the book in his hands, he does not like to fly.

Next to the window is a man in his forties. The expensive suit he is wearing will have to be pressed to get rid of all the wrinkles caused by this flight. He is tired, no, he is exhausted. But before he closes his eyes he pulls a picture out of his wallet and smiles.

The young man sitting between them is barely in his twenties. Maybe it's the multiple piercings. Maybe it's the tattoos that cover his bare arms. Maybe it's the music blaring out of his earphones, but he just isn't normal. He looks different. He looks like trouble.

One of these men is a devout Christian. Only one of these men trusts in Jesus as his Savior. One of them knows that if the plane crashes and he dies, he will go to heaven. The question is: Which one?

The old man with the Bible in his hands? Maybe, but what if that book isn't a Bible? What if he is holding a copy of the Koran or the Book of Mormon? Could it be the businessman? Sure. Maybe he keeps a picture of Jesus in his wallet. Or maybe it's a picture of his wife. But what if it's not? What if it's a picture of a co-worker with whom he is having an affair?

The only one we can rule out for sure is the punk kid, right? He doesn't look anything like a Christian... until we look a little closer. Those tattoos on his arms are Christian symbols, a cross, a triangle, a fish. And even though the music he is listening to is way too loud, it's loud enough to make out a few words...Jesus...Savior...Redeemer.

What is the moral of this story? It kind of sounds like the spiritual version of "You can't judge a book by its cover," but it's more than that. It challenges us to define what it means to be a Christian. When we look at other Christians, when other Christians look at us, are there certain things we should be able to see? Are there perhaps other things we can't see?

The apostle Paul addresses those questions in our text for today, and his answer for both is, "Yes." At the conclusion of this very personal and practical letter, Paul describes for Timothy and for us...

THE MARKS OF A MAN OF GOD

I. A godly life
II. A good confession

By addressing Timothy as a "man of God," Paul was putting his young friend in some pretty exclusive company. In the Old Testament that title is given to Moses and David and Elijah. And in the New Testament none of the disciples are given this distinction. Not Peter or James or John, or even the Apostle Paul. Only Timothy is described this way, and the description fits.

Timothy was a man of God. He was believer in God. He was a mission partner of Paul. Timothy was a pastor with a pastor's heart. And Paul wrote I Timothy to encourage Timothy to remain faithful to his calling.

But this epistle wasn't just written for clergy. And these verses weren't intended for men only. The encouragement for the shepherd is also for the sheep. Men, women, children, all the people of God can benefit from Paul's inspired words, words that encourage us to pursue a godly life.

Paul wrote to Timothy: "Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness" (11b). Did you notice what these six attributes have in common? They are much more abstract than concrete. Paul doesn't say: "If you want to be a Christian, if you want to show people that you are a Christian you need to do this and this and this." Paul focuses not on specific actions, but on spiritual attitudes. And in I Timothy 6 he draws attention to one specific attitude.

"Godliness with contentment is great gain" (6). God wants his people to obey him, to be like him, to be godly. And one of the marks of godliness is contentment. In fact, Paul calls godliness with contentment great gain.

If you have Jesus you have everything you need. If you have Jesus in your life you won't need to use all your time and energy pursuing the things of this life. Saving money isn't wrong, but no amount of money can keep you as secure as the Lord who promises to protect and provide. Status symbols aren't wrong, but they aren't worth much compared to your status as a redeemed child of God.

The things of this world are just that, the things of this world. "We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that" (7,8). We can understand that. We can agree with that. Being content means that you don't have to worry about having enough stuff. You don't have to worry about getting more stuff. You don't have to worry about taking care of all the stuff you have.

Like Job said we can't take it with us anyway. "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart" (1:21a). We aren't like the ancient Egyptians. We don't pack our funeral caskets full of supplies because we understand that we can't take our possessions with us when we die.

As long as we live in this world we can use the things God gives us. We can enjoy the things God gives us. We can be thankful for the things God gives us. But it makes no sense to get attached to them or become obsessed about them because they are temporary, because they don't last.
"If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." It's so simple. It should be obvious. But if it is that obvious, then why is it so hard? Why is it so hard to be content with what we have? Why is it so easy to be greedy?

Maybe we should ask Eve. She had everything, a perfect husband, a perfect home, a perfect relationship with God. And yet the devil convinced her that she needed more. She deserved to be like God. He told her to go ahead and take what God was trying to keep from her, so she did.

And when Eve ate the forbidden fruit she discovered that Satan wasn't telling her the whole truth. She learned the devil's dirty little secret. Greed will never satisfy. Greed is never satisfied. Greed holds out the promise of happiness, but ultimately it leads to death.

Paul elaborates: "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (9,10).

Benjamin Franklin once said: "Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody." That statement might be mildly amusing, but it isn't all that funny because it's true. Show me someone who says that he/she is always content and I will show you a liar. We can say the right things. We can try our best to do the right things. We might look healthy on the outside, but God can see what's happening on the inside.

Beneath the surface greed grows like a cancer. We don't fear and love and trust in God above all things. "In God we trust" may be printed on our money, but that doesn't stop us from putting our trust in the paper on which those words are printed.

Greed isn't the kind of thing that will get a person thrown in prison (like murder or stealing), but that doesn't make it any less serious. Greed is dangerous (if you have any doubts about that, re-read verses 9-10). Greed is a sin, a sin that leads to other sins, and sin separates people from God.

That's why Paul encouraged Timothy to run away from greed (11a), and that's what we need to do too. We need to run away from the sin of greed and into the arms of our merciful God. When you confess your sin, God will forgive you. Actually he has forgiven you, and he gives you the will and the strength to live a godly life. And that leads to another mark of a man of God: a good confession.

Paul encouraged Timothy: "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (12). Timothy was what we might call an adult confirmand. He had been raised in a God fearing home by his mother and his grandmother (II Timothy 1:5), but Paul was the one who told him about the fulfillment of all of God's promises. And it was probably at his baptism when Timothy confessed his Christian faith in the presence of others.

Timothy's confession was important because by it he proclaimed to the world exactly what he believed. Confessing our faith is important for the same reason. It is one thing (and a good thing) to live a God pleasing life. Your neighbor knows that you don't curse and swear, but unless you tell him he will never know why you don't do those things. Your boss recognizes that you are honest and dependable, but that doesn't tell her what motivates you to act that way.

That's where confession comes in. Confession fills in the blanks. Confession answers those questions. Confession allows us to tell the world what makes Christians tick: "What does it mean to be a Christian? It means that I believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior. He lived a perfect life for me. He sacrificed his life for me. Jesus has given me the hope of eternal life, and that is why I want to live my life for him."

Confession is proclamation. Confession is also evangelism. We share what we believe so that others might believe. We want to share what we believe so that others might believe, right? Or is that easier said that done? Are there reasons why Christians don't want to confess? We don't want to offend anyone. We don't want to be labeled. We don't want to be ridiculed.

Is it possible that Timothy struggled with some of the same issues? He was young. His work was difficult and sometimes dangerous. Don't you think there were times when felt intimidated? Don't you think there were times when he was tempted to keep his mouth shut?

That might explain why Paul encouraged him by reminding him of another good confession: "In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (13,14).

Jesus' life was in Pontius Pilate's hands. The Roman governor could release his prisoner...or crucify him. But none of that mattered to Jesus. He didn't beg for mercy. He didn't mute his confession. He reached out to Pilate. He spoke the truth to Pilate. He said: "I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me" (John 18:37).

In those words we find a bold confession. In that confession we find a wonderful example. But in the man who spoke those words we find even more. We find a Savior who suffered in our place. We find a Redeemer who rescued us from death. In Jesus we have forgiveness. In Jesus we have hope. In Jesus we have peace. We find the strength to live our faith and confess our faith until the appearing of Lord Jesus Christ.

And that leads to one more mark of a man or woman or child of God. Along with a godly life and a good confession, we praise God. Along with Paul and Timothy we praise "God, the blessed and only ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen" (15,16).

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