1 Timothy 6: “God v. Mammon”

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul covers everything from slaves honoring their masters, to false teaching, to righteous living, and a large section on how to handle money. Either way, Paul’s wrapping up his letter and Timothy, as well as us, needs to be paying attention.

Mammon

In his book, “The Blessed Life”, Robert Morris shares an incredible teaching about our inability to serve two masters; God and money (or mammon).

It’s in Matthew 6 that we read these words from Jesus, 24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money (mamónas). (NLT)

Here’s something interesting, the word “money” appears in the bible 113 times, but Jesus didn’t use the word money here. He actually used the word “mammon,” and to take that a step further, this is only thing Jesus said you can’t serve both God and this. We don’t have this anywhere else in the entire bible.

So what it “mammon?” Mammon is an Aramaic word that simply means “riches, money, possessions, or property.” You also need to know that Mammon is a spirit. Mammon is the spirit, the false god of riches that Jesus is referring to in these passages. Again, His listeners would have understood that when He used the word mammon, he was referring to the Assyrian false god of riches.

You also need to know, Mammon is sneaky. Mammon promises us the things that only God can give us. Think about what Mammon promises…

  • Security: If you had more money you’ll be secure.
  • Identity: If you had more money people will listen to you.
  • Freedom: If you had more money you could go where you want, when you want, and do what you want.
  • Happiness: If you had more money you’d be happy, you’d have a good marriage, and people would respect you.

Hear me: Mammon promises you everything, but delivers nothing!

The Greek translates it to mamónas. The biblical scholar Joseph Henry Thayer says, mammon is a term for, “the treasure a person trusts in.”

Paul would tell us here in 1 Timothy 6:17 (NLT) 17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.

Reality Check

Now before you check out and say, “well, that’s talking about “rich people” and I’m not a rich person,” reality check… unless this reflection was printed off, fell off a truck, and you happen to pick it up on the side of the road, trust me, you’re considered rich by the world’s standards. The UN (United Nations) reports the following information:

Nearly half the world’s population, 2.8 billion people, survive on less than $2 a day. About 20 percent of the world’s population, 1.2 billion people, live on less than $1 a day. Nearly 1 billion people are illiterate and 1 billion do not have safe water.

Please hear me, this isn’t meant to make anyone feel guilty or convict anyone, only the Holy Spirit has the ability to convict, instead, this is meant to help us to understand the passage is more inclusive than exclusive regarding the topic of money.

The Love of Mammon

 

I hate it when I hear people/pastor’s misquote 1 Timothy 6:10. You typically hear it said, “Money is the root of all evil.” (insert Family Feud buzzer noise here) That’s not what it says at all. The scripture reads, “10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”

Let me help you out here. Yes Paul is talking specifically about money here, but the truth is, the love of ANYTHING other than God, is the root of all kinds of evil!

Closing

Think about it, money is neutral. You can use it for both good or bad. Listen, money doesn’t spend itself. Money always needs someone to tell it what to do. The difference is, who is the person listening to in order to help make the decisions. Paul isn’t just warning a young pastor, he’s speaking to you and me in 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT)Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

 

1 Timothy 5: “All About the Golden Girls”

Over the last couple of days we’ve had the opportunity to look in on a letter written by Paul to a young pastor named Timothy. Chapter 5 will reveal quite a few things about Timothy, like the fact that he had a stomach issue (v. 23). Many scholars believe Timothy’s stomach problems were in relation to the monumental task of leading the church in Ephesus.

You have to remember, at this point Timothy is only 30 years old and he’s leading a church that not only Paul has led, but also experienced one of the greatest revivals in church history. This is a tall order for even the most seasoned pastor, let alone a wet-behind-the-ears pastor like Timothy.

As we will read, Paul wanted to continue to teach Timothy how to lead as a pastor to the people. While much of Chapter 4 and come of Chapter 5 is of personal concern to Timothy, we also find Paul wanting Timothy to pay special attention to certain groups within the congregation. The prime example Paul uses is the treatment of widows and elders in the church. Later in the Chapter Paul also communicates some instructions concerning slaves who were believers.

Widow Benevolence Application

Like many churches, we offer Benevolence to many different people, both inside and outside the church. The only thing we require in return is for the person to fill out an application giving the church relevant information to make a healthy/informed decision on what type of benevolence is most important. Sometimes our benevolence isn’t in the form of finances, but instead comes in the form of coaching or helping.

I’m sure Timothy was grateful for the wisdom Paul provided concerning who and how to serve in a widow ministry. He basically provides Timothy with a “Widow Benevolence Application:”

Please answer Yes or No to the following questions:

  1. Are you over the age of 60?
  2. Where you faithful to her husband when he was alive?
  3. Are you well respected by everyone because of the good you have done
  4. Have you brought up your children well?
  5. Have you been kind to strangers and served other believers humbly?
  6. Have you helped those who are in trouble?
  7. Have you always been ready to do good?

If you have answered Yes to all of the above questions, congratulations, you qualify for Widow Benevolence. 

Now Paul will tackle the seedy younger widows who seem to only stir up trouble and get lazy because they’re on the Widow Benevolence List. I kind of laughed when I read this section. Basically Paul says these younger widows are…

  • Lazy
  • Gossips
  • Medelers
  • Talk about things they shouldn’t talk about

You’re potentially going to this I’m crazy, but think about 1 Timothy 5 in reference to the Golden Girls. Now, hold on with me… For those of you born after 1980, the Golden Girls was an iconic T.V. show centered on four mature woman living in Miami experiencing the highs and lows of their golden years. The show ran from 1985-1993 and was famous for the theme song, which also summed up the show, “Thank You for Being A Friend.” (cue the singing)

When you look past the surface you’ll see what I mean. For many of the “girls,” they were either widowed or family of a widow. Dorthy was the responsible daughter who was still taking care of her aging mother Sophia. Then there was the quirky roommate Rose who could be referred to as the Widow maker.

I can’t help but think of 1 Timothy 5:11 in reference to this scene from 1989…

“The Golden Girls: High Anxiety (#4.20)” (1989)

Blanche Devereaux: [describing her temptations after her husband George died] There was a man. He asked me to sleep with him. I said, *No*. But I knew something greater than my will-power was necessary for me to resist him, so I called my sister.
Rose Nylund: Did she help talk you through it?
Blanche Devereaux: Oh, better than that. She drove straight over, she took him by the throat, she said if he ever tried that again she would shoot him through the head.
Dorothy Petrillo-Zbornak: Just because he made a pass at you?
Blanche Devereaux: Oh, did I forget to mention that the man was my sister’s husband?

…and the bookend verse of that section? Verse 15 For I am afraid that some of them have already gone astray and now follow Satan.

Just saying…

1 Timothy 4: “Put Your Own Mask On First”

1 Timothy 4:12-13 (NLT) 12 Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.13 Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.

Being a youth pastor for eight years I used this verse often to encourage my teenagers to realize that they should never be looked over because of their age. Although this scripture does have value to teenagers, it has even more value to a brand new senior pastor who took over an incredible church at the age of 32!

Truth is, when we read this passage in context, Paul was writing to a young pastor named Timothy. The word “young” used by Paul is actually a word that indicated “a grown-up military age, extending to the 40th year” (Lock). Through careful scrutiny of the scripture we can conclude that Timothy was roughly 30 years old at this point. We also know that Paul was probably around 70 when he wrote this letter.

So when we read this passage again, we begin to see what exactly Paul is indicating in this passage. Paul is not only encouraging Timothy, but he’s also encouraging him to be an example to all believers…

  • in what you say
  • in the way you live
  • in your love
  • your faith
  • and your purity

He goes onto to instruct Timothy to do three primary things…

  • focus on reading the scripture to (the church)
  • encourage the believers
  • and teaching (the church)

Paul continues… 1 Timothy 4:14-16 (NLT) 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. 15 Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.

I read and re-read these words I can’t help but be reminded of the call that God has placed on my life. My hope and prayer is that I too will live and lead in such a way that my life will be live in honor to God. I especially appreciate verse 16 and the warning to, “keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching.” It sounds pretty common, but there’s something very important to glean from this teaching. Pay attention to the order that Paul instructs Timothy:

  1. Keep a close watch on how you live
  2. Keep a close watch on your teaching

The priority for a pastor is not to focus first on the teaching and let it spill over into their life; instead the focus should be on the way they live, which will spill over to the way they teach. Again we see Paul making sure to focus on the next priority:

  1. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation
  2. Stay true to what is right for the sake of the salvation of those who hear you

Again, the first focus should be your own salvation, THEN the salvation of others.

Put Your Mask On First

Many times in ministry I sit with people who are struggling with guilt over who they should help first, themselves or others? I typically tell them this analogy.

If you pay attention to the flight crews announcements before a flight, you will often hear the following announcement. “In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the overhead panels…  Parents traveling with younger children should first secure their own mask, and THEN their child’s mask.”

The Takeaway

Like an unconscious parent is useless to help their children, so is a pastor or ministry leader who doesn’t take care of themselves spiritually, first.

 

1 Timothy 3: “Elders, Deacons, and You”

Paul continues to write to his young protege Timothy regarding leadership in the church. Paul’s desire at this point is to basically right out the resume for an elders and deacons in the church. In my tribe (Church of the Nazarene), we do delineate between elders and deacons, but we view those as pastors in the church and not lay leaders. Although here in Paul’s letters there is no distinction between whether her’s referring to pastor’s or lay leaders, it’s safe to assume that at this point they were looking for “qualified” lay leaders to serve as pastors in the church.

The Pastor and The Mule

In the life of the church there are men and women who are called by God to lead the church and Shepherd God’s flock. I do believe that everyone is called to serve God and advance his Kingdom, but for pastors, their call comes with a higher level of accountability. Remember the words of Jesus’ brother James concerning the role of teachers in the church, James 3:1 (NLT) Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. 

But someone needs to step up, someone needs to lead the church that way God wants it led; that means sometimes taking the initiative.

A farmer’s mule once got very sick, so the farmer called in a vet who, after a thorough examination, gave the farmer some very large pills. “Give the mule one of these pills 3 times a day, and he’ll recover.” The farmer takes one look at the pills and says, “Hey doc, how am I supposed to get these pills down the mule’s throat?” The vet smiles and says, “Easy. Find a piece of pipe wide enough to fit the pill into. Put one end of the pipe into the mule’s mouth, put the pill in, and blow on the other end. Before he knows what’s happening, the mule will swallow the pill.” The vet drove back to his office, but a few hours later the farmer comes staggering in looking terribly sick. “Man, you look awful! What happened!” The farmer replies, “THE MULE BLEW FIRST!”

The moral of the story is somebody has to take the initiative—even in the church.

1 Timothy 3:1-13 (NLT)  is the place where we find Paul building the resume of both “elders” and “deacons.” The term translated overseer in the NIV was first used outside the church to refer to supervisors of various sorts. As a description of one level of church leadership, it appears in Acts 20:28 and, again alongside “deacons,” in Philippians 1:1.

Elder and Deacon List

Criteria for an Elder:

  1. Above reproach: Because it stands at the head of the list, it means: “Not liable to criticism as he would be if he failed in any of these qualities”
  2. Husband of one wife—completely faithful to his wife
  3. Exercise self control
  4. Live wisely and
  5. Have a good reputation
  6. Enjoy having guests in his home
  7. Able to teach—not just teaching gift; but spiritually prepared to teach others truths
  8. Not be a heavy drinker
  9. Not be violent
  10. Gentle
  11. Not quarrelsome
  12. Not love money
  13. Manage his family well
  14. Not a recent convert
  15. Respected by outsiders

Criteria for Deacons:

  1. Well respected
  2. Have integrity
  3. Not a heavy drinker
  4. Not dishonest with money
  5. Committed to the central truths of the faith
  6. Have a clear conscience
  7. Manage his family well
  8. Be faithful to his wife

Here’s something interesting to note about the two lists, the focus of the list is not the duty of an elder or deacon, but instead the focus is on their reputation both with believers and unbelievers.

This is a list for anyone to aspire too today. You don’t have to be a pastor to live to this standard, but as a pastor, you really don’t have a choice.

1 Timothy 2: “Pray for ALL People”

1 Timothy 2:1-6 (NLT) I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people (not just some people, all people). (NRSV) I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

Remember, Paul is teaching a young pastor the finer points of leading a congregation. So understanding Paul’s intention only helps us to understand the scriptures intention. He guides young Timothy to teach different way of communicating with God. Supplications, Prayers, Intercessions, and Thanksgiving: These terms are not limited too, but instead describe the wide categories of our communication with God.

 Supplication

Supplication is simply asking for something. Prayer should never be all asking, but it should ask in bold confidence from God’s Word.

I remember a story about a little boy who prayed and prayed for a BMX Bike. He even got on his little knees, by his little bed, folded his little hands, and began to pray a huge, bold prayer for God to deliver him a brand new BMX bike. He continued to pray that he would know God loved him if he God got him the BMX bike. He would know that God is real if the BMX bike showed up at his house.

His mother, who was with him, said, “buddy, God is not someone to be bartered with.” She continues, “You can’t blackmail God into doing what you want Him to do.”

Fast forward… Christmas came and everyone in the family knew what the little boy wanted for Christmas. As the mom came down the steps she realized there was something missing from the nativity scene on the mantle. Going over she realized that Mary was missing and there was a note in her place. The note read:

Dear Jesus,

If you ever want to see your mother again you’ll get me that BMX bike I’ve been praying for. 

Love,  Timmy

You see, it’s funny when a little child does it, but it’s not so funny when adults do it.

Prayer

Paul is referencing here the broad communication with God through the use of the word “prayer.” All of these aspects are aspects of prayer.

Intercession

Intercession refers to the requests we make on behalf of others. As we pray, there should be time when the needs of other find a place in our prayer before God’s throne. There are times in my life when God brings to me the needs of others. In those moments I realize that my needs are far less than those around me. Ezekiel 22:20 (NLT) “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.

Did you catch that? God was looking for just one person to stand in the gap of the wall, but he couldn’t find even one! Intercessory prayer stands in the gap for those who are perishing. Intercession is praying to God so that he won’t have to destroy the person who’s far from him.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an essential part of our walk with God. It’s simply recognizing God’s sovereignty. Paul indicated that every time we pray we should include a time of thanksgiving (eucharistias).

Again, remember who Paul is telling Timothy to pray for. He’s telling him to pray in Thanksgiving for… kings (Nero) and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

Paul wasn’t just telling Timothy to pray, he was telling him to pray for those who were actively persecuting the church! This is my point for today: When we pray, we need to pray prayers of supplication, intercession, and thanksgiving; even if it means for those who desire to kill us. Pray today for ALL People!

1 Timothy 1: “Who’s Your Timothy?”

Timothy

We first meet Timothy in Acts 16:1-3. Remember? Paul shared in Acts 16 that he found a young disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish Christian mother and a Greek father. His story and Paul’s story look quite similar. In fact, Paul believes in Timothy’s ability to reach both Jews and Gentiles that he encourages Timothy to be circumcised. Now that’s commitment! Listen to Paul’s recommendation of Timothy in Philippians 2:20 (NLT) 20 I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare.

Paul has written many letters during his ministry and they each can be categorized into two different categories: Church Epistles and Pastoral Epistles. 1 and 2 Timothy is the start of Paul’s Pastoral Epistles and are personal letters he wrote to Timothy, a young pastor in a new ministry. As we will read, these letters are intended to both encourage and instruct.

1 Timothy 1:3, 18-19 (NLT) When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees.  

18 Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. 19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear.

Who Is Your Timothy?

These aren’t just idol words from Paul. These are words that are heart felt and personal to a person he even referred to as ” his true son in faith (v.2).” These are words from a mentor to a student; from a spiritual father to a spiritual son.

My wife and I had the opportunity to serve together for eight years in full-time ministry. We were at a point in our leadership that while my wife oversaw birth through 6th grade, I was fortunate to oversee 7th through 12th. So between the two of us, we were responsible for helping shape spiritual maturity from birth to graduation! No pressure! We found that the number one way to be effective in ministry was consistency. In a world were the average youth pastor is at a church for sixteen months…yes, you read that correctly, sixteen months, consistency is something that is seriously lacking in our churches. One of the other keys to effectiveness was mentoring.

Although we mentored LOTS of kids and teenagers, and I could tell you story after story, I want to share with you one. Joe was the kinda quiet, kinda squirrelly kid in the children’s department who was friends with everyone. This trait didn’t leave him later in life as Joe was the chameleon personality you relished in your youth ministry. Not only was Joe a great kid, but Joe had parents that afforded him time to help out at the church. He wasn’t one of those kids that needed to be at the church to stay out of trouble, he was one of those kids that was bound and determined to make a difference in the world.

My wife and I had the privilege of mentoring Joe, in fact, he’s now serving full time in a great church as the head of their media department. This is not a surprise considering he ran the sound for our worship band even in high school. The coolest thing for us was watching Joe grow and mature to the incredible young man he is today. We even have the opportunity next week to watch him get married!

Let me ask you… who is your Joe? Who is a person or persons in your life that you are pouring into and encouraging? Many people would say, “well, you’re a pastor.” You know what I say to that? Malarky! The call to mentor, or dare I say disciple, is a call to each and every believer. These mentoring, disciple-making, modeling relationships are not just from Pastor to people. These relationships are from pastor to people, and people to people, and even people to pastors, or at least they should be. This is exactly the relationship we find in Paul and Timothy.