In this episode, we continue our series on success in the Kingdom of God. We are not talking about how to get rich, but how to be rich. The wealth of God’s Kingdom is not an external marker of achievement but an internal consistency of character. To help us see this, we will unpack 1 Timothy 6:6 and discuss what kind of gains this verse is talking about. We also discuss the means by which these will come.
We’re going to continue our series in How to be Rich as opposed to how to get rich. Part of the backdrop of all this, as you recall, is the reality that we are materially rich. If you go to globalrichlist.com, you can put in America, and you can put in the amount of money you make, and see where you fit in in the world.
If you put in $31,000 a year, you will see the little calculator pop up, and all the people zoom, and you’ll see that you’re in the upper 1 percent of income earners in the world at $31,000 a year.
If you put in $10,000 a year, you’re in the top 16 percent in the world, at $10,000 a year.
Then, of course, if you put in numbers that are like the starting salary for an engineer-type job, then, you get into the stratosphere. Because you live in America, and America is a tremendous aberration in both the world today and human history.
Al and I were talking this morning and speculating that if you were able to get into a time capsule and go back and actually live like Solomon lived in his house and in his bedroom without an iPad, no cell phone, you get to go on a chariot everywhere you go, get in one of those walking chairs where they carry you around. It might be cool for a little while, but then if they said, “OK, you want to keep living Solomon’s life or go back to Midland?” Bet you’d say I want my F-150 back. Because we just live in a ridiculously rich time. We’re incredibly blessed.
It turns out that that doesn’t actually make us rich. Let’s look at 1 Timothy 6 today.
We’ve been looking at different ways to be rich. Last week we looked at wisdom as a way of being rich. We looked at the reality that if we listen to God that is actually buying gold from God. We actually get treasure and gold and silver from listening to God. When we listen to God and understand and live life that way, we actually become incredibly rich.
A big gain
Today, we’re going to look at another component of being rich. You can’t get rich without getting a lot of stuff, a big gain. Let’s look at 1 Timothy 6:6.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
That’s a very interesting sentence, don’t you think? Now godliness with contentment is great gain. Of course richness involves great gain, a great accumulation.
Let’s look at what this means. Godliness with contentment is great gain. If godliness with contentment is great gain, then what would that tell us is not great gain? Godliness without contentment. That’s an interesting thought, isn’t it? It’s kind of funny sounding.
I looked at this word godliness some, and in the Lexicon, it talks about this word and several other words as being basically the same thing, which is piety. It’s the ancient idea of the proper way to behave toward a deity. The proper behavior toward a deity.
We can get a sense of this word in James 1. Let’s go to James 1. There a word that’s in this family—it’s not the same word—is translated religion.
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, or pious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s piety is useless.
One of the ways that you are pious or religious in a way that’s useless is if you can’t bridle to your tongue.
What does that mean “bridle to your tongue”? What happens if you get on a horse that doesn’t have a bridle on it? It just goes wherever it wants to go, right? That probably means back to the barn. An unbridled situation means there’s no control over it.
Well what does an unbridled tongue do? Trash other people. Why would you trash other people? What is the purpose of trashing another person? You elevate yourself. That’s one. You elevate yourself by depressing them.
What’s another reason to trash someone?
Because you’re upset.
Why would you trash someone because you’re upset?
Because you’re trying to get some sort of revenge.
Revenge. You’re paying them back. They need to be judged, and so you’re judging them with your tongue.
Which means you’ve appointed yourself, as what? The judge of the world. You put yourself in God’s shoes at that point in time. It’s playing God, controlling other people in various ways.
This is what an unbridled tongue does. An unbridled tongue is not a path to real piety. Because real piety would recognize me as God or God as God?
If I’m going to recognize God as God, knowing that I tend to want to get in his shoes, well then I’ve got to bridle my tongue. You see the point?
There’s this need for some control of ourselves, some self-control, if religion is going to be useful.
How could you be pious and still have an unbridled tongue? What would that look like?
Hypocrisy. What would you do to be pious? What’s a typical kind of thing? Again, we’re talking ancient world here. This is not Christianity or Judaism specific.
You’re judgmental. You’re judging other people.
You’re judging people. So piety. If you’re going to say these are pious things to do, what would the kind of things be that really are pious?
Maybe you do charity. Maybe you give stuff.
Follow the law.
You’d follow the rules. Every religion has some kind of rules, doesn’t it? You’re going you’re going to go to the thing, whatever the thing is. The thing might be the temple or the pagoda. Or the thing might be the assembly or the meeting or the sacrifice place or the festival or the Solstice or the whatever. You’re going to go to the thing, and you’re going to probably wear the stuff. You’re going to go to the thing and wear the stuff.
I think about how Christ described the Pharisees. They had outward robes; they liked to sit in high places. They liked to be noticed. They liked to pray these loud, public prayers.
Yeah. They did the thing, they wore the stuff, they followed the rules, right? Mint, dill, and cumin. Have you ever seen cumin? You ever pour a little cumin out? Can you imagine counting out 10 percent of the cumin? Go to the spice cabinet and start doing that? They were meticulous about following the rules. It’s very pious.
Now, did Jesus ever criticized them for doing those things?
Those things, no.
He never did. He never criticized them for following the rules. What did he say to do? Follow the rules, but—
He says it’s better not to leave these done and the others undone.
What did they leave undone? Mercy and justice. It’s OK to do the stuff and go to the thing and all that. It’s OK. That doesn’t really get to the point. The point is what flows out of your heart and your mouth, right? That’s kind of the point of this.
A big gain
Let’s go back to 1 Timothy 6 where we’re talking about getting the stuff. 1 Timothy 6. We are talking about gain. When I say the word gain, “Hey I had a phenomenal gain,” what pops into your head?
Money. I had a big money gain. What kind of gain would you expect somebody like me might have?
Hit a well.
A well. I had a big gain. We had a big well that hit. Stocks went up. Something like that.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
By that sentence, we know what about this gain? It’s not of this world. We know what this is not of this world. And isn’t that interesting that he says Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Isn’t that fascinating? What’s he getting at here? Why does he bring that sentence up?
Putting it in perspective that it’s true eternal gain.
It’s true eternal gain. It could be current, though. It doesn’t have to be something that we wait for. It’s a spiritual gain, let’s say, and an eternal gain.
Under the yoke
Let’s go back and look at this whole context here. Start in verse 1.
Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke—
What does that mean, a bondservant under the yoke? What’s a yoke? It’s the harness. It’s the harness, right? Why do you put an ox under the harness?
To control it.
So you can control it. To do what? Work. You’re a bondservant, and you are employed to work. You have an obligation to work if you’re a bondservant. Is that right?
Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor,
If you’re an ox and you’ve got a yoke on, how do you honor your master?
You do what you’re supposed to do.
Which is what? What are you supposed to do? Work. Right. Pull hard! Yeah, get those horns on that burden and push!
And encourage others to do the same.
And encourage others to do the same. Yes. Why? Why do you want to do that?
—so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed.
Isn’t that interesting? What may be happening here? What do you infer from this?
It’s like you do it because you want to.
Your employer asks you to do something. You say, “I don’t want to do that.” But how could you do that in such a way that the name of God and his doctrine would be blasphemed?
Bad attitude. What particularly? What’s the attitude you could have it would really bring blasphemy?
“You’re not the boss of me!”
You’re not the boss of me. Who’s my boss? God is my boss! If God tells me to do this, then I’ll do it. I’ve got more important things to do. I’m witnessing. I’m praying. You may think I’m fishing when you see me on the outside, but inside I’m petitioning for the saints all over the world.
Don’t use your service to God as an excuse not to work. That will blaspheme God. Work all the more for your master, even if your master’s ungodly.
And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren—
Why would you despise your boss because he’s a brother or your master if you’re a slave? Slaves in this time period mostly have an economic contract. If you will do this for me, get me out of debt or redeem my house or whatever, I’ll work for you for seven years type thing, for the most part.
You say, “my believing master.” Why would you despise your master because he’s a believer?
Jealous. It could be jealousy.
He’s making you work.
“Look, we’re brothers here. You’re asking me to do all this work. Why don’t you lighten up? Matter of fact, why don’t you just let me out of my contract? Matter of fact, why don’t you just give me all your stuff? Matter of fact, why don’t we just swap places because we’re brothers, right? Why should you ask me to do all that work? You didn’t ask Hermann to do all that work. He’s a believer.”
Because he’s scary.
No one owes you
He’s too scary. If you have a believing master, don’t despise them because they’re brethren but
—but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Work for them even harder! Teach and exhort these things.
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words—
What kind of teaching has been going on here? False teaching is going on. What’s the underlying message here to this false teaching? “Because I’m a believer these people owe me.”
In fact, if we go back to the unbridled tongue, when we’re criticizing or we’re trying to control, really what we’re saying is, “This person owes me. They’re obligated in some way to perform for me for my benefit. All I’m doing is giving me, myself, my just due.”
This is a pretty easy attitude to slip into. We’re all kind of born with it. Have you noticed that?
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,
he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words—
You know there’s a whole stream of teaching about prosperity that says God owes you, and if he doesn’t perform for you, then you’re doing something wrong. It’s your fault because if you don’t have the right kind of faith, then God won’t perform his tricks. If you do have the right kind of faith, God will perform his tricks. Which means you’re in control, and God will perform for you. It’s a very popular way of thinking.
We like to think we’re in control. This all amounts to the same thing.
We have a master that’s asking us to do stuff, and we say, “That’s not reasonable. That is not a reasonable request. You’re obligated to put me in circumstances that make me comfortable. I’m not going to do that job that you gave me to do. It’s beneath me.” Same difference, right?
What that attitude is is proud. Of course it’s proud! Because it says, “I know better. I should be in control. You should serve me.”
It likes disputes and arguments over words. Isn’t this how we make this attitude manifest is with words?
Marxism is this way. Marxism died in the form of communism, but it’s just remorphing itself into a new strain. Marxism is still real powerful. It’s basically taken over our universities, for the most part.
What they promote is this attitude. They owe you! They owe you! Who owes you? Well, they do! They owe you! The man! The man owes you! Who’s the man? They’re the man.
They’re just promoting this. And what they’re really saying is, what? If you have this attitude of “you owe me,”—you can have it with anybody, can’t you? You can have it with your spouse. “You owe me.” What have you done really?
Placed yourself above them.
Who’s controlling who? You’re trying to control them. What’s really happening? They’re controlling you! You’ve actually made yourself a slave to them! How?
My happiness is depending on you! That’s why I have to be so virulent and possessive about this is because my whole being and happiness is depending on you smiling at me right now! If you don’t, I’m going to crater! Don’t you realize? I have to control you! Because my happiness is dependent on you.
Isn’t it interesting how things always end up upside down when we do it the world’s way?
Of course, that leads to disputes and arguments because that’s how I try to control you because my happiness is dependent on you.
We now have 14,000 women in Malawi that have gone through the Changing Me program. Anybody in here done some of that teaching? Yes.
And that’s the point of the whole program, isn’t it? That if you say my happiness depends on my husband behaving a certain way, you’re a slave. If you start saying, hey, I’m just going to let God change me from the inside out, I’ll try serving my husband, you’re not a slave anymore. You’re free.
What’s been the basic response from those women?
So supportive of the men there, and they’re very submissive to the men there.
Yes. Inwardly they’re madder than heck. This has just freaked them out that—
They don’t have to be mad anymore.
Now they know that they answer to Christ.
Yeah. Their happiness is not dependent on the way their husbands act. What have the husbands’ responses been?
Wow. I like this.
Why do they like it? Because they already had “submissive” wives, but what’s different now?
The attitude. Yeah, they’re not being submissive out of obligation now; they’re doing it because they want to. The men are like, “Hey! What would you do to my wife?” Right?
They’re not trying to control their husbands.
They’re not trying to control their husbands. We know men love to be controlled by women.
This won’t work in America, will it?
Well, of course! Your wife, after she taught this in Malawi, came back and was a changed person. James, do you want to tell us all about that?
Using religion for earthly gain
from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,
useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
Do you see the connection of godliness as a means of gain with the first couple of verses? How does that work? How is godliness a means of gain?
I’m more pious than you, so you have to do for me.
You have to do for me because, yeah, my piety causes me to be able to obligate you to do something for me.
Have you ever had somebody tell you you’re obligated to hire them because they’re a Christian? You’re obligated to buy their stuff?
I’ve learned when somebody starts telling me what a great Christian they are, all my antennas go up. What does that tell me? They’re hiding something really bad. That they’ve got some kind of shield up because there’s something bad wrong underneath because their performance of actually doing the job isn’t going to be sufficient, so they have to have a cover of some kind.
That’s not always the case, but it’s pretty typically the case. Because these guys think piety is a means of gain. Hey, if I put this shield on, if I put this label on, if I wear this badge, I can make more money! Or I can obligate people to advance me!
—From such withdraw yourself. Don’t have you don’t have anything to do with that. That’s just corrupt. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. So it’s not this obligating the world; it’s something completely different.