1 Timothy 6:17-21 It is man’s spirit that determines his moral inclinations, not knowledge
1 Timothy 6:17-21
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— 21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.
Grace be with you.
Paul concludes his letter with an explicit instruction to the rich to lay hold of eternal life by sharing their wealth while in their youth. He also commands Timothy to guard the sanctity of the gospel teaching by being steadfast on the path of godliness. The best way to neutralise what is falsely called “knowledge” is to walk in line with the Spirit of Christ and to teach His virtues. In today’s devotion, we learn that a man’s spirit determines his moral inclinations, not knowledge. A man upon receiving a certain knowledge will either approve or disapprove of it depending on the spirit within him. Hence, at inception, he must be birthed of the Spirit of Christ and not the spirit of the world.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
Paul returns to address the rich charging them not to be conceited as many of them hold on to wealth as the bedrock of their glory. If a man derives his worth from his earthly possessions, he despises his heavenly heritage and birthright as a child of God. The fact that it requires the sacrifice of God’s own Son to redeem humanity speaks of the immeasurable value of man’s soul. Jesus teaches that the value of a single soul outweighs the value of the whole world, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26.
Since a man’s possession has no bearing over his intrinsic worth, a rich man is no more valuable than a poor man, but only the privilege of being a conduit of blessing to the needy. Nevertheless, many of the rich is imprisoned by the curse of poverty, obsessed with the glitter of perishable gold unable see pass it.
Here is a mystery: poor people (in general) possess an uncanny ability to trust God with their livelihood and live relatively carefree lives. On the other hand, the rich (in general) in spite of their vast resources are beset with uncertainties and anxieties. Poverty in a sense has helped avert the eyes of man from the earthly to the heavenly. Even so, God does not desire man to live poorly but to reign over the inheritance of the earth. Hence, God has provided his children with all things to enjoy. Even then, the rich find it inordinately difficult to trust God with their future.
Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
Paul urges the rich to acquire a renewed understanding of their role as trustees of God’s resources. Many of the rich refuse to share their wealth supposing that as the fruit of their labour, their rightful enjoyment. But the psalmist writes, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. The world, and those who dwell in it.” Psalm 24:1. Jesus warns against greed and selfishness says to the rich of His day, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” Luke 12:20. Therefore, God has entrusted His resources to man with the command to share and be generous at heart.
Paul, in saying, “be rich in good works” implies that one who is plentifully supplied should also be plentiful in good works. Wealth in the hands of the possessor is to entrust with the duty to distribute it. In doing so, he will store up a kind of treasure that is not of this world; treasure acquired not by works of greed, but by good works arising from a generous heart that is ready to share. Paul uses the word good foundation in denoting the basis of God’s reward system to be unveiled on the day of judgment. Without the foundation of generosity and charity, there is no honour and eternal life. It is regrettable that many who possess much on earth will on that day become paupers in God’s kingdom.
O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.
What has been entrusted under Timothy’s watch is the truth according to the Spirit of Christ. The most potent power in all of creation, that which holds the key to avert the tsunami of death and the advance of hell is the truth. The sound words, the doctrine that espouses Christ-likeness – His purity, His sacrificial love for humanity and His unyielding obedience to God.
The stance that Timothy must take is to avoid, not to engage, but to avoid worldly and empty chatter. The way to neutralise the opposing arguments, is to stay focused on the values of Christ, the beacon of the Holy Spirit. The temptation is to engage the opposing arguments directly and in the process become sidetracked from the true course of emulating Christ. The stratagem of the devil is to keep raising controversies: what is falsely called “knowledge”, so that in engaging them the church become distracted from her true endeavour, which is godliness.
“Knowledge” refers to teachings that purport to hold promises towards a more “blessed” life, while alleviating the believer from the rigours associated with sanctification and godliness. Believers who are discontent with their lot, or who are impatient with the way God is moving will be drawn to such “knowledge”. In fact, many will be indignant for having been kept in the dark concerning such “knowledge” – which they claimed as the secret to a blessed life. The fact is, many who professed to such “knowledge” are already tepid towards God and His works. Hence, they retain a form of Christianity but devoid of the faith and mission of Christ, and for that matter the early church disciples, Paul and the patriarchs of the Old Testament.
Because the shelf life of wealth is limited, man must share it while he is young.
One can think of no less than two reasons why man must share his wealth and do good while he is young. The first reason, a superior one, derives itself from the Lord’s command of loving others by putting their interests before one’s own. It is unconscionable to hoard wealth while many have no food, no education and no decent medical attention. To share is to testify to the reality of Christ in us.
The second reason, an inferior one but nonetheless legitimate, is consequential to one’s eternal future. Paul urges the rich to give for the sake of storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. In short, to share is to lay hold of one’s eternal life. It is not uncommon for the rich to have their wealth suddenly taken away from them in their golden years. Through no fault of theirs, they are suddenly stripped of their earthly security, incapacitated by a freak accident or by economic tremors of some distant powers. While they reel at the reality of their losses, what stands out among the many regrets, is the loss of opportunity to build a good foundation for eternal life. They have ignored the fact that wealth carries a limited shelf life, whilst eternal life has no end. The wealth they have so painstakingly acquired and guarded is no more and gone with the wind forever. Therefore, one must share his wealth while he has the vitality to do so. To hoard wealth is to lay waste to one’s eternal life.
Yet, many choose to keep wealth close to their chest refusing to give them away until they have no power to enjoy it. At the flickering of life’s ambers, he parts with his wealth hoping to earn himself a place in the halls of eternal life. By then, it is like giving away food that is nearly expired, a pointless endeavour, a final act of selfishness before the curtain falls. King Solomon writes,
Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:6-7
Solomon urges the young to remember God and serve Him while they are young. When a man becomes old and frail, his days are of little value to God, and so is his wealth.
It is man’s spirit that determines his moral inclinations, not knowledge.
Christendom will not disagree, that every word of the bible is God breathed. But more importantly, it is the spirit of a man that determines moral inclinations and life direction, not knowledge. Hence, when one is initiated into God’s kingdom, it is important that he must be birthed of the right spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of a man is like the lenses through which he perceives the word and the world. The Spirit of Christ enables one to understand the word through which he becomes like Jesus in every aspect and to accomplish His mission. On the other hand, the spirit of the world seeks out promises (from the bible) in helping him fulfil his own desires. In short, the Spirit of Christ is trained towards godliness, and the spirit of the world is trained towards acquiring blessings for himself.
In Paul’s terms, “knowledge” are arguments or teachings that opposes the Spirit of Christ, for it focuses on helping people realise their personal desires. This “knowledge” often prides itself in making bold claims towards a glorious life without the rigours of sanctification. People who do not possess the Spirit of Christ have no ability to discern and are predominantly led by their desires. They also prefer a simplistic interpretation of the word without having to plough through the bible to ascertain it’s worth. A man upon receiving a certain knowledge will either approve or disapprove of it depending on the spirit within him. To discern the spirit of a messenger or an establishment, here are some guidelines.
a. Is the thrust of the messenger or establishment coherent with the prophetic thrust of both the Old and New Testament, which is repentance towards godly living?
b. Does the teaching progress beyond the elementary doctrine of justification towards the virtues of Christ, the narrow gate?
c. Is there an emphasis on the discipline of reading the word as opposed to listening to messages by a certain teacher?
d. Do the teachings help members fight the good fight in overcoming their sinful nature through the Holy Spirit?
e. Does the messenger point members to the day of judgment and propel them to seek eternal life and glory as opposed to things of this world?
Are you double-minded concerning the things of God and constantly vacillating between the Spirit and the flesh? Thus, you are mostly tepid to God’s word and being occupied with the cares of life. The Spirit speaks to you today as Elijah spoke in his days, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21. Therefore, be birthed of the Spirit of Christ, and serve Him wholehearted by giving your time and resources, and you will experience abundant living like never before.
Dear Lord, help me in my unbelief and in my inability to trust you completely. I desire to share my wealth and lay hold of eternal life. Fill me with the Spirit of truth and cause me to live out the essence of Christ in my family and work place. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.