1 Timothy 6:11-16 Be motivated by divine commission, not by personal agenda
1 Timothy 6:11-16
11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time —He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
Paul lays out two diametrically opposing values and urges Timothy to fight the good fight in maintaining godly virtues in the churches he oversees. In keeping the commandment without stain or reproach, he secures the eternal life of great gains and glory on the day of judgment. In today’s devotion, we learn the importance of being motivated by divine commission and not by personal agenda. And the virtues of Christ are like refined gold that can be acquired today and which remains in our possession forever.
But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
Paul urges Timothy to make a decisive choice: to flee from these things, and pursue righteousness… By these things, Paul refers to the love of money, fame and selfish gain. The love of money, fame and selfish gains are the primary motivations behind the advance of the devil’s kingdom. While righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness represent the virtues that emanates from the throne of God. Notice the battle (the fight) is fought in the arena of the heart and the outcome of the battle is determined by the motivations and pursuits of man.
To flee is to seek safety from danger by eluding or avoidance. The devil’s stratagem is to seek entrance into man’s heart through subliminal messages and the spirits of deception. In doing so, it precipitates greed and other fleshly instincts, by giving it reason to fester in the believer. Some circles have been advocating that since God’s love is unconditional and limitless, He desires for everyone to have infinite wealth and enjoyment, thus condoning a kind of “legitimate” greed. Hence, for one to not call forth the unprecedented “blessings” of God is tantamount to denying God’s love and depriving oneself of his Christian rights. This is a far cry from the godly contentment that Paul advocates. As a result, many have responded to this different doctrine and taint their hearts with greed being pierced with many griefs. Therefore, Timothy must not underestimate the insidious and subliminal stratagems of the devil but pay attention to the word and the inclinations of his own heart. Therefore, Timothy’s goal is to actively inculcate Christ’s virtues into the church beginning with himself.
Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
The pathway to eternal life of great gains and glory is paved with innumerable battles against a formidable enemy. The enemy’s goal is to steal the believer’s gains and glory by tainting their hearts with greed, and by lowering their guard against enticing doctrines. Paul instructs Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith”, which is to put up a vigilant and determined fight against a formidable opponent. Many are deceived into thinking that Jesus had won the war and there are no more battles to fight. Although the age old struggle for control over creation has been won and the dominion of the Spirit has overcome sin and death, but the battle within the hearts of man are still raging. Therefore, in the light of Timothy’s vow (which he made through a confession) to uphold the purity of the gospel in the church, Paul urges Timothy to lay hold of eternal life by fighting the good fight.
I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time.
Paul’s charge to Timothy in the presence of God has revealed God as the ultimate authority behind the commission. As a precedence to Timothy’s confession of his faith and calling, Paul draws upon Jesus’ own confession before Pontius Pilate. When asked by Pontius Pilate, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:37. Timothy must endeavour to keep the commandments (the sound words of Jesus Christ) contained in the gospel and fulfil his call without stain or reproach. Jesus, for the sake of humanity refuses to relent in the face of great suffering accomplishes His calling. Likewise, Timothy is to fulfil his call in an impeccable and faithful manner. Paul, in His charge to Timothy may have come across as overbearing expecting nothing less than perfection. However, with the many souls at stake, it is absolutely necessary that the charge reflects the gravity and seriousness of the commission.
He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
Paul rehearsed the titles and attributes of God in order to help Timothy realise the true gravity of his commission. For it is necessary for young Timothy to understand that his confession has made him accountable to the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Therefore, Timothy must discharge his responsibility with utmost seriousness knowing he is to give an account to Him on the day of judgment.
The virtues of Christ are like refined gold that can be acquired today and which remains in our possession forever.
What are considered as valuable before God (which are unseen) are considered as rubbish in the world. Likewise, what are considered as valuable in the world (which are seen) are considered as rubbish before God. As the world is ruled by the god of this world, he has blinded the minds of people, to keep them from seeing what is truly glorious: the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (see 2 Corinthians 4:4). The glory of Christ comprises the virtues He stands for: purity, mercy and the fear of God. The devil captivates the world by accentuating the power and glamour of those who vouches for him. And his agents are sent out to persecute those who stands for the truth and to deceive even more. Paul reveals the endgame of believers and encourages them to not lose heart,
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The outer self refers to man’s physical body, and the inner self represents his virtues and desires. Here, Paul describes for the true believer the progression of physical death (outer self is wasting away) towards to a glorious resurrection (eternal weight of glory). The inner self which is being renewed day by day takes on the likeness and glory of Christ and which becomes the seed of resurrection. Therefore, Paul, in view of the promised glory admonishes believers to single-mindedly acquire the virtues of Christ which is eternal while fleeing the glitter and glamour of this transient world. It is not possible to serve God while craving for material enjoyment. The desire to serve God and the love of money are two diametrically opposed values. Jesus says,
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Matthew 6:24.
Let the believer’s joy and contentment rest securely in God our Provider. God has throughout the ages commanded man to pursue His righteousness as the goal of life, and his physical sustenance will follow as a by-product of his faith. Thus, we do not have to serve money in order to get money. God promises his people in the Old Testament,
But you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst. There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. Exodus 23:25-26
Likewise, Jesus urges the people in the New Testament to…
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34.
We must be motivated by divine commission and not by personal agenda.
People serve for a variety of reasons. Many desiring to be seen as altruistic decorate their lives by filling their vacant hours with charitable works. Some desire to make something of themselves in order to justify a place in heaven. There are even those who love the limelight and the trappings that come along with it. Thus, it can be said that such are self-motivated; serving out of a personal agenda. Paul instructs that in whatever capacity and role believers are called to serve, we are commissioned by the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Parents are commissioned to raise up their children in righteousness. Managers are commissioned to run their company in all justice and fairness. Pastors and cell leaders are commissioned to shepherd the flock towards Christ-likeness. Ministry volunteers are commissioned to fulfil their responsibilities with fear and reverence. Paul charges Timothy in the presence of God to fulfil his commission as overseer of churches which he will give an account on the day of judgment. Commission-motivated service differs from self-motivated service in the following:
a. Commission-motivated service:
- Carries no personal agenda apart from God’s commission.
- Works by divine revelation not by human wisdom.
- Carries the role of steward/servant as opposed to master of the organisation.
- Endeavours to build a right foundation as his success is not measured by the present achievements but by the range of his legacy.
- He is subject to God and has no control over his tenure and scope of service.
- Works tirelessly out of reverence towards God and love for people.
b. Self-motivated service:
- Carries a personal agenda of self-actualisation; he is his own boss.
- Requires him to chart his own course and he accounts to no one.
- Plays the role of master over his organisation and he makes up his own rules.
- Measures success by what he has achieved in the present.
- He perceives to be in full control of his own destiny and that of his organisation.
- Works with the aim to fulfil his own desires and destiny.
Nevertheless, only the man who is motivated by divine commission is certain of eternal life of great gains and glory. On that day, the God of righteousness will judge every person according to the motives and intents of his heart.
Are you prone to acquire things that you do not really need? Many see a bigger car, a larger property and a job with higher pay and status as the “must have’s” of a blessed life. If your endgame is what you think it is: eternal life of great gains and glory, then you need to start living with that end in mind. Knowing what you do today will affect your destiny on the day of judgment. Therefore, you, man/woman of God, flee from these things (earthly pursuits), and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Start by determining how much financial resources you need for your monthly expenditure and savings. Instead, of using the excesses to acquire more material enjoyment, offer them to your church and to those in need.
Do you have a higher commission from God apart from your work and family? While most prefer to operate within the confines of their family and work, God is calling you to the commission of building His Kingdom. Pursue righteousness and justice in the work place and reach out to your social circles. At the same time, be involved in the disciple making and outreach programme of your church by giving your time and resources.
Dear Lord, I desire to understand more of your calling in my life. Prepare and equip me for that purpose for which I am born. Imbue me with the virtues of Christ through which I display the glory of Christ, the image of God to the world. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.