THE CONTENTMENT CHALLENGE
1 Timothy 6:3-21
September 4, 2005
“Gone Nutty” – Intro. from the movie, Ice Age
Have you ever been like that about something before? Something you so much desire to attain or keep that nothing, not even a catastrophe (or the onset of the Ice Age) will deter you? What kinds of things, ideas or goals do you pursue like that? Unfortunately, sometimes our desire to attain or keep – even things or during times that are dangerous - is so great that we ignore the obstacles and warning signs and just keep on pursuing, don’t we? But when we do that we will ultimately, even after successfully attaining it, get squished just like the prehistoric squirrel!
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful about all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
How well do you know your heart? To what depths have you plunged in honesty and understanding? I don’t know about you, but I’m still learning about myself and my heart.
I once thought that I knew it very well, but then life stripped away much (unfortunately not all) of my ignorance and arrogance. I’ve come to find that my heart is full of surprises – some good and some . . . not so good. You see, I have learned that it is often only in testing and challenge that we can see or know certain areas of my heart. And, because I am still encountering new experiences and challenges in my life, I continue to discover things about my heart. Sometimes it is joyous. Sometimes it is very painful and humbling. But I praise God for all those times and opportunities.
It is only by knowing the true condition of my heart that I can be intentional and effective in aligning it with God’s heart!
I.)The Heart-Shaped Fulcrum (v. 3)
A.Correct Understanding of Scripture
+ To assess the condition of our heart, we must first discover what a full and healthy
heart is supposed to look like.
+ This model is “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords
with godliness.” That is, the Scriptures.
+ The first key to understanding our own hearts is to have a correct understanding of
+ Correct understanding of Scripture is the fulcrum on which our lives and godliness
+ Paul, in this verse, is comparing the false teachers and their teachings as being “sick”,
whereas correct understanding of Scripture is “wholesome.”
+ False teachers tend to be more interested in promoting theory and debate then in
putting the truth into practice! They have a sick desire to expend themselves arguing
over words rather than applying the words of Scripture to their own lives and helping
others to do the same!
Application of Scripture: Fruit of Godliness
+ When we do apply the clear words of Scripture to our lives, this diet will inevitably
produce the fruit of godliness in our lives!
II.)The Character of Failure (vv. 4-5)
+ Notice carefully the flawed character traits and the failures which they represent.
+ As always, it begins with pride. Beginning that you are better, more special, smarter,
deserve more, and/or are entitled. Therefore, the rules apply differently to you than others.
+ The reality, Scripture here says, is that the proud “know nothing”!
+ Nevertheless, a prideful heart inevitably leads to a laundry list of disease. Beginning with
an obsession with disputes and arguments over words.
+ I can attest to this, I spent countless hours in college instigating and partaking of such
arguments. And in hindsight, they were meaningless, empty, and driven by pride. If I am
not careful, my flesh will still drag me into such.
+ The greater problem is that the results of such are just increasing “envy, strife,
reviling, evil suspicions (and) useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds.”
+ But, it doesn’t stop there. The ultimate result is becoming one who is “destitute of the
truth, who supposes that godliness is a means of gain.”
+ The proud leader stirs division and pursues personal gain.
+ Ever since I first came to Brookdale, people have been asking what is that great “sin” or
disease that has seemed to keep holding us back and creating so many problems for so
many years now? Clearly, it is a heart problem. Not in every individual, perhaps. But
certainly in enough, and too many in positions of official or unofficial leadership and
influence. And it’s not just this person or not. It has been a problem that has apparently
been going on for some time. The names and faces have changed, but there have always
been others to take their place. It is a problem of the heart, and it can no longer be
+ We must go to the Great Physician Jesus Christ, we must all get our hearts checked, we
must all keep close tabs on the health of our own hearts, and we must all be willing to
properly diagnose and appropriately operate on any disease in this Body of Christ!
+ So what are we to do? How are we to respond to others, especially teachers and leaders,
who obviously have a heart problem? “From such withdraw yourself.” Here it is again!
III.)The Keys To Character: Godliness & Contentment
+ Finally, let’s get away from the negative for a moment and concentrate on the make-up of a
healthy and godly heart!
+ It’s actually a very simple concept to learn and remember, but a much harder one to live:
godliness + contentment = great gain!
+ Godliness without contentment = a joyless, legalistic righteousness and life.
+ Contentment without godliness = a person sadly disconnected from God’s truth and power.
A wasted life without an eternal imprint, settling for so much less than God wants to offer.
+ Both are necessary for personal, spiritual and eternal prosperity/gain!
+ So what is a life with godliness and contentment? It is a life that (1) understands the deep
truths of Scripture about God’s nature, our purpose in life, and His faithfulness. And (2) it
is a life that fully understands that “things” and life as we know it have a passing, temporal
nature. The things of this world are temporary. They will not last nor enter eternity with
us. So, too, is their purpose and ability to satisfy or fulfill. Neither godliness nor
sustained contentment can ever truly be found in any of the things of this world.
+ The Thomas Nelson Study Bible puts it this way:
Things beyond God’s provision of our basic needs (“food and clothing”, 6:8) can be enjoyed without becoming a necessity. Paul understood that if godliness (our desire to see God’s character reproduced in us) and contentment (our acceptance of God’s will in our lives) depend on our environment or circumstances, both will always be unstable.
+ We need to focus on contentment on God – who He is, His faithfulness and goodness, His
provision, His salvation and sanctification (process of producing godliness in our lives) and
realize that whatever else we may have or lack – that is abundantly more than enough!
There is most be great truth in our hearts when we sing aloud to the Lord, “You are my all
+ Philippians 4:11-13
IV.)The Price of Discontent (vv. 9-10)
In confronting false teachers, Paul says that they once knew the truth, but they’ve been robbed of it. Their views and their values changed. They no longer recognized true godliness. An inner lack of genuine godliness and contentment inevitably led to a search for something else – a search that turns to greed. Rushing forward in blind pursuit of “things” to fill this void, they embrace temptation and become trapped in its snares. In this, they “drown” – literally, dragged to the bottom – in this case pulled down by the weight not of concrete boots but of their material desires. The result can only be “destruction and perdition,” that is irretrievable ruin and loss. .
I think the same thing has happened in our culture. We have by and large adopted the values of consumerism. We must reject the values of consumerism.
All that we have, all that God gives to us – health, ability, opportunity, finances, influence, power - is to be used for His glory! Money, sex, fame and power are all tempting allurements. The pursuit of them puts a price on our soul. Just what does love for money do?
Illus.: There was a man who asked a woman if she would sleep with him for a million dollars. She looked at him and said, “Are you serious?” He said, “Absolutely.” So she looked around and said, “Sure.” Then he asked, “Would you sleep with me for five dollars?” She stared at him and shouted, “What do you think I am!” He answered, “I know what you are, I just want to know what your price is.”
Satan comes to the Christian, and offers what looks like a huge price for you to compromise your faith. What is the price in your heart? For what?
Note that the problem is not money itself, but the love of money. And this love can and most often will drive us to all sorts of other evil!
What are the danger signs of loving money? John MacArthur in his commentary identifies five danger signs of loving money.
(1) Those who love money are more concerned with making it than being honest. (2) Those who love money never have enough of it. (3) Those who love money tend to flaunt it. (4) Those who love money resent giving any away. (5) Those who love money often sin to get it.
V.)The Challenge to Fight (vv. 11-16)
Flee, Follow, Fight, Fasten Onto!
+ If we truly desire godliness and contentment, we will FLEE from such thoughts,
teaching and temptation.
+ Materialism is nothing to ignore, minimize or mess with. FLEE at the first sign!
+ Hunt for these things, chase them done and never stop until you have caught them
+ So often we fight so hard to hold on to our old habits, desires and sins. Will we fight
even harder for our faith and eternity? With all of our being? Isn’t it worth it?!
Fasten Onto (“lay hold of)!
+ Don’t ever let go of the abundant life and rewards in eternity that the Lord so freely
and generously offers – certainly not for the passing fancies of this world!
+ How? By holding on to Jesus and His Word like our life depends on it – because it
does, not just our life but our eternity!
VI.)Warning To The Contented (vv. 17-19)
Now, with ALL of this said, let us not overlook the fact that there are some among us who have abundant riches and do feel quite content with what they have. What of the contented rich?
+ Be warned, says the Word, not to let your riches or contentment lead to pride, self-assured
sufficiency, or complacency. Be warned, also, not to be fooled into thinking that material riches
are all there is. Seek, yet, godly, spiritual riches!
+ Recognize that God (not your ability, hard work, intelligence, or upbringing – all of which are
given by God) is the source of all your wealth. Be generous then, with what He has given you.
The material blessings of God are not for your enjoyment alone, but are to be used for His glory
and the advancement of His Kingdom as well!
VII.)Worth Repeating (vv. 20-21)
1.On a scale of 1 to 10, how content are you really?
2.Why or why not?
3.What fears or desires most threaten your contentment?
4.How can you find fulfillment in Christ & His Word instead?
5.How hard will you fight for your faith and godliness?