“Living For Maximum Gain”
CLBC September 10, 2006 a.m.
Theme: The Supreme Value of Godliness
Passage: 1 Timothy 6: 1 - 10
How are your investments doing? If you are fortunate enough to have some investments, it is likely that you also have a financial advisor whose job is supposed to be making sure that you secure the maximum gain possible. One cannot watch the media without being aware that maximum gain is one of the chief goals of human beings. Why else would they report every day on the rise and fall of the stock market, the rise and fall of the dollar, the rise and fall of precious metals. You can’t watch the lineups at every lottery ticket counter without also being aware that foremost in the minds of many is the idea of making maximum gain, the faster and the easier, the better.
Well, believe it or not the Bible is also interested in securing for you the maximum gain and this morning I want to show how you can achieve that result.
The apostle Paul starts the passage in a most unlikely way. He talks about
1. Maximum Gain for those in the Workforce:
The passage is about slaves and their masters. Now what could a slave do to achieve any form of gain. The very idea of slavery was that of one human being belonging to another human being. There was usually no choice about it. They may have been slaves as a result of being captured, or being conquered or being sold into slavery to cover the debt of the family.
But in the days of the apostle Paul, and the spread of the gospel, many slaves heard about a freedom which had been purchased for them by the Son of God dying as a full payment for all which bound them, especially the bondage of sin. As a result many slaves had become Christians.
As Christians, these slaves became a part of the Church which is the Body of Christ.
Some slave owners had become Christians, and these also were part of the church, and the teaching of 1 Timothy 6: 1, 2 is not talking about slaves in general, but it is giving instruction to slaves who belonged to the Lord Jesus Christ. Though they were still under the yoke of slavery, they are instructed to consider their masters worthy of all honour, whether those master were Christians or unbelievers.
Why should they honour unsaved masters? It was because they belonged to a greater Master than those who owned them and it was important that as Christians they recognize that their Master Jesus Christ had allowed them to be in that position. He who had commanded that younger people honour older people, that widows be treated with special honour, that elders or Pastors be counted worthy of double honour, now also required that slaves honour those who were their masters, in word and deed, in action and obedience, so that the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed.
In verse 2 we see instruction to those who were fortunate enough to belong to Christian masters. Now even though the apostle Paul had written in Galatians 3: 27 and 28: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” they had to realize that while faith in Christ changed forever their standing before God, it did not change their status or relationships to those who still held their lives in their hands.
1Timothy 6:2 “And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.”
As unlikely as it may sound, the way for slaves to achieve maximum gain in happiness and joy is by serving their masters as a way of serving their Lord Jesus.
Now, of course the question is, what has that have to do with us in Canada, in the year 2006. The application is that we substitute the term employee and employer, for the terms slave and master. A Christian employee must look upon his employment as the gift of God, and his service to be a way of serving the Lord Jesus. He should be the best employee possible so that the name of God may not be blasphemed because of shoddy, careless work or because of laziness. Some Christians can talk rich cream while their actions are skim milk. People see it, but most important, God sees it.
While every employee deserves a decent wage for the work performed, his real reward is not just the paycheck received. It is the satisfaction of pleasing his Saviour, and his ultimate reward is found at last in his Saviour’s presence.
When the Christian employee has the good fortune to work for a Christian employer, how that should add to the joy of willing service.
Although the passage does not address itself to the master or to the employer, it surely should be obvious that the Christian employer should also live at a higher level than unsaved bosses. There should be no question of treating the employees fairly, with respect, with adequate wages, and in a way that honours the God whom we profess to serve
And so we are commanded to preach and teach.
2. The way to miss out on maximum gain
Now as we come to verses 3 - 5, we deal with those who go to church from a wrong motivation. There are people who suppose that “godliness is a means of gain.” Or as The Message says, they think that religion “is a way to make a fast buck.”
Paul deals with this kind of “Christian” in a pretty short and sharp way. Verse 3 “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, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”
Or as some other translations say “tag them for what they are: ignorant windbags, who infect the air with the germs of envy, controversy, bad mouthing, suspicious rumours.”
“He is a conceited idiot! His mind is a morbid jumble of disputation and argument, things which lead to nothing but jealousy. Quarrelling, insults, and malicious innuendos and continuous wrangling.
And Paul tells Timothy and every Christian Church, “From such withdraw yourself.” Now this charge to withdraw yourself from those who are using Christianity for their own selfish purposes, includes preachers and churches which do not teach the truth of God’s Word. They can be found in many places. Not every person who names the name of Jesus is a true Christian. Not every preacher in every church is a reliable guide to the truth. Not every television evangelist or preacher is worthy to be followed. There are wolves in sheep’s clothing in the pulpit and in the pew. There is no maximum gain for such - only condemnation at the end.
But that doesn’t alter the fact that there is a tremendous blessing to be found in the Christian faith and in churches which teach and preach the gospel.
3. The way to achieve maximum gain:
1Timothy 6:6 “ Now godliness with contentment is great gain”.
Oh, dear ones, here is the way to maximum gain. It begins with godliness, and with your walk with Jesus Christ in simple faith and obedience. There is no substitute for a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing else will ever satisfy your deepest needs. If you have not yet surrendered your life into His hands, dear one, you are missing out on the very best in life.
Now Paul adds in another word. Contentment!
Contentment is a mind contented with its lot. This is what Paul said of himself in Philippians 4:11 “ Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Here is the combination which contributes to the best possible life. Here is the way to avoid worry and fretting and stewing and plotting and planning.
First, let us have our eye fixed on Jesus rather than our circumstances, then the surrender of those circumstances into His loving care with the trust that He can change those circumstances if it pleases Him to do so.
Paul gives reasons why we should be content, whatever our lot, whatever our bank account, whatever our acquisitions or lack of them.
The first reason: 7 “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. There is no way to hold on to our acquisitions.
You heard about the rich man who was determined that he was going to take his wealth with him. He commissioned someone he trusted with the task of emptying his bank accounts, and putting all his money into the coffin with him.
Well the day came when he died, and it was time to carry out his wishes. Others had heard about this strange request and wondered what his friend had done about it. Could it be possible that the man’s wealth could go into the grave with him? “Did you carry our his wishes?” they asked? “Yep, I sure did! I just wrote out cheques for every dollar he had and just before they closed the lid of the coffin I threw those cheques right in there with him!”
The second reason why we should be content is because of God’s care.
8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
If we were in many lands, we would indeed count it the greatest blessing to have food and clothing. But we live in the western world, and we have been trained from day one that we are to prepare for our retirement. People worry about whether or not they have enough RRSP’s or RIF’s to carry them through. Besides we want a little extra to do things with. How can we be content with just sufficient for daily living?
Now, for most Christians, that desire for the something extra is not a wrong motivation as we shall see in a moment.
But for some the desire for something more can be a stumbling block to their Christian faith. Here is a warning from the Word of God that every Christian must take very seriously.
9 “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Pay close attention to what is the root of all evil. It is not money.
Many Christians have been allowed more than enough for their daily needs. Some Christians have been allowed to amass wealth, without harm to their walk with the Lord.
But for other such is not the case. For those who desire to be rich, whether Christian or non-Christian, wealth in all its forms is a trap. If one is greedy for money or things, it is absolutely true that no matter how much is gained it will never be enough. When that happens in a professing Christian’s life it leads to
“ many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and” perdition” and to “straying from the faith in their greediness, and piercing themselves through with many sorrows.”
Be careful dear Christian friend. There is danger here.
But on the other hand what a blessing God’s abundant provision can be when our love for the Lord supercedes everything else.
4. Now let’s put it all together. Look over at 6:17 to 19:
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
Here is the answer, dear one. Don’t become haughty or proud. What do you have that the Lord has not given to you? And if you are tempted to say, I earned that by my own efforts, then who gave you the ability, and the health, and the strength to gain it?
“Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
Her is God’s answer of what He expects from every person to whom He has entrusted His goods. “Do good!” “Be rich in good works!” “Be ready to give with a ready heart.” “Be willing to share!”
For these are the ways God has given to you to “store up for yourselves a good foundation for the time to come,”. In this he is not talking about having sufficient for your retirement. He is talking about a much greater time to come than these few short years. This is exactly what Jesus was talking about when He said we should, “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”. Here he concludes “that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
Jesus clearly taught that “beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." Lu 12:15
Now do you understand? Do you want to live your life in a way that will secure maximum gain? This is it. First, make sure of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Whatever your circumstances, whether blessed with little or with much, learn how to be contented with what God has provided.
If God chooses to bless you with more than your daily needs, then use that which He has given you not for selfish purposes, but to do good where you can. Lay up treasures in heaven. Send your deposit on ahead to be deposited in the bank of heaven. Recognize your role as a steward of all you possess. Be sure to set aside the tithes and offerings which recognize His provision for your daily need. Use your material possessions as a way of bringing blessings to others.
Here is the way for every one of us to live for maximum gain. This is not a selfish act. This is the way to please the Lord. This is the way to secure the maximum gain, not only for this life but for all eternity!