Summary: Searching for the real meaning of life? St Paul describes how Christians life a life of purpose.
LIVING A LIFE THAT IS REAL 19th Sunday after Pentecost October 10, 2004
I Timothy 6:6-19 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this commandment without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they might take hold of life that is truly life.
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ;
People long for meaning in their life. No one wants to live a life that seems to have no value or purpose. In the final verse of the text, Paul says, "Take hold of life that is truly life." Or, as I would prefer to say it, "Take hold of a life that is real." So how do we live a life like that? What is real life all about?
Before Paul gives the answer to these questions, he makes it clear what kind of people are not living a life that is real. Paul talks about "People who want to get rich" and people who are filled with a "love of money." The root of these people’s problems is greed. They’ve become so obsessed with money, as Paul tells us earlier in the chapter, that they even viewed their Christianity as a means for financial gain. It is clear that they have completely lost perspective. Their lives are consumed by a desire for more wealth.
And this desire has lead them into all kinds of problems. Listen to the life that has resulted from money-love: "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction." Once greed got a hold of their life, they started down a slippery slope of sin after sin. Soon it was as though they were on sinking ship with no way to get off. And the ultimate destination of that ship was ruin and destruction. Paul also describes the life that results from greed as this: "Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." What worse description for a person’s life could there be? Not only have they wandered away from the faith and the joy that is found there, they have pierced their own hearts with many griefs. What a miserable life this describes! This isn’t a life that anyone would hope for. It certainly wasn’t the life that those people whom Paul is describing wished for. Paul does not write that they were eager for misery. He writes that they were eager for money. What they found was misery. Perhaps you are reminded of old Ebenezer Scrooge who lived his sad, miserable existence because his love of money had pushed all his friends and family out of his life.
But is Paul writing these words only for the Ebenezer Scrooges of the world? I doubt that any of us would put ourselves in that category. And maybe it’s true that none of us are hard-core lovers of money. It’s not as though any of us wake up in the morning and say, "I sure love money more than God." But who hasn’t thought to themselves: "If only I had a few thousand more dollars I could pay back debts, fill in the cracks and my life would be happier." But the truth is, we wouldn’t be satisfied even if we had those extra thousands of dollars. We’d find reasons that we need still more money. Maybe you are not a lover of money, but perhaps you have at least become pretty good friends with it. And this is a friendship that only grows deeper as we feed it with our own greed. Before we know it, we find ourselves on that same slippery slope that we heard about earlier. And the devil is there with his traps waiting for us. These traps can be seen as sacrifices. Not sacrifices that we want to make, but sacrifices that we make because of our friendship with money. Sacrifices such as sacrificing time with our family for the sake of wealth, or sacrificing the amount of money that could be put in the offering plate because we think it could be invested better elsewhere. Sometimes our friendship with money causes us to sacrifice our own happiness, because our joy is tied up in how well high or low the crop market is doing or whether or not we get a big enough raise in our paychecks.