Having the Right Perspective Is Everything (Article 18-8)
One of Satan's greatest lies and deceptions is that in order to be happy (content), we must pursue a material-based life. He deceives us by tempting us to believe that the pursuit and accumulation of material wealth is path to true and lasting happiness; however, as Christians, God tells all of us that it is not the world and the things in it we must turn to be content. He tells us that becoming a godly person is what brings great gain – not in the material realm, as many of have grown to believe, but rather in a spiritual realm.
What Scripture Tells Us. Paul addresses this point in a letter to Timothy at Ephesus. In his letter, he points out that true and lasting contentment comes from being godly (1 Timothy 6:6-8). In these same verses, Paul appeals to our sense of logic by reminding us of a basic truth. That truth is that we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Paul ends this verse by reminding us that as long as we have food and clothing, we should be content. The underlining point that Paul makes is that as followers of and believers in Jesus Christ is that we should not live for the world. It has nothing meaningful to offer us. We should look toward and remain focused on the eternal, which requires us to live and conduct ourselves in a spiritual, not fleshly, realm of existence. Paul closes on his point by warning us that for those who desire and seek riches will fall into temptation and will be "snared" into many foolish and harmful lusts which can only lead to destruction and perdition (eternal punishment). Finally, he warns us that our love for money gives way to all kinds of evil things and causes us to stray from trusting (having faith in) our Lord. Our love of money leads to greed and that greed will bring many us many sorrows in life.
Our Call to Fight the Good Fight. We are called to stay away from pursuing worldly things and to stay focused on our faith in Christ and with this, “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness”. We are to fight the good fight of faith and embrace the path to eternal life (1 Timothy 11-12). The path that Paul speaks of is to abide in Christ for all things (John 15:1-8). Our call is to surrender ourselves to Christ, and trust that Christ will provide for us in all things. See, godly people have the inner peace of knowing that they are right with God, by listening to and following the One He Sent and that whether we live or die, we belong to Christ because He is truly the Lord of their lives.
We Must Choose. Paul presents two choices of masters: God or mammon (money). In verse 11, Paul tells us to do two things. First, we must “flee” the evils of the material world and “pursue” godliness. Fleeing and pursuing are opposites. We must pick a life of godly pursuit or pursue material gain. Those are the only options. We may not choose both. In Jesus’ words, “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13). He didn’t say, “You should not serve God and mammon,” but rather, “You cannot serve” them both. Many of us try to work out a compromise with God. We try to put a certain percent of effort to serve God and another percent of effort in pursuing the world (mammon). But Jesus knows our hearts, so He drew the line in the sand as if to say, Choose your lord! Will it be God or will it be mammon, in which case - you are not serving God. God makes it abundantly clear that any man who attempts to serve Him and the world will be unstable in all his ways. Christ calls us to have unyielding faith, and never doubt Him (James 1:6-8), for any man that has doubt will experience a life of turbulence, chaos and confusion, from which, gives rise to frustration, anger, anxiety and one's eventual destruction.
Is God Calling Us to Live a Life of Poverty? Let’s not be too quick to run away from Jesus’ demands to flee from the world and pursue Godliness. When Christ calls us to “flee” the evils of money and pursue Godly things, He is not telling us to take a vow of poverty. When you read on in 1 Timothy 6, (verses 17-19), we see that it is possible to be both good and rich. See, there is a big difference between the lifestyles of Christians, whose Master is God, and pagans, who are seeking contentment by living for the things of this world. If God is truly our Master, then we will find contentment by pleasing Him. It’s not bad to pursue wealth, as long as we remain the master of it (verses it not being our master) and its use it given for God’s glory. If we are true followers of Christ, we don’t use our money to benefit ourselves, nor do we use it to “pay God off” with our tithing and then feel free to squander the rest as we like. The truth is that God owns it all anyways. We’re just benefactors (not beneficiaries) of what He gives us. The basic question we must continuously ask ourselves in our short life journey is “Am I seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness, or am I seeking first the things of this world?” I believe that Jesus is clear in answering this question: A true and meaningful level of contentment comes from having the priority of godliness, not gain.
Happiness Is Achieved With an Eternal, Not Temporal Perspective. Verse 7 of 1 Timothy reminds us all that life is but a transitory journey. We were "willed" and put on the earth by God for His purpose and only for a very short period of time. No one has or will ever be able to alter this reality. Our life is temporary and it is futile to put our faith and hope in temporal things. It is foolish to think that if we can accumulate enough wealth or achieve enough things while here on earth, we will find happiness and contentment. As intelligent and gifted many are, the fact is there is not one "atom" of wealth or material things we can take with us when we pass to our next existence. All things in this world will perish, including us! We must live and stay focused on the eternal, not the temporal, and with this perspective, experience freedom from greed; freedom from anxiety; and, freedom from circumstances we continuously pursue to make us happy. While it would be irresponsible not to provide for our family's needs, it is foolish to trust in our provisions to make us happy or to greedily store them up for ourselves with no view of our stewardship to the rightful owner, namely, God. For the truth is that our anxiety over money is the tell-tale sign that our greed really is our lack of faith in the One He sent, which God strongly rebukes.
Be Godly and Not a Fool. Christ calls us to a life of contentment. Contentment comes from having the right priority - godliness, not gain; and the right perspective - the eternal, not the temporal. Only a fool believes that he can keep the things of this world and compromise with God regarding His promises of eternal life. We are called to order our life in line with our faith (trust in God) and hope (His fulfilling of His promises), and with it, the finding of true happiness: The kind of happiness we have sought all our lives.