Following Jesus: Real Living

Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that[a] we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made[b] the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.  (I Timothy 6:6-19 NRSV)

What do you think of when you think of money?

Perhaps you appreciate its ability to provide your basic needs: food, clothing, shelter, health care.  It can be used to bring joy: travel, decorations for your home, a nice car.  Many people find joy in giving some of it away to those in need: organizations that fight disease, those who feed, cloth or shelter the poor.

What do you think of when you think of money in the church?

Filthy lucre?  A topic to be ignored and avoided?  Does the Church speak too much about money or not enough?  Does it teach enough about money?

Tradition has it that the offering plates are not to be placed on the Communion Table (or Altar) if Communion is to be served.  The idea is that Communion is holy.  It takes no stretch of the imagination to decide that if money can’t sit side-by-side with the cup and the bread, it must be unholy.

Money isn’t evil.  The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  There’s a big difference.  Love of money.  Love of anything other than God is a root of all kinds of evil.

The author has warned Timothy about the infighting in the Ephesian Church.  There are arguments over “Truth.”  Some believe they have the “real” truth and appear to be selling it for gain.  There appears to be a first century form of Prosperity Gospel being taught: if you live right God wants you to be rich.

The risk in any form of idolatry, which is love of anything else over God, is to become snarled in greed.  Life turns destructive.  No one else matters.

The love of money can begin with selling drugs to support the family.  This leads to living on the edges of society, always watching their back.  Greater and greater security is needed.  Sell more drugs in order to pay for guns and thugs to protect them.  Money buys nice things, so they enhance their marketing scheme and soon children are selling drugs to make the king pin more wealthy and more powerful.

That’s not living.  That’s existing.

Human trafficking.  Greed gone way out of control.

That’s not living.  That’s barely existing.  For everyone involved.

Money is the root of all kinds of evil.

Big Pharma and the opioid epidemic.

Business and politicians and nations get wrapped up in protecting themselves and turn to lies and innuendo all because of the love of money.

God has more in mind than merely existing.

We need money to buy bread and clothing and to pay for our home.  God intends for us to enjoy what wealth we have.  The problem is when we allow money to use us.

How does money use us?

It scares people.  They fear that it’ll run out of it.  They refuse to give it away to those who are “unworthy.”  They turn to building up investment accounts.  They’re so wrapped up in it that they are plunged into the need get more of it.

They chase their tails and wonder why they’re unhappy.

The author of this letter to Timothy helps us find a better way.  He tells us how to “take hold of the life that really is life.” (verse 19b)

Live simply.  We came into this world with nothing.  We can’t take anything with us.  A friend of mine is fond of saying, “I’ve never seen a hearse pulling U-Haul Truck!”

When we’re really living, we’re living simply.  We’re living in gratitude to God for all God has provided. That changes our attitude.

Real living keeps us close to God and God keeps us in real life.  We are our authentic selves living eternal lives in the now.  Real living acknowledges that by God life was given, by God life is being given and by God life will be given.  An ongoing outpouring of life that has substance and meaning based on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ.

Timothy is warned that he has a fight ahead of him.  He will have to “contest the good contest.”  Pursue the good things of life: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.  Flee from such things as envy, dissension, slander, wrangling.  It’s a daily battle when you’re active in the world.

The reward is life.  Real, authentic, meaningful life.  Life that engages your body, mind, spirit and heart.  Life that brings a deep joy and satisfaction even when the world crumbles around you.

The Good News is that everything created by God is good. Our talents and skills and material possession, to name a few.  We resist the Good News when we allow money to scare us.  When that happens we flee from it in our conversations and discussions.  This opens the door to a wrong focus on money and possessions.  We end up fearing money itself rather than acknowledging the love of money as a root of all kinds of evil.

Christ provides us with a healthy view on money: Focus on God and all other things take their place.  Use your wealth wisely and with great gratitude.  Look at what you have, not what you don’t have.

How we live is a choice.  We can choose God or mamman.

Disciples of Jesus choose God.

All glory and honor be to God.

Amen.


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