Kids playing musical instruments is hilarious. First off, there is the excitement of the new adventure. This lasts as long as the time between receiving the instrument and the first time you ask them: Did you practice? Then comes the utter shock of the first rehearsal. You become a ball of nerves for the recital and the show is amazing. The Gospel is much like playing an instrument.
As we read 1 Timothy 6:13-16, Paul rehashes the story of the Gospel. As he instructed Timothy to pursue certain things, he demonstrates how this looked in the action of Jesus. There is a fundamental need to state the obvious and reshape the Gospel as we grow in our faith. This is not an insult to intelligence, but a core feature to mimicking the actions and life of Jesus.
As the Gospel was practiced with Timothy, there was no doubt the rehearsal to the church Timothy was in charge of. Often the letters written by Apostles were read allowed in a gathering. While we practice our part, rehearsal helps us to see how the whole team works together to accomplish the mission.
Paul makes clear that Jesus will be back. And the event will be absolutely amazing. Paul in another letter describes how every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the father. Meaning? While life is hard and not fair currently, there is a moment, the concert moment if your will, where things all make sense and we fully realize who Jesus is and the impact of the Gospel.
Read 1 Kings 19 and we see an epic tale of a tired servant. Life often does not go according to plan and when we win in one area, another challenge comes up and hits back hard. So what do we do? In 1 Timothy 6 Paul tells us to pursue gentleness and then fight the good fight. Weird words put together. How does gentleness work?
A mentor once said: It's ok to have a pity party, but set an end date. There are times we need to rest. This is what God did for Elijah. God didn't beat him, scold him, etc. God listened, let him sleep, gave him food. Gentleness restores and recognizes sometime people need to be refreshed first.
The next element is pointing to peace. Often we want to destroy our opponent. To crush them. God has Elijah waiting and tells him that he'll show up. A severe wind, an earthquake, and a firestorm went by, but God was not in there. Then a gentle whisper goes by and there God was. Often we want calamity to the one causing a challenge. God reminds us that what we need is peace. Gentleness calms and points people to peace. This doesn't ignore the challenges, but points out a better way through them.
When life is hard and not fair we can become very selfish and stuck. After refreshing Elijah and pointing to peace, God sends Elijah back to work. Specifically for him, he was to mentor a new kid on the block called Elisha. When were are tired or hurting, sometimes the best medicine is to get doing something that is beyond our self. We need to serve and build others up.
My ability at gardening is questionable at best. My wife made it quite clear that when weeding we must get at the roots or nothing is really getting done. Often times we deal with symptoms of a problem rather than the root causes. Paul gives us a warning in 1 Timothy 6:10. The love of money is a dangerous root that must be yanked.
Think choices not objects
Money is not evil. It is incredibly useful with proper stewardship. The love of money is a root that can lead to many evils. Often we blame external things, like money, for our own internal problems, like the love of money. Technology is an external that gets blamed for internal choices that are being made. The Bible is not anti-money or anti-rich, but it does give warnings. The issue is if money is our love, our own personal comfort, we are likely not to choose things that God may call us too.
Hard and not fair
Life is hard and not fair. Our temptation is to go the easy route or fight for our own comfort. The Christian life often requires seasons of sacrifice. It often call us to do the hard task of peacemaking, which is messy. Persecution or defamation may also occur. If money and comfort is your love and highest goal, it will cause you to shipwreck your faith.
Enjoy God's blessings
Again, the issue is the love of money and not money itself. It is good to enjoy life. Ecclesiastes says to eat, drink and enjoy the fruit of your labor for this too is a gift from God. Blessing loved ones and taking time to enjoy life is not a sin. The warning is against our wealth or comfort becoming an idol we pursue over and above God. So weed out the root of the love of money, and enjoy and blessings from God.
Whe we read 1 Timothy 6:3-5 we see a person who loves to argue. The description is very much like cable news, despite which political viewpoint you may hold. In pursuing God some mistake being right as the win. In a real sense truth does not need a defender as truth will come out and win in the end.
Be a peacemaker
Reconciliation is a key aspect of the Gospel. Be a person who brings grace, mercy, and love to a situation. You can be right, but if it destroys a relationship you may be very well in the wrong. Love is not in opposition to truth nor truth against love. Both can be true. We see that in Jesus. Jesus spoke truth and was loving. Messed up people loved being around him. And he pointed out their sin. Jesus fought to have a relationship with people far from God.
We love to win
Let's be honest, we love to win fights. I'd venture to say that even those who don't like quarrels still love to be right. Paul warns us of the wake fighting to be right may brings. Look behind you, are you building people up or tearing them down? Again, being a peacemaker does not mean sacrificing truth. Being a peacemaking does mean we fight or the relationship as strongly as we fight for the truth.
Think journey not destination
While this may be over simplifying it, I define discipleship as helping a person take the next step to being more like Jesus. The win for me is not getting a person from A to Z, but getting them from J to K. or M to N. The space between who a person is to being completely like Jesus is VERY messy. This involves much patience, endurance, long suffering, and other things that look a lot like 1 Corinthians 13 love.
Be a difference maker
History is made by those who show up. Be a person who is present. Be a person who is there. Enjoy the messiness of discipleship and the thrill of helping people take that next step. We can fight to be right and make a point, but that is a losing battle. But being a peacemaker? That carries a wake of godliness that cannot be matched by anyone. Relationships are the glue of truth.
Forgive the long break on daily devotions. Illness and some trials set back time to write. I suppose this would be a good time to talk about relationship aspect of the Christian religion vs mere exercise of duties. Duty is the fruit of ownership, not the fulfillment of obligation. We know this because many will shirk their duty because they have not bought in. Others will feel terribly guilty about shirking their duties because they have bought in. In both there is a slight problem.
What are you pursuing?
As we read 1 Timothy 6:3-10 we see two pursuits. The first pursuit is selfishness. The second pursuit is godliness. Often times people feel guilty when they shirk their duties because of selfishness. You may think, but wait, shouldn't we fulfill our biblical duties? How can that be selfish? Legalism is the process of obtaining godliness through rigid adherence to various works and rules. You are working to be loved. The person who has not bought in feels guilty because he sees what ought to be done, but didn't bother. You can be selfish in pursuing godliness as much as not pursuing it.
The key according to these verses is contentment. Godliness with contentment is of great gain. In a real sense Paul is describing a person who is emotionally secure with their relationship with God. Intentional pursuit does not have to negate contentment. If contentment is lacking, then we really need to ask ourselves what it is that we are pursuing. Relationships are messy. Spirituality, which is another another relationship, is also messy. So how can we be content?
God's not done
A question I often get is how do I know when it will be a great sermon. The answer is simply I don't. I can be at my best and it fall flat and I can be at my worst and it be used in incredible ways. Then there is everything in between. The same is true for dates. The most amazing dates can feel flat and some of the most dull dates be utterly amazing. Here is the key: in both I am with someone I deeply love. That is the win. I am doing what I can with the ones I love. And whether succeed of fail I'm with them. That's the win.
Go for it
Paul warns against the love of money. Pursuing our own comfort and selfishness can be damaging to those we love and our neighbors. If we are truly pursuing godliness with contentment, there is a ton we can put up with. Why? We can take a lot if we do it with ones we love. There are seasons, like struggling with sickness, when we can't do all the things we want. But the trick is that doesn't mean God bails on us. He's still there. Remember that relationships are messy things, and the win is being able to go about them with the person you love. So, don't feel guilty if you have a spell where you can't be doing devotions. But don't put it off too long. Take time to be with the God who wants to spend time with you. Does not have to be perfect. Being together is the win.