I Timothy 6
1-2 | Slaves should respect their masters (employees and employers today)
3-10 | Expose bad doctrine; “love of money is a root of all sorts of evil”
11-16 | Flee from bad doctrine, Pursue Righteousness
17-19 | Instructions for those “rich in this present world”: be rich in good works too
20-21 | Closing exhortation: stay focused.
This chapter could really be divided into three sections with some closing remarks.
- 1-2 : instructions to Christians who were slaves
- 3-16 : instructions concerning good doctrine – orthodoxy
- 17-19: instructions concerning good works – orthopraxy
- 20-21 : closing remarks
The practice of slavery isn’t actively condoned or practiced by most governments (although there are individuals and groups that practice it for both lawful and unlawful reasons). However, the principle Paul outlines here is one that can still be applied to many relationships today, in particular the employer employee relationship. Paul addresses this more in Ephesians 6:5-9. Peter also addresses this in I Peter 2:13-25. If your interested you could also look at the laws regarding slaves in the Old Testament.
- Judaism 101 – see the section on Employees, Servants and Slaves
- Hebrew4Christians – offers New Testament references to many of the Old Testament laws
- GotQuestions.org – explains the differences in the Moral, Civil, and Ceremonial Old Testament laws
The bulk of the chapter centers on making sure that a pastor needs to stay focused on right doctrine and not “get lost” in meaningless debates, which typically leads to ungodly practices. Typically the people who do this are merely doing this because they could make themselves rich by holding debates and promoting themselves as teachers of some new philosophy. Paul urges Timothy to remain faithful to the doctrine he had received and to encourage those who were wealthy to be generous and do good works. The one verse that stands out in this chapter is verse 10.
1 Timothy 6:10 NASB For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Remember, Paul didn’t say that money was the “root of all sorts of evil” but the love of money. Some people have a knack for business and as a result are able to not only make a good life for themselves but also for their employees. Larry Burkett wrote a book a number of years ago called “Business by the Book” in which he laid out some good business practices that are practical for the individual as well. Jesus spoke more about money or wealth than he did almost every other subject.
Alistair Begg tells the story of a pastor who was asked by a couple to offer them some marital advice and to which he had a few requirements that they had to fulfill on the first visit, one of which was to bring their checkbook with them. When asked if he charged for his sessions, he replied no but that the checkbook would reveal where their heart is spiritually.
The balance of orthodoxy (right beliefs) and orthopraxy (right practice) is an important aspect of the Christian life. If all we have is head knowledge but don’t put it into practice, it doesn’t really mean anything. At the same time good works alone won’t save us, that is only accomplished by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. Both Paul and James speak to this idea of living a life filled with generosity and good works as a result of our faith.
Ephesians 2:8-10 NASB For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
James 1:21-25 NASB Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
James 2:14-20 NASB What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?
So Paul’s advice to Timothy still rings true today: work in a godly manner; stay focused on good doctrine; don’t get sucked into pointless debates; do good for others. If each person were able to do these, we would go along way toward honoring God in this life with a hope for the life to come.
Lord, You provide all we need and sometime even bless us beyond what we need in order for us to help others. Help us to keep financial matters in their proper perspective. May Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, in Jesus’ name. Amen.