The Goal of Godliness.
1 Timothy 6:11-21
But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. – 1 Timothy 6:11 NLT
As Paul wraps up his letter to Timothy, he gives him one last charge. He calls him to live differently and to see he life as distinctive and set apart from all those around him, including those who are crave money and have wandered from the faith. Unlike the false teachers for whom godliness was merely a way to become wealthy, Timothy was to run from that kind of attitude and make true godliness his sole goal, along with ever-increasing faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Paul tells him to “pursue” godliness – which in the Greek meant “to run swiftly in order to catch” or of one “who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal.” Money, materialism, popularity, power, pleasure, significance, comfort – none of these things were to be the focus of Timothy’s life. And while Paul is addressing this last section of his letter to Timothy, it is really a call to all believers of every age. Paul had made it clear to Timothy that he was to “Teach these things … and encourage everyone to obey them. Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life” (1 Timothy 6:2-3 NLT). Everything Paul had shared in his letter was intended to be practiced and promoted among the people of God. As a leader, Timothy was to be an example of godly living to all those under his care. Paul had told Timothy, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 NLT).
As believers, our lives are always on display, and others are watching. Our behavior and conduct is constantly being witnessed by God Himself, our fellow believers and the lost. Paul wanted Timothy to live his life well and consistently. He told him to “fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you” (1 Timothy 6:12 NLT). For Paul, perseverance and consistency of faith was essential. He wanted Timothy to finish well. He wanted him to keep his eyes on the goal, which was the return of Christ. The reality of that event was to never be far from Timothy’s heart and mind, so that he would live his life in such a way that no one could find fault with his character or conduct. There would certainly be those who disliked and disparaged his life because he lived it for God, just as Paul had experienced. Suffering for the sake of Christ was always acceptable and expected. But Paul didn’t want Timothy to do anything that would harm his reputation as a believer or bring dishonor to God.
Paul gives Timothy one last message concerning those who are rich in the things of this world. He doesn’t condemn them, but simply warns them that they are not to put their trust in their money, because it is unreliable. It makes a lousy god. Instead, they were to put their trust in God, who is the ultimate provider of all that we need. Those who had been blessed with money were to see it as a God-provided resource to be used for the care of others and the cause of the Kingdom of God. They were to be “rich” in good works and generous to those in need. God called them while they wealthy, so God must have had a purpose for placing them in the body of Christ in that condition. By focusing their attention on obedience to God and service to others, they would learn that their wealth was just a tool in the hands of God, not a treasure to be horded and held onto.
Some of Paul’s last words to Timothy were, “guard what God has entrusted to you” (1 Timothy 6:20 NLT). He was to see his own salvation and the news of salvation through Jesus Christ as invaluable and worthy of his constant protection. Leadership in the body of Christ is a dangerous calling and it comes with great responsibilities. Timothy had been entrusted with the message of the Gospel and the care of the flock of Jesus Christ. He had an obligation to put the needs of the congregation ahead of his own. And yet, he was also to guard himself – watching over his character and conduct constantly. The same message applied to Timothy that Paul shared with the elders from Ephesus: “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock – his church, purchased with his own blood – over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders” (Acts 20:28 NLT). The goal for all spiritual leaders should be godliness – not only for themselves, but for all those under their care. But godliness without God’s grace is impossible. This journey of faith to which we have been called is only possible through an ever-increasing dependence upon God. We need His Word to teach and guide us. We need His Spirit to empower us. We need His grace and mercy to miraculously meet us where we are along the way and constantly remind us that godliness is our one and only calling.
Father, make us godly. Continue to mold and make us into the likeness of Your Son. Keep us focused on the one and only goal that we should all have – our godliness. Don’t let us get distracted by the things of this world. Prevent us from loving the world more than we love You. May our godliness as individuals and as members of the body of Christ be what drives and motivates us all the days of our lives – until You call us home or send Your Son to come and get us. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men