If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-6)
[Friends of Morning Devotions: We will be suspending our study of 1 Timothy for the summer to study Mark in conjunction with Northside’s “Royal Subjects” sermon series. I hope you enjoy the Mark study. We will pick up where we left off with 1 Timothy in September]
What does it mean to have an “unhealthy interest”? There are a number of possibilities.
Some people have unhealthy interests in things that are not good for them. Others draw the people they care about into their interests, which creates an unhealthy environment for everyone.
But the “unhealthy interest” I think Paul is talking about is an ungodly focus on wealth. Realize, there is nothing necessarily wrong with wealth. Money and possessions can be used for our own self-absorption or for more visionary purposes. The “unhealthy” part of wealth in Timothy’s situation was the desire of greedy men to be so focused on getting rich they were willing to use the church as a vehicle.
The “unhealthy” part of today’s passage is spelled out in these words: “who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” Instead, Paul says the greatest gain is “godliness with contentment.”
In recent years the theology of a “prosperity gospel” has received a lot of attention. This is mostly due to celebrity preachers and teachers who propose the truth God wants His people to prosper financially on earth.
Again, there is nothing wrong with wealth. I am certainly of the belief we should work hard and use the talents God has given us to provide for our families and give to others. I am even convinced God blesses some people with enormous wealth so they can promote His causes. But with this said, I do not believe the Bible promises every believer who sacrifices for the sake of the kingdom worldly wealth. In fact, if I read the scripture correctly, the opposite is true.
We should be stewards of the things God has given us, which will help us maximize our wealth. But it is a sin to use the kingdom as a mechanism for personal wealth, and to live high on the backs of unsuspecting Christian brothers and sisters who think they are honoring God by making us rich.
This is “unhealthy.” It is unhealthy for our own souls, for the witness of the church, and for the progress of the kingdom. Instead, we should seek contentment with what God has given us, without using His people as a means to more.
Dear God, help me have a healthy view of wealth. In Jesus’ name, Amen.