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One of the intriguing features of 1 Timothy 6:3–19 is the way Paul’s argument cuts back and forth. There are four blocks. In the first (1 Tim. 6:3–5), Paul warns against those who teach false doctrines and describes the character of the false teachers with whom he is dealing. One of their motives is “financial gain” (1 Tim. 6:5): they are less interested in the gospel and in genuine godliness than in sporting an assumed “godliness” to rake in a good living. That introduces the second block (1 Tim. 6:6–10), which warns against the love of money. It is “a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). The proper Christian attitude should be committed contentment, for “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6); moreover, at the end of our lives we take out exactly what we brought in (1 Tim. 6:7). Focusing on the transient things of this life serves only to plunge people into “ruin and destruction” (1 Tim. 6:9). By contrast, Paul tells Timothy what sort of man he should be: that is the third block (1 Tim. 6:11–16). The apostle then moves to the fourth block (1 Tim. 6:17–19) and tells Timothy to command those who are rich how to conduct themselves. They are to repudiate arrogance, to put no confidence in wealth “which is so uncertain” (1 Tim. 6:17), but to put their confidence in God, “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Tim. 6:17). They must use their wealth to do good, to be generous, to share. In this way they will really be laying up treasure for themselves in heaven (1 Tim. 6:19), as the Lord Jesus taught us (Matt. 6:20). Thus Paul insists not on asceticism but on committed generosity as the best Christian response to greed.
So the four blocks deal with, respectively, false teachers and their conduct, the dangers of wealth, a true teacher and his conduct, and the dangers of wealth again. Thus the section that tells Timothy what kind of man he should be (1 Tim. 6:11–16) must be seen, in part, as an antidote to both false teaching and greed.
What is striking about this paragraph is what Paul places over against false doctrine and love of materialism. Paul tells Timothy, in effect, that a focus on eternal things will drive a far healthier Christian ambition. If Timothy is to flee from “all this” (1 Tim. 6:11)—from the crass materialism Paul has just condemned—he must set himself to pursue “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1 Tim. 6:11). While he maintains his “good confession”—as Christ maintained his—(1 Tim. 6:12–13), he is to take hold of “eternal life” and persevere until “the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 6:12, 14)—living and serving in the glory of God’s unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:14, 16).
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple” (Ps. 27:4). This glorious stance finds parallels elsewhere. Thus in Psalm 84:10–11 the psalmist declares, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”
This is not quite the same as saying that the psalmist wants to spend all his time in church. The temple was more than a church building, and synagogue buildings had not yet been invented. This was a way of saying that the psalmist wanted to spend all his time in the presence and blessing of the living God of the covenant, the God who supremely manifested himself in the city he had designated and the temple whose essential design he had stipulated. This necessarily included all the temple liturgy and rites, but it wasn’t a fine sense of religious aesthetics that drove the psalmist. It is nothing less than an overwhelming sense of the sheer beauty of the Lord.
But there are two further connections to be observed:
(1) The psalmist’s longing is expressed in terms of intentional choice: “this is what I seek” (27:4, italics added); “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” (84:10, italics added). The psalmist expresses his desire and his preference, and in both cases his focus is God himself. We will not really understand him unless, in God’s grace, we share that focus.
(2) The psalmist recognizes that there is in this stance abundant security for him. While it is good to worship God and delight in his presence simply because God is God, and he is good and glorious; yet at the same time it is also right to recognize that our own security is bound up with resting in this God. David wishes “to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple,” for “in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock” (27:4–5). “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God,” we read, for “the LORD God is a sun and shield” (84:10–11).
These 13 movies can illumine and edify, not just entertain.
Our elusive quest to find happiness in stuff never works. Never.
21:1 And the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them, No one shall make himself unclean for the dead among his people, 2 except for his closest relatives, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother, 3 or his virgin sister (who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may make himself unclean). 4 He shall not make himself unclean as a husband among his people and so profane himself. 5 They shall not make bald patches on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts on their body. 6 They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they offer the LORD's food offerings, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. 7 They shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled, neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband, for the priest is holy to his God. 8 You shall sanctify him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I, the LORD, who sanctify you, am holy. 9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.
10 “The priest who is chief among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose nor tear his clothes. 11 He shall not go in to any dead bodies nor make himself unclean, even for his father or for his mother. 12 He shall not go out of the sanctuary, lest he profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him: I am the LORD. 13 And he shall take a wife in her virginity.1 14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry. But he shall take as his wife a virgin2 of his own people, 15 that he may not profane his offspring among his people, for I am the LORD who sanctifies him.”
16 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God. 18 For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, 19 or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles. 21 No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the LORD's food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. 22 He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things, 23 but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries,3 for I am the LORD who sanctifies them.” 24 So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.
26:1 Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
2 Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.1
3 For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness.
4 I do not sit with men of falsehood,
nor do I consort with hypocrites.
5 I hate the assembly of evildoers,
and I will not sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence
and go around your altar, O LORD,
7 proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,
and telling all your wondrous deeds.
8 O LORD, I love the habitation of your house
and the place where your glory dwells.
9 Do not sweep my soul away with sinners,
nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
10 in whose hands are evil devices,
and whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
12 My foot stands on level ground;
in the great assembly I will bless the LORD.
27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold2 of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet3 I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire4 in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek5 my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, LORD, do I seek.”6
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look7 upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!
These 13 movies can illumine and edify, not just entertain.
Our elusive quest to find happiness in stuff never works. Never.
4:1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. 2 And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. 3 But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
4 Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity1 and a striving after wind.
5 The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.
6 Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
13 Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice. 14 For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. 15 I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with that2 youth who was to stand in the king's3 place. 16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
6:1 Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants1 regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.
Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound2 words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and3 we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into 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 evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before4 Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.
Grace be with you.5