“Train yourself to be godly. Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1Timothy 4:7-8
To train ourselves to be godly is to reorder our lives in a way that makes living close to God our highest priority. Asaph said, “the nearness of God is my good.” (Psalm 73:28) In what way is godliness good for us?
First, Paul says it’s valuable in this present life. Later in his letter he gives a qualifier: “Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out.” (6:6-7) The more we pursue godliness with contentment the more we live defined by God and the more all other definitions fade away. We are not our financial net worth, or what other people think we are, or even how we define ourselves – we are God’s masterpiece! (Ephesians 2:10) Only the godly grow away from the traps of this world into their true identity. Letting the One who loved us and gave Himself up for us (Galatians 2:20) be the One who defines us is tremendously liberating. His perfect love drives out fear and insecurity (1John 4:18), so that we can simply be ourselves filled with His Holy Spirit.
Then Paul says godliness has value for the life to come. Asaph says that those who live “far from You will perish; You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to You.” (Psalm 73:27) The ungodly will “perish like beasts” (2Peter 2:12) and “be consumed” eventually in the eternal fire (Hebrews 10:27), but the godly will share eternal life with God. This is the simple gospel: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Godliness begins by forsaking our own works and by putting our trust in Jesus Christ because salvation is God’s gift to us. “Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness (right standing with God!).” (Romans 4:4-5)
“Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb; and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.” Ecclesiastes 5:15
If you play Monopoly by the real rules a game should take about an hour. During that brief period Monopoly money has value – you can buy property, improve property, and pay your debts with its currency. But when the game is over you put everything away, put the box on the shelf, and there is no longer any worth in those dollars. It will be seen that the same is true of our money on planet earth.
Compared to eternity our time here is called a breath or a vapor. Money has value during this time and how we use it is one way God tests our hearts. Jesus said, “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth who will trust you with true riches.” (Luke 16:11) A few verses later He went on to say: “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13)
How do we pass God’s money test?
- Recognize we are stewards, not owners. We are to love God and use money; not love money while trying to use God.
- We are to give back to God the first fruits of our income (Proverbs 3:9-10) which Scripture defines as a tithe or ten percent. (Genesis 14:20; Malachi 3:10-11)
- We are to be willing to share in any good deed as God leads us. (2Corinthians 9:7-8)
- As riches increase, we are to guard our hearts. (Psalm 62:10) Money is a useful servant but a terrible master.
- We are to trust God as our Source and be thankful because He “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (1Timothy 6:17)
“I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day…Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” 2Timothy 1:12, 14
Paul writes about two things: something we entrust to God that He guards; and something that He entrusts to us which we guard. Let’s look a little closer at both of these.
First, Paul recounts to Timothy the suffering he has had to go through and is going through for the sake of the gospel. He is not having an easy or comfortable life, and in fact, is currently in prison for his faith. He assures Timothy that it will be worth it. God has seen every sacrifice; He has witnessed every accusation and every injustice. God knows that Paul has persevered and continued to turn away from self-pity or bitterness and has tried to be faithful to his calling. Paul believes he will be generously rewarded for his attitudes and actions on the judgment day, and that God Himself is guarding over his reward.
After telling us about something valuable God guards for us, Paul writes about a treasure God expects us to guard. The treasure includes our “sincere faith” (1Timothy 1:5); our ministry “gift” that needs to be continually stirred up (1Timothy 1:6); and the salvation that God has given us “not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus.” (1Timothy 1:9) How do we keep this treasure safe?
- Value that which you have in Christ above everything else. If you don’t recognize the treasure you have it becomes vulnerable to the enemy who Jesus called a thief. (John 10:10)
- Stir up your faith by reading, praying, and obeying every day.
- Don’t become offended with God when you go through trials, confusion, or persecution. Remember Jesus didn’t promise a lack of trouble, but peace within it. (See John 16:33) My favorite bumper sticker: “Life is hard, but God is good.”
- Plan to persevere. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:35-36)
- Ask for help. One of the things the Holy Spirit does for us, according to the text above, is to help us guard the treasure.
“He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.” Job 9:32-35
The longing of Job was for a mediator. Someone who could stand in the gap between him and God. Someone who could remove God’s judgment and then place one hand on God and one on him to bring them together. This longing, which is also the need of all human beings, was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Jesus was God, the eternal Son. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God… and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1; 14) Jesus was and is fully God. When the Jews asked Him if He had seen Abraham, He replied, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:58) This is a clear reference to God’s Name in the Old Testament.
But Jesus was also a man. Hebrews 5:9 says that Jesus was “made perfect.” How could God be anything less than perfect? He was always perfect as God, but to become the perfect mediator He had to become a human being. “Once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him and was designated by God to be high priest.” (Hebrews 5:9) As our priest He offered the perfect sacrifice for sins, Himself. He needed to be God because He had to take the place of the whole human race; and He had to be man because it was man who had sinned. This sacrifice removed God’s wrath from all humanity and transformed God’s throne into a place of grace instead of judgment. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so we may receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Jesus Christ – fully God and fully man. We don’t have to understand the mystery of who He is to believe and worship. “There is one God and one mediator between God and human beings, the man Christ Jesus.” (1Timothy 2:5)
“God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” Genesis 3:5
After the enemy questioned the Word of God by asking Eve, “Did God really say that,” he questioned the character of God. In the text above it’s as if he’s saying, “God is holding out on you and doesn’t have your best interests in mind.” Once Eve took this bait, she could justify taking matters into her own hands to accomplish what was “best” for her. Instead of trusting God, she became suspicious of Him, and disaster followed. Is anything different today?
The irony of the attack quoted above is that God was offering Adam and Eve something only He possessed, but it could only be found in the other tree; the tree of life. We find out in Genesis 3:22 that this tree would more appropriately be called the tree of eternal life because whoever ate its fruit would “live forever.” Adam and Eve were being offered, in the fruit of this tree, the very life of God who “alone possesses immortality.” (1Timothy 6:16)
Today God is offering eternal life again through another tree; the cross. His purpose is not to restore us to the state of Adam and Eve before they fell, but to give us the eternal life they never embraced. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
What will happen to those who don’t come to the cross and eat of the life only Jesus can give? They will outlive their bodies and face judgment (Hebrews 9:27), and then be cast into hell to pay for their sins against humanity. (Revelation 20:11-15) After that they will be destroyed in hell (Matthew 10:28), be consumed by its fire (Hebrews 10:27), and perish like the beasts (2Peter 2:12) when they experience the second death of the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
Let’s trust God’s heart for us and receive the eternal life He died for us to have!