At the end of his letter to Timothy, Paul dictates some final exhortations, 6:2b-21. He has a few words to say about true and false teaching and the danger of wealth, he then gives a charge to believers, advice to wealthy believers and finally a word of encouragement.
v6. Some in Timothy's congregation have the view that godliness generates wealth, v5. Paul doesn't doubt that this is often true, but real wealth is found in godliness, not possessions. So godliness, accompanied by a satisfied acceptance of our share in this world's things, is where the greatest profit lies.
v7-8. Seeing "we can't take it with us when we've gone", we should be satisfied with a full belly and a roof over our head; such is wealth enough.
v9-10. Paul's point is that avarice leads a believer away from Christ; wealth swamps us. Paul supports his point by quoting a popular proverb, v10a. Some believers, chasing the dollar, have drifted from the faith and found themselves trapped in Satan's snare.
v11. As a believer, Timothy should shun such evil and pursue good. The evil he is to flee from is most likely the danger of wealth, along with the sins listed in v4 and 5. Timothy is to flee from such and pursue (run toward) right behavior. Faith and love are the substantial qualities in Paul's list, particularly faith, in that love flows from faith.
v12. Timothy is to fight the good fight of faith, resting on the promises of God, particularly the promise of life eternal. This will involve an ongoing struggle to maintain his profession (faith exhibited in deeds) against worldly desires, doubts and fears.
v13. To aid in this fight, Paul reminds Timothy that the Lord will empower him in the struggle and that he has the example of Christ to follow. Jesus professed his faith in the exemplary life he lived while Pontius Pilate was the governor of Palestine.
v14. Timothy is to flee avarice, remembering that godliness with contentment is great gain. Live this truth, with one eye on the day of Christ's return.
v15-16. The thought of Christ's appearing leads Paul to craft a beautiful doxology.
v17. Paul now gives Timothy some advice on how to pastor the wealthy in his congregation. Timothy is to remind the wealthy not to be "purse-proud", nor to be overly confident in their wealth. The creation has no value in itself other than our enjoyment of it.
v18. Let the wealthy be rich in generosity.
v19. The believer who moves from avarice to generosity is shaping their life in the image of Christ. By this means they lay a firm foundation for their future walk with Christ, both here and in eternity.
"The easiest part of all is winning. We all lose in life; we lose in love. I'm pretty much a decent character; I can handle it. I tell you my friend, greater fighters than I have lost," Mike Tyson.
There is one fight we needn't feel afraid of losing and this is the good fight of faith. When Paul writes to Timothy, in his first letter, he leaves him with some wonderful exhortations. One of the most stirring is found in chapter 6: "fight the good fight of faith". This is the battle we all have to get into. So, what can we say about the battle of faith?
The first thing we need to know is what this fight involves. What does it mean to fight the battle of faith? In our passage for study, Paul actually gives us an illustration of the fight. We see it in the "confession" of Jesus. Not a confession in the sense of a spoken confession, but rather a doing confession. Jesus, throughout his life, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Palestine, remained true to his beliefs. He is the Messiah who came to suffer, die and be vindicated in his resurrection. We know, only too well, that Jesus was tempted to turn aside from the struggle, particularly during those times when human desires pressed in on him. Yet, he held his ground; his testimony was unwavering. Jesus maintained his reliance upon the Father; such is faith. Jesus fought the good fight of faith. So you see, the real fight for us is to hold onto our hope, rely on God's promises, fight the good fight of faith.
The second thing we need to know is what are the manifestations, or if you like, the practical outworkings of this good fight of faith. A restaurant was once brave enough to put up the sign: "what you eat today walks and talks tomorrow." We are what we eat, how true. But, it is also true that we are what we think. In this short passage, Paul actually lists some of the things that flow out of a firm faith in Christ. A sure faith in Christ, for our eternal standing in the sight of God, produces the ideal of love. In particular, the passage looks at avarice and encourages contentment and generosity, a generous love that flows from faith. What we believe shapes what we are.
The third thing we need to know is what support, if any, we have in this good fight of faith. Paul reminds Timothy of the God who enlivens him. The NIV actually says of God that he "gives life to everything." Enliven, or even empower, would be a better way to put it. There is one who stands with us, who strengthens us in the fight.
So, let us fight the good fight of faith.
1. How does a person lay hold of eternal life? v12
2. What is the good confession? v13
3. Discuss, in practical terms, what it means to fight the good fight in our daily Christian life. How do we do it and what are the results?