Today I would like to at the means to great gain from the Word of God in I Timothy 6. It is often said that Christianity is not a religion that brings profit. However in today’s passage it talks about the means to great gain. In other words in Christianity too there is profit. However this profit does not mean that it is a guarantee that there will be no sickness or disasters or that the whole family can live safely. Nor does it mean that business will prosper. What is called profit in Christianity is rather to believe that God works all things for the good and you can receive with thanksgiving all that God gives. That is “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (6) This is real profit or gain, isn’t it? A famous evangelist, Takimoto Akira, published a book entitled “There is no place that has this huge of a profit”. Truly there is no other place that has this huge of a profit or gain. This is truly the means “to great gain” (6) Today I want to talk about the “means”. (5)
- Respect your master (Vs. 1 & 2)
First, I would like to look at the profits you receive by serving your masters at work. Please look at verses 1 and 2. “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.”
“All who are under the yoke of slavery” (1) are Christians that are working for non-Christian masters. At that time half of the Roman society was slaves. Surprisingly the Gospel permeated even among these slaves too and many became believers. This is teaching the Christian slaves that believed how they should serve their unbelieving masters. Here it says, “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect.” (1) Even if your employer is an unbeliever, you should fully respect your boss. The reason is “so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” (1) According to Romans 13 all order and authorities in society are ordained by God. Even if your boss is an unbeliever, you must recognize that his position and authority was ordained by God, rejoice, and obey him. By doing that God’s name will honored. How Christians serve at work is the greatest testimony of faith. If a Christian is seen working seriously and earnestly he gives a good impression、then that is in and of itself a wonderful testimony
The greatest preacher of the 20th century, Lloyd-Jones, said that Christians by being Christian automatically influence society. Christians by serving as a Christian in the work place in and of itself is a testimony and makes a huge influence.
I read the testimony of Rev. Ari from Simon’s original church、J’ｓTable Christian church. I was interested how Rev. Ari who was born and brought up in Iran as a Moslem became a Christian.
After Rev. Ari graduated from High School, he entered the army. There he met an Armenian soldier. On the battle field even if you are friends each person is earnest to survive so you think only about yourself. It’s a self-centered world. However, the Armenian was different. He gave his belongings to people who needed it. Moreover, not reluctantly, but he looked like he was joyfully giving. Also not only things, but he also showed concern for others. Even at the battlefield which is a severe environment and in an ill afford situation, it looked like he listened to what everyone was saying, and did whatever he could do the best he could.
Rev. Ari thought that was not usual. He was different from any person that Rev. Ari had ever met. Rev. Ari wanted to know where his power came from and how he could do the things he did. Rev. Ari finally found the courage to ask him.
He kindly answered that he was a Christian and so it was not his strength. He could do it because he believes in the God of the Bible. In other words, it is by the power of Jesus Christ.
Honestly, when Rev. Ari heard this he was disappointed. He had already given up on god and religion. He thought he didn’t want to have any contact with such things again. However, he couldn’t ignore this power that the Armenian had. Then he met Jesus Christ and became a Christ. That’s because he wanted to become like the Armenian. The Armenian soldier’s presence in and of itself led Rev. Ari to salvation.
The Armenian soldier’s presence influenced a Moslem to convert. By Christians fully respecting their bosses at their work, God’s name will be honored.
In verse 2, next it teaches about how a person should serve his believing master. It says, “Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better.” (2) In the case of your boss being a Christian a mistake that is easy to fall into is developing too cozy of a relationship, and conduct yourself at ease, and tend to not give the other person the respect that he deserves. It is wonderful to have a relationship of brothers and sisters in Christ, but we must not forget our manners and be polite. That’s because love ”is not rude.” (I Cor. 13:5) We must think highly of our masters who are Christian brothers and “serve them even better.” (2)
The reason for doing so is stated after this. That is “because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them.” (2) This means that by the Christian servant doing a good service or job the master who is also a Christian will benefit. For a brother in Christ to receive some benefit is for other brothers and sisters in Christ a huge joy. That’s because the love of the brothers and sisters in Christ pleases God. Also that too becomes a large allotment of benefits as a blessing that is returned to you.
- To those who teach false doctrines (Vs. 3-5)
Next please look at verses 3 to 5. Here it says, “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.”
Anyone who “teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching” (3) In other words, more than what is written in the Bible, they push their own thinking. They argue as if what they say is the truth, but it “does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching.” (3)
It talked about these “false doctrines” (3) also in 1:3. In the Ephesian church there were people who taught false doctrines and devoted “themselves to myths and endless genealogies.” (1:3) As a result the church became confused. Such teaching only causes “controversies rather than God’s work-which is by faith.” (1:4) Therefore, “have nothing to do with” (4:7) such people.
What are the characteristics of such people?
① They are “conceited”. (4) The Greek word for “conceited” (4) is very interesting. It means “to be caught up in the smoke” or to be “infatuated”. When you are caught up smoke, you can’t see anything. You can’t see what’s around you. A conceited person is in such a condition. A conceited person can’t see himself so even then he is egoistic and self-satisfied. Such people more than the teaching of the Bible, they value their own thinking.
② They understand nothing. This is to have no knowledge or no understanding. While they say they know “the law, but they do not know what they are talking about.” (1:7) Also, even when they hear God’s Word, they can’t understand. Even though if they would understand the Word of God correctly and accept it, then they would know how wonderful the Word of God is! However, their conceit is a barrier so they understand nothing. This vicious circle will be repeated over and over again forever.
③ They have “an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words.” (4) This can be seen especially in people who have knowledge to some extent or have had such training, but nothing good comes out of it. It only results “in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction.” (4,5) Only negative results occur. Even though God’s family, the church, should be one of mind and co-operate for the salvation of people, the resulting situation is completely contrary to this goal. This is not the work of the Holy Spirit. This is truly a “spirit of deception”, the work of Satan. It undermines and corrodes the body of Christ, the church, a little at a time.
④ They “think that godliness is a means to financial gain. (5) In other words, they are using religion as “a means to financial gain.” (5) They are thinking of trying to make money through Christianity. They demanded payment for their professional services. They wanted “financial gain” (5) so they fell ”into temptation and a trap” (9) and plunged “into ruin and destruction”. (9) They had once known the truth but because of their desire for financial gain they were “robbed of the truth”. (5) Their teaching became “a means to financial gain” (5) “rather than God’s work.” (1:4)
Therefore we must be very careful to not “abandon the faith and follow” (4:1) such teachers and teachings. We also must be careful that we ourselves don’t “fall into temptation” (9) to be become rich or have “an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words.” (4) We also must be careful that that even though we study the Bible or have been a Christian for many years that we don’t become “conceited” (4) thinking that we know everything, when in reality we understand “nothing”. (4) Let’s “flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (11)
- Godliness with contentment (Vs.6-10)
Next let’s look at what brings us great gain. Please look at verses 6 to 10. Verse 6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
False teachers “think that godliness is a means to financial gain (5), but here it is saying that that is not so. It is not that if you believe in God, you will prosper or you will succeed, but it is really by “godliness with contentment” (6) that is the means to great gain. That means that the real means to having a great gain is to believe in God who saved us from our sin, be content with what God gives, and to live being thankful to God.
There is no other great gain except this. No matter how many of the things you want becomes yours, if you are not content thinking “I want more!” “More!” and only complain, then there will be no joy. There is no benefit. However, if you are content with what God has given you, are joyful, and can be thankful, there is great gain. This is the kind of gain that the Bible talks about.
Why can Christians be content with and be thankful for what God has given them?
① Because God loves us and gave his son for us that we might have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever has believed in him may not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
In the Bible it is written that whoever believes in God’s son Jesus Christ will have eternal life. Eternal life is a great gain! We all for less than 100 years on this earth study and work hard. 100 years and eternity are completely different. Rather they can’t be compared. It is said that the first emperor of China because of his desired wish for perennial youth and long life, he promised to give those who looked for medicine for perennial youth and long life whatever they desired. He had them look throughout the world, but his wish was not granted. However, we through Jesus Christ have been given eternal life. There is no other god like Jesus. Even if you search throughout the world, such a Savior cannot be found in any other religion. That is an awesome gain! The Christian faith doesn’t necessarily promise profit in this life, but it promises benefits in the next world. The next world is the world after death, heaven. Even if we die we will be given living eternal life. It is not necessary to have mixed feeling of joy and sorrow about our life on this earth. We are able to be thankful for what God has given us.
② Because we believe that God “who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all… along with him, graciously give us all things.” (Romans 8:32) In Romans 8:32 it says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
In other words, those who believe in Christ, not only have received God’s eternal life, but God also gives all things in creation that he has created. This is natural logically. That’s because all of creation was made by Christ and for Christ. God who gave us Christ, gives us all that was created by Christ. By believing in Christ and becoming one with Christ, we become joint heirs with Christ.
Psalms 84:11 says, “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.”
God does not withhold good things. If it is good for you, then God will definitely give it to you. If something is withheld from you, then it is not good for you. God is going to give you something more important. God will give you everything that you need. God does not withhold good things “from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11) “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
Christians know this so they can peacefully depend on God. If you don’t know this you are always complaining that you don’t have this or that and are very nervous.
③ They “know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28) In Romans 8:28 it says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes.”
This is not on the level where you are given everything thing that you want. It is “for the good of those who love” (Romans 8:28) Christ. Even things that seem bad, God uses them “for the good”. (Romans 8:28)
One person that made a huge influence in the history of evangelism in Japan is Ayako Miura. Ayako Miura wrote “Shiokari Pass” and other novels based upon faith.
When Ayako Miura got married, her husband, Mitsuo‘s, salary was very low. They were struggling so they opened a little store and began a business. They had an honest and kind business so the customers were increasing and increasing. Every day the truck would bring stock, but every day they sold out.
However, one day when her husband came home, he said worriedly that because of their shop, other shops were going out of business. Today the shop across the street closed.
When Ayako Miura heard that, her heart hurt. She thought that it was wrong for them to be putting other stores out of business. Therefore, from the next day on she started cutting down on the amount of stock she was buying and chose only a small amount of items to sell. When customers came to buy something they were out of, she would send the customers to a different store. As a result she had more time on her hands and could do reading and writing that she liked. She was able to enter the Asahi Newspaper Company Novel prize money contest that was seeking contestants at that time. The prize money was \10,000,000 which was in that age an exceptional amount of prize money. In this way the famous novel, “Freezing point”, was born.
In the midst of the problem of other stores going out of business because of their store the Miuras were troubled over what they should do. In the end they made their store smaller so that other stores would not be effected. However, as a result it opened the door for Ayako Miura as a novelist.
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28) We believe in God’s concern for us.
Then even if we have a problem, it is not a problem anymore. If we don’t make a problem a problem then we should be able to easily solve it. That’s because we can peacefully put all in the hands of the Almighty God and we can work on the solution. All problems are in the hand of God who is the creator of creation. God is Almighty so there isn’t even one problem that God can’t solve. All problems will be solved in God’s time and by God’s way. This is a great benefit, isn’t it? “Those who love” (Romans 8:28) have this great benefit!
Verse 7 and 8 say, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
This is the truth. We are born naked “and we can take nothing” (7) when we leave this world. I have thought as I have done funerals many times, no matter how much a person leaves on this earth, he “can take nothing” (7) with him. All becomes ashes.
Therefore, “if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (8) This is actually written as a command. It is “Be content with that.” You mustn’t complain. If you complain, you are breaking the command. We tend to look at what we don’t have and complain, but let’s look at what we have and be thankful. “If we have food and clothing” (8) let’s be content.
Even so, what happens to those who seek profit in this world and want more and more riches can be seen in verses 9 and 10. Here it says, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
The end of such people is “ruin”. “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (10) “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” (9) Paul is saying here that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (9) Money in and of itself is not evil. The problem is “the love of money,” (9) or being controlled by money. There are some people for whom money is power. However, when you consider that such desires cause problems not only in the political world and financial world, but in various places of society, truly it is just as the Bible says. Therefore, what the Bible says is really the truth.
That is something that Christians must be careful about. Christians too by loving money “have wandered from the faith” (9) and caused grief not only to themselves, but to others too. As a fearful result, they fell into destruction. In other words, when you love money, money becomes everything and you begin serving money. However, we should love God and God should be everything and we should be serving God. We must love God, not money. What Christians aim for is not becoming rich, but being full of God. That is the means to great gain.
To do that let’s pray the prayer of Psalm 30:7 to 9. “Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and dishonor the name of my God.”
“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and dishonor the name of my God.” (8, 9) Then let’s depend on God more and more, and receive that great gain. Truly “godliness with contentment” (6) is the “means to” (5) “great gain.” (6)