“Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses…
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.” 1 Timothy 6:6-12,17-19
These are famous verses. The kind of Bible verses that float around in our culture. Even people who are very unfamiliar with the Bible have, at some point, heard the words “for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” But does that make any difference?
Sometimes such verses seem to me like being told to eat my vegetables. Here is what I know about eating vegetables. They are good for us in many ways. They provide nutrients and fiber that are great for our bodies. They keep us healthy and they help us not gain unnecessary weight. They are the first thing that we see when we walk into a grocery store. They are easy to prepare. They even taste pretty good.
So why do we struggle to eat our vegetables? Why is junk food so much more attractive?
Because there is in us something that we have chosen to call “sin.” This little word carries a lot of different meanings. Missing the mark. Rebelliousness. Selfishness. Pride. It captures the battle that often rages within us between what we know we ought to do and what we end up doing.
Sometimes we hit the mark. We do eat our vegetables. We are content with what we have. We don’t set our hopes on money and what it can buy us. But sometimes we fall off into the deep end of chasing dead ends.
It is a mystery why some people are able to consistently eat their vegetables, take good care of themselves, feel confident and content with life while others eat junk food meals and chase junk good lives.
Here is where the faith gets hard. Here is where we need God’s help to shun that which is destructive to us and fight for that which is worth fighting for, which is always better for us. Here is where we pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life…
Let us pray: Dear Lord, you see how fickle we are and how easily we fill our lives with junk. Here is where we need the power you alone can give to us to fight the good fight of the faith, to be content with what we have, to pursue love, endurance, gentleness and all that really matters in our lives. Give us that power, one day, one meal, one paycheck, at a time. In Jesus’ name. Amen.