“Recipe for a Good Life”

Recipe for a Good Life”
1 Timothy 6:6-19
Rev. Mark M. Vickers
September 25, 2016

1 Timothy 6:6-19New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7 for we brought nothing into the world, so that[a] we can take nothing out of it; 8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 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. 10 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.

11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made[b] the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

17 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. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 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.

We, as United Methodists, and pretty much most Protestant denominations, have centered a great deal of our life, fellowship, and evangelism around food! Whether it is a fellowship meal following a Sunday morning service, a Wednesday night dinner, or a meal following a funeral or a wedding, it is often the drawing card that centers us and brings us together. It is often the fried chicken, the fabulous chocolate cakes, the pecan pie that helps to knit us together. 

I use this illustration this morning to help set the stage for what Paul tells Timothy here in the first letter of instruction on church management and livelihood. 

Often times people will ask you, “How much do you have on your plate?” More times than not, the question does not pertain to food or the amount of food that is on your plate, it is directed at the amount of “stuff,” work, play, stress, pleasure and other things that we are dealing with in our lives. Less about the quantity of food, and more about the quantity of those things that fill our lives.   

Being an avid user and poster on Facebook, I’m always wary about those pop up ads that suggest “here are the 4 or 5 foods that you should never eat because they will take years off your life.” But if you click on that ad, you don’t get to see those foods for almost 23 minutes into the infomercial. Then, when you see those foods, it has been proven that 73% of people have them in their kitchens. They are, the whitening agent in flour, diet sodas, coffee (actually the additives, sugar and cream that some people put in their coffee) and alcohol that is affected by gut yeast. These are all items that are considered “junk foods” which are high in caloric content, full of sugar, and most of all, taste good!  That is why we consume them. For the enjoyment of the moment and the instant pleasure of satisfaction.   

So it is with our spiritual and life of faith. We tend to consume those items that, for a moment, quench our spiritual hunger and thirst because they satisfy “on the surface.” Paul warns Timothy that often we are seeking to satisfy our faith and livelihood simply by obtaining that what we call material gain! 

We might liken it to the fact of eating a healthy vegetable and organic meal then racing to McDonalds for a Big Mac, fries, and a shake, just so we can feel full and satisfied!!    

The Apostle Paul strongly suggests to Timothy that we should seriously work toward a “diet” of “enough-ness,” i.e. that diet of being filled with all the right things without the desire or craving the bad things that fill us with all that is “not good.”    

Paul is extremely adamant and direct about those harmful “foods” that we digest that can harm our spiritual life or even destroy it. In verse 6 we have “discontent.”  A time when we are mis-calculating that which is the right amount for us. We have mis-calculated the understanding of what it means to be satisfied. One commentator puts it this ways, “contentment is recognizing that we are dependent on God’s provision (our daily bread as Jesus puts it).” But so often we seek to add more to what we think we need, instead of being content with what God has gifted us. 

In verse 9 we see that we are trapped with “harmful desires.” Junk food, junk desires, those things that fill us up with no sustenance. Once again we are cautioned not to consume those things that make us less than what we can become. 

In verse 10 we hear the caution that looms large in this text and probably largely in our lives and culture; the love of money! We hear continually that money, like food, is necessary to live, but it’s when we have the desire to obtain more than we need that balance tips. Keeping with our “food and dietary” imagery, when we seek “to get fat with money” is when we incur trouble. We are told to keep the balance, to do the daily work of maintaining and balancing our diet of the spirit and the soul. 

As Paul continues to remind us that our intentions of being on a good diet need to be focused on the intention of living the good balanced diet. Paul suggests that we set our hopes on God and not on our riches. We need to be rich in good works, not in what we own but in what we do for others! Putting money to good use and good work verses hoarding it for our own good. Finally, we need to be generous with what we have been given and ready to share! When we are able to share with others that which we have gained in order distribute and share the wealth of Jesus with a world that desperately needs balance!