3Anyone who teaches something different disagrees with the correct and godly teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. 4Those people who disagree are proud of themselves, but they don't really know a thing. Their minds are sick, and they like to argue over words. They cause jealousy, disagreements, unkind words, evil suspicions, 5and nasty quarrels. They have wicked minds and have missed out on the truth.
These people think religion is supposed to make you rich. 6And religion does make your life rich, by making you content with what you have. 7We didn't bring anything into this world, and we won't take anything with us when we leave. 8So we should be satisfied just to have food and clothes. 9People who want to be rich fall into all sorts of temptations and traps. They are caught by foolish and harmful desires that drag them down and destroy them. 10The love of money causes all kinds of trouble. Some people want money so much they have given up their faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.
The Lord Jesus faced opposition from religious people during his lifetime. It was no different for his disciples. There will always be people who stray from the truth and cause destruction. Paul’s analysis in this passage suggests that often what lies behind disagreements is not truth but character.
Notice what Paul says about people who disagree in verses 4 and 5. They exhibit pride, they enjoy an argument (and presumably like to come out on top) but it’s all words. They undermine unity and cause division. It’s nasty and you leave feeling bruised.
Perhaps worst of all in this case is their motivation of self-enhancement. They want to be rich. It’s a warning to us. When we feel we are defending the truth it’s worth putting our motives under the microscope as well as reflecting on the consequences of our actions. What really lies behind our crusade? How are we treating our neighbour?
After that damning accusation, Paul focuses on temptations around money and wealth. You’ve been hibernating if you’ve not run across a Christian leader caught in this particular trap! It’s prevalent and grieving. The godly leader’s trademark is contentment (6-8). The constant drive to better our position, improve our standing and lifestyle, increase our income and bolster our security is fed by media bombardment. Contentment is a choice.
Contentment derives from understanding true riches (v 6) and eternal consequences (v 7). I immediately think of colleagues who take massive cuts in salary to come and work for a church or Christian organization. They believe this stuff rather than just talk about it! The alternative is to open ourselves to nothing less than destruction (v 9). Putting wealth first destroys our dependence on God, skews our view of others and ultimately ruins our inner life.
Lord God, You are good to us. Everything good we have is from you. You did not even spare your own Son but gave him for us. Save me from absorption with my needs. Today, help me find contentment in you so that my mind can be directed to others’ needs. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.