The worst kind of trap is the one you never saw coming. The pain of being caught in the trap is compounded by the huge element of surprise and the question, “How did I get here?”
When I was 13, I was riding my bike over to a friend’s house and came out into a road from behind a fence. I had pulled this maneuver a thousand times. But on this particular day, there was a car coming on the road. At first, I thought I could beat it by passing in front of it. But the bumper caught the rear tire of my bike, spinning me off and mangling the back wheel pretty good. I had some pretty good scrapes and bruises that I got out of it as well.
I got caught. And I got caught by surprise. It was not fun telling my Mom what had happened.
That’s what Paul is instructing Timothy to warn his people about. Only the subject is not bicycle riding. It’s the love of money.
Paul points out that so many people pursue financial gain, thinking that it will give them peace of mind and fill up the hole in their heart. Others pursue wealth because it’s the “measuring stick” they use for determining their identity and self-worth.
There’s another way. Faith in Jesus can give us true peace and contentment. Faith in Jesus establishes our identity and self-worth as a blood-bought child of God, redeemed and adopted through the power of the cross and the empty tomb.
Pursue wealth as the source of our peace, the missing piece in our lives, the foundation of our identity and self-worth and we will find ourselves in the trap. We’ll discover we’re in the path of oncoming ruin and destruction. We’ll realize that our love of money just spun our heads around. We didn’t see what was around the fence, so only too late did we realize we were being foolish and our desires were harmful.
Love and seek money as our ultimate thing, and in place of peace, we’ll find ourselves pierced.
Instead, Paul says, pursue what God holds out to us. Seek the thing that Jesus is already placing into our hands. His righteousness, won via a lifetime of perfect obedience — and now his gift to us. Jesus sends us the gift of the Holy Spirit, who grants us faith, inspires us to love, spurs us on to endurance, and helps us to deal with situations in life with gentle restraint.
In other words, instead of seeking what you don’t have, pursue and battle for what Jesus has already given you. Take hold of that which has taken hold of you.
Ironic, isn’t it? The very best, most valuable things that you could ever fight to get are really already yours in Christ — and by faith they will be yours for eternity!
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. 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. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people 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. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:6-12, NIV).
Lord Jesus, take hold of me, of my entire heart and mind. And lead me by the power of your Spirit to take hold of you, and all the blessings of godliness you have in store for me. Help me to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Strengthen me to fight the good fight of faith and to find peace, joy and contentment in all that you have given me.
Our Bible reading for Wednesday, October 21, is Jeremiah 46:1 – 47:7, 1 Timothy 6:3-21 and Psalm 119:73-80.