Fruit of the Spirit, part 6: Godliness (conclusion)
1 Timothy 6:10 For money is the root of all evil: …
What? Did I misread something?…Yes, deliberately so, to make that point that this verse is often misquoted to say exactly how I (mis-)quoted it. It actually says:
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: …
Previously, we were noting that in 1 Timothy 6 Paul was not addressing all Christians for all future ages, but rather, he was specifically addressing how slaves or servants in Rome at Paul’s time could cultivate godliness while they yet remained in bondage. Paul’s instructions included…
1 Timothy 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
But this was not to encourage laziness! Consider on the other hand, the Christian who is not in bondage to another man. He has the ability to better himself substantially by applying his God-given talents of intelligence, industriousness and ingenuity in order to better his lot in life.
For a man in that situation to just kick back and relax a good portion of his time while he provides the bare necessities for his family when he could, with a little effort, add substantially more prosperity to his family; he is simply a slothful man.
One of my female cousins married a man and they moved up to the northeastern United States. I really do not know them—not having seen the cousin since we were children— but her siblings tell me they are perpetually poor. Why? Because she has always been the breadwinner while he has always been chronically unemployed throughout the decades of their marriage. It is not that he is lacking in intelligence, apparently; but he is simply too lazy to go out and work. Is it right for him to have the attitude of “Well, we have food and raiment, let us be therewith content.”? I don’t think Paul would have approved, do you?
But more than recognizing that Paul was primarily addressing the master-servant relationship here, he is also clearly speaking in more general terms of material prosperity and of our attitude towards it. When Paul makes these statements:
5b that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
…are we to assume that Paul is condemning material prosperity as antithetic to the Christian religion? No, not at all. But he is condemning the idea of some that that which helps us along the road to material abundance is therefore the true religion, or the idea that since wealth is good and religion is good, that therefore any mode of obtaining wealth must be approved by religion .
Those with these cock-eyed notions are they who have elevated material prosperity to the level of the essential element of religion. And conversely, that anything which does not contribute to material prosperity must therefore be not of the true religion. You could say they confuse God with gold; for while they give lip service to God with their “hallelujahs” and “praise the Lords,” their real desire is for material abundance.
Having said that, please understand that I am not making a blanket statement condemning anyone and everyone who has, or has ever, had anything to do with what one would label a “prosperity” preacher. I am simply saying there is a lot of phoniness masquerading as the gospel of Christ. I am referring particularly to SOME preachers who prey on people’s idolatry of money, that is, the preachers see the people’s love of money, they see the people’s sin, as a means of enriching themselves. Paul specifically addresses that here.
1 Timothy 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; [not greedy for money]
Furthermore, as we should all know by now, there is nothing wrong with money and material abundance per se. After all, some of the most prominent saints in the Bible were wealthy: Job, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and of course, most kingdom believers know the story of Joseph of Arimathea who was one of the richest men in the Roman Empire.
He was the original Tin Man, and he had a heart, didn’t he? Jesus said he would lie in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights, and where did Jesus lie after his death? In his great-uncle Joseph’s tomb, in the heart of the Tin Man, so to speak.
We call Joseph the Tin Man because he owned the tin mines in Cornwall and had the major contracts with the Roman government to supply the tin as an alloy in manufacturing the swords and shields of the Roman legions.
You could say he was the Lockheed-Martin or the Northrup-Grumman of the day. He was a major defense contractor, so to speak. One of the best books containing the story of Joseph of Arimathea is called The Drama of the Lost Disciples and we have stocked that fabulous book for several years. (See more below.)
So there is nothing wrong with material prosperity, nothing wrong with money, as long as it is not your god. But the means to obtain wealth must be in accordance with God’s laws. And I point this out because I have studied and read much over the years about PMA, positive mental attitude, and Think and Grow Rich, and scores of other self-help books. Without getting into specifics, let me just say that here again I find a wholesale condemnation of such tools as being supposedly un-Christian to be an unfair and an inappropriate characterization
Is there not falsehood in them? Absolutely. Can you think of any book other than the Bible that doesn’t have falsehoods in it? I think that some of them, some more than others obviously, are fine expositions in a secular way of some of the hidden truths of Scripture. But, as with any book, we need to be discerning, having our spiritual senses trained to judge right from wrong according to God’s laws, but we can utilize many of the principles to improve our lives and our material success. Give God the glory for it is He who gives us the power to get wealth. (Deuteronomy 8:18)
So let us not use this passage here in 1 Timothy to justify either extreme: let not the lazy man point to Paul as an excuse for not seeking to provide more for his family. God gave you talents, man; use them and build an estate for your family and for an inheritance for your grandchildren.
Conversely, let not the money-grubber point to Paul where he says it is the love of money which is the root of all evil, while denying that this could possibly apply to him. Let each of us examine our own heart and let the Holy Spirit convict us if our first love is money. Even if God runs a close second, repent brother or sister. You shall have no other gods before me. Amen? Finishing up this passage in 1 Timothy 6, ….
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after [according to]
2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
There again, it seems to me that godliness is used in the more general sense of the whole gospel. Let us look at one more instance of the word godliness.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation [conduct, behavior, manner of life] and godliness, [Would it not be appropriate there to substitute the words: piety or reverence and devotion to God? ]
12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
It should not surprise us to find the word godly in the New Testament to be simply the adjectival form of the Greek word for godliness. This Greek adjective appears three times. We will look at the one in….
2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Godly simply means piously, remember Webster’s definition? Let me repeat it to help affix it in our consciousness. “Godly; reverencing and honoring the Supreme Being in heart and in the practice of the duties he has enjoined; having due veneration and affection for the character of God; and habitually obeying his commands; religious; devoted to the service of God.”
Earlier we found the Greek word for godliness is unrelated to the Greek word for god, which is theos. However, we now find a number of occasions where the word godly comes from the adjectival form of theos. The relevant definition for this adjective is “whatever can in any respect be likened unto God, or resemble him in any way.”
That is, of course, the definition that many of us would give for godliness. There is nothing particularly difficult to understand about this, but let us notice just a couple of these passages as we prepare to wrap up our first look at one of the fruits of the spirit.
2 Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you….
1 Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
3 John 1:6 Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:
Once again, there is nothing too difficult to understand about the word godly; nor is godliness itself difficult to understand. But to put it into daily practice, that is a bit more difficult. Frankly, it can only be accomplished by God’s work of grace in you. Therefore, I wish to close with this benediction upon all of my readers.
Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
It is my prayer also for you whom we teach in person and via the CD Ministry that this first study of the fruit of the spirit has increased your knowledge of God whereby through His grace you will grow towards spiritual maturity in Christ Jesus.
The Drama of the Lost Disciples
In the first several years after learning of my Israelite ancestry, I came across perhaps a half-dozen books on the same general topic as the one below. Among them were The Coming of the Saints by John W. Taylor and Dedicated Disciples by Henry W. Stough. But The Drama of the Lost Disciples was by far the best of the bunch. It is written in such a style as to make the reader feel he is an eyewitness to the thrilling events of the years following our Lord’s resurrection.
The reader will feel as though he or she has become personally acquainted with Lazarus, the various Mary’s, Martha, Joseph of Arimathea (the Bill Gates of his day in terms of wealth), and the apostle Paul and his relatives and friends in the British community that hosted the first church in Rome. That church preceded by far any claim of the Roman Catholic church to primacy. —Dr. James W. Bruggeman
Table of Contents
- The Scandal of the Cross
- The Nobilis Decurio
- Who Moved the Stone at the Tomb?
- The Saulian Gestapo and the Exodus AD 36
- Let There Be Light
- The Glory in the Name
- Gallic Testimony
- St. Philip Consecrates Joseph of Arimathea in France
- Joseph Becomes the Apostle of Britain; Arrives on the Sacred Isle of Avalon
- Edict of Emperor Claudius, AD 42
- Jesus or Jupiter?
- The Royal British Founders of the First Christian Church at Rome, AD 58
- Did the Virgin Mary Live and Die in Britain?
- Simon Zelotes Martyred in Britain During the Boadicean War
- The Glorious Cavalcade
- St. Paul’s Mission in Britain
- Good King Lucius Nationalizes the Faith
- The Emperor of Christendom: Constantine the Great
- The Mystery of the Cup of the Last Supper
- The End of the Golden Trail
All those who are inclined to consider the Gospel of Christ a mystical, intangible or incredible story founded on myth and superstition with no substance to His existence, will find solid evidence in tracing the footsteps of the Lost Disciples from the exodus of AD 36, when they passed out of Biblical history into secular history, particularly the events concerning Joseph of Arimathea. (The cover photo is of the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey.)
The Drama of the Lost Disciples by George F. Jowett, soft cover, 255 pages, indexed, appendix.
Price: $17 each, plus shipping and handling of $4. Add 50¢ s + h for each additional book.
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