Speak Words That Profit

2 Timothy 2:11-14 King James Version (KJV)

11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.

I love faithful sayings, sayings that are true no matter what the circumstance, what the trial, what the test. Faithful sayings stand the test of time and can be remembered in our deepest need. Faithful sayings supersede all that this world can offer me for advice and counsel. I know it is a faithful saying if it is backed up by the word of God. There are so many faithful sayings in His glorious word. Paul shares with us just a few of those here.

“If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him.” Being dead with Him means burying our sins in the past and pressing in close to Him in the present moment. In Galatians 2:20 Paul says he is crucified with Christ, yet He lives. It’s not Paul that lives, but Christ that lives in Him. He only lives that life by the grace of God. We all only live our lives by the grace of God. He has no mandate to keep us alive. When we turn our lives over to Him, He resides within us to bring us into the perfection of Jesus Christ. I must die to myself, my desires, my lusts, my hopes. I must live in Him, learning His desires and His plans for my life. Paul says he died daily. Daily I must come to myself and put away all those silly things that corrupt my life, turning everything over to Him and dying to self. I should never be offended because it is only my flesh and my pride that can get offended. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life must go. Humility, meekness, patience, compassion and faithful endurance must abide. This is how we should be living.

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” Suffering is a foreign concept to most of us. Oh, we may think we suffer. But in these United States, we barely know suffering. Sure we suffer through things like cancer, heart attack, divorce, financial hardship and other such things. But we rarely suffer for the Gospel here. Missionaries overseas suffer for the Gospel. Those who convert from Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism can suffer for the Gospel. They often take to themselves terrible persecution and even death because they will not deny their faith. The suffer for Christ’s sake just as the disciples in the early church did. When we are willing to give all we have, including our own lives, to follow Him, we shall also reign with Him in His kingdom.

“If we deny Him, He will also deny us” Jesus said this as well. There is no more faithful saying than the ones that Jesus said. He told us if we deny Him before men, he will deny us before the Father, Considering He is our intercessor and mediator, that would be a bad thing for sure. We need Him to acknowledge us before the Father. After all, it is He that will sit on the throne of judgement in heaven, and it is His book that has the names written down. We must make sure we never deny Him to others. If someone asks you if you’re a Christian, proudly say yes! The book of revelation says that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. That testimony is that we live for Jesus, that we have been born again and that we have done the will of the Father. In a manner of speaking, we deny Him when we don’t show mercy, grace and compassion. We must do all we can to show others we are Christians.

“If we believe not, yet he abideth still” I used to have a pastor that said “God said it. I believe it, and that settles it”. The truthful saying is “God said it and that settles it” It does not matter if I believe it or not. When God says it, it’s done. We can argue all we want. We can come up with our own theology, our own doctrine, our own religious interpretations and our own Magisterium. All of that does not matter. What God said matters, and it is all written in His book. He left us His will in a neat package and we are to live according to that will. It’s the greatest love letter ever written, filled with countless promises and blessings to those who will follow it, and countless curses to those that will not. He cannot deny Himself, and he regards His word above His name. That is pretty high regard and we had better take note of that!

One of the big problems in the Church today is that we strive about things that really don’t matter a hill of beans to God. He hates religion. Religion is the letter of the law. Jesus came and condemned the Pharisees as white washed sepulchers full of dead men’s bones because they were so good at keeping the letter of the law they forgot about keeping the heart of the law. The heart of the law is mercy. The heart of the law is grace. The heart of the law is forgiveness. The heart of the law is compassion. Here is how God describes Himself in Exodus 34:6-7

6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

We should stick to these things and not silly arguments about doctrine and theology. Paul even tells us to stay away from foolish and unlearned questions because they turn into strife (v23 of this chapter). I have discussions with others about the merits of my beliefs and they are good because they help me to understand another system of faith. But we must keep the main thing the main thing. It’s not my theology and doctrine or their theology and doctrine that matters. It’s not what the founding fathers of my religion or the saints of theirs say that matters. It is what the Bible says that matters. We must strive to speak words that will profit each other, not tear each other down. I am guilty of that occasionally and I am sorry for that (you know who you are). Isaiah 1:18-20 says

18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”Says the LORD,
“Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken

The Lord Himself told Isaiah what we should reason about. The cleansing of sin and the willingness to obey. This we must do with the purpose of speaking words that edify and minister grace, words that are profitable to the hearer. We will all be much better off when we get to that place!

Endure All Things

2 Timothy 2:8-10

8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.
10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

What a reminder Paul gives to Timothy! I have to wonder if Timothy really needed to be reminded of the fact that Jesus was David’s seed and that he was raised from the dead. So why does Paul make such a statement. Why would he tell Timothy he needs to remember this?

I have read the Bible over and over and over again. I have read it from front to back, straight through in one year, 6 times. I have studied out subject after subject, book after book, line upon line about mor3e things than I can care to guess. I studied through the book of Psalms for over a year, took months in James, Philippians, Galatians and now Timothy. In line with that knowledge, God has granted me a certain amount of wisdom. He has also given me a wonderful ability to craft my words, both with the pen and with my speech, to help instruct others in the truths I have learned. I am a blessed man in this regard.

I do not say all this to boast, or in a manner of pride. I say all this so the next statement w ill carry a little more weight. I have a lot to learn about the word of God, about Jesus Christ His Son, about the love Christ displayed on the cross and about so many other things. I have to continually remember what Jesus has done for me so that I can more fully understand the rest of God’s word. More than that, I must continually remember the price that he paid for my salvation so that I will be more equipped to endure the hardships that may come as a result of my witness. People will give me a hard time if I am vocal about my relationship with Jesus. Look at all the hardship Paul put up with. ! can’t even imagine living a life lived like he did, always oppressed for the gospel. Yet he was willing to pay the price because he remembered that Jesus was raised from the dead, and he knew he would be as well. This prize was worth all the suffering he might go through. This is why Paul continued to preach despite the hardships he faced.

The word of God is boundless Even if they had killed Paul, there were 12 other disciples preaching the gospel. They all were willing to give their lives for the gospel also, because they knew Jesus was risen from the dead and they would be as well. Paul continued to write letters from prison and he converted prison guards in Rome. He was relentless and as a result we have the mighty lessons that the New Testament contains. His pen became even mightier than his preaching was and I am sure the officials in Rome were not real pleased with all this church uprising going on about their kingdom. They could not keep the word of God contained and that is as true today as it was in Paul’s day. The word of God will endure until the end of time. Jesus said heaven and earth would pass away before His word would pass away. His word is boundless forevermore.

Because of this, Paul was ready to endure anything that came His way. Listen to this excerpt from
2 Corinthians vs 23-31:

23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.

Paul was an extraordinary man who lived an extraordinary life. He gave up the riches of a Pharisee and one sent by the Pharisees to live a life of great tribulation, wandering across southern Europe (as we know it today) to preach the gospel. He was willing to endure anything that came his way. I have to ask myself what I am willing to endure! I find it hard to go a day without food. I can’t stand having pain anywhere in my body. I can’t swim well now with this neuropathy in my hands and feet. I wouldn’t mind being in the wilderness wandering and hiking, or in the sea in a boat. But I would mind if there was peril in front of me, or if I had gone through a rough time in one of these places. Paul just kept on going, knowing there was another trial or test right around the corner. Nothing phased him!

I don’t know where you are with your faith, but I know where I am. I would not have gotten through one of Paul’s journeys without saying it isn’t worth it. I would have gone home and just worried about my own circle of friends. Why go to all that risk. Let someone else do it! But then I think about the relentless call God must have been pouring into Paul’s life and I wonder if I would have the courage he did if only I would yield more of myself to Him. I think back to a little song I wrote a few years ago and say once again “I’m Yours”

Wherever you ask me to go
I’ll go
Whatever you ask me to do
I’ll do
Whatever you ask me to say
I’ll say

Whatever you want me to give
I’ll give
However you want me to live
I’ll live
Whoever you want me to love
I’ll love

Because I am yours
All yours
I have given all my heart and soul to you
Eternally yours
All yours
Help me live my life to glorify your name

Consider This

2 Timothy 2:1-7

2 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

This admonition to Timothy still lives today. We can all take a lot out of this. I have a friend who sometimes tells me that certain passages of the Bible that are spoken to an individual are only for that individual, or group of individuals. I tend to believe that the Bible speaks to all of us in every way. These verses can teach us a lot of wisdom if we read them as if they were spoken to us. Remember that the Bible was given to teach us the ways of God. That is why I entitled this lesson “Consider this” because Paul tells Timothy to consider what he says and asks that the Lord give him understanding in all things. I pray today I can add just a little bit to your understanding, or at least throw a spark into your thinking.

First, Paul says to be strong in grace. Boy, I fall short there. I do not always speak things that minister grace to the hearer (Ephesians 4:29). I can get rash and hasty when trying to make a point and that is wrong of me. I am far from perfect and often the pride rises up in me and wants to prove my point for me. I confirm that I can’t be wrong and that the other must be in error. That is not grace
Grace has compassion and empathy in its language and conduct. Grace is often explained as an acronym – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Jesus had compassion and put Himself in our place, giving us the greatest gift ever given, our salvation and eternal life. We should do everything we can to share that gift with others around us. This is also being strong in grace. We should not continue to sin so grace will abound (Romans 6:1-2). His grace provided a way of escape from our sin, and being strong in grace also means we are standing strong in the eternal battle between our flesh and the spirit within. In Timothy’s day, as in today, there are plenty of diversions and evils that can whittle away at our faith. Stay strong in grace.

Paul then tells Timothy to make sure he is faithful to commit his teachings to others. Isn’t this a job for all of us? Isn’t it important that we take Pauls’ teaching and commit them to others, that they might know the mind of Christ? Of course it is! His teaching on love in 1 Corinthians 13 is certainly much needed in our world today. His teaching on the relationship between husband and wife in Ephesians 5, the words about the amor of God in Ephesians 6, the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12, the teaching on the body of Christ in Ephesians 4 and so many others are there for us to share with others. This is not just to Timothy, but to all of us. Be diligent to help others understand the truth of God’s word.

Then Paul tells Timothy that he must endure hardship just like a soldier in a battle does. I have a friend who served in both Vietnam and Iraq. Living in the jungle, hiking through pouring rain not knowing where the enemy was lurking, the bugs that were everywhere and the snakes that hung in the trees. You never knew when trouble would come. Then they were in the desert, with bombs going on in seemingly the safest places. Trouble all around. You had to be prepared for it and willing to endure it. We, as soldiers of the cross, must do the same. For most of us, the hardest thing we face is rejection and ridicule when we stand up for Christ. People will mock us and make fun of us but we must endure that. Christ didn’t say a word during parts of His trial. Why should we get so boisterous! Minister grace, even in the hardest times!

Paul next compares this walk with an athletic event. We don’t enter a competition to lose, and we don’t compete with the attitude that we will break the rules. I find it fascinating and frustrating how some think they have the right rules and I have the wrong ones. The rules of this race are quite clear and they are in God’s word for all of us to live in and walk in. It’s not just the rules of conduct and character I am talking about. It is the rules of who goes to heaven and who does not, of who has salvation and who does not, of who receives God’s blessing and who does not. Baptist differ from Catholics. Methodists differ from Evangelicals, Lutherans differ from Pentecostal, and so on. Yet we all follow the same God! The rules to be a Christian are simple. Jesus explains it in John 3. Paul goes into it in Romans 8. The rule to keep our salvation is in Matthew 7:22. Obedience is the key. Other than that, all other rules are secondary. Let’s make sure we put first things first!

Lastly, Paul says that a farmer who works hard must partake of the crops first. I like that thought. I planted a garden this year and I hope I can be the first to partake of the fruit in bout 90 days. I am a bit at loss as to how this fits in with the rest of Paul’s admonishment here so I’ll leave this one up to you/ If anyone would like to leave a comment on how this fits, please do so!

These are the things Paul tells Timothy to consider. Be strong in grace, willing to witness, ready to endure hardship and fight the good fight, ending the race knowing that you followed the rules. I’ve been honest with how I am doing on these things. How are you doing? Consider this today!

Hold Fast

2 Timothy 1:13-18

13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
17 But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.
18 The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.

It’s easy for me to lose my grip on things these days. During my cancer battle I developed neuropathy on the outside of both of my hands. This includes my outside two fingers on both hands. There is some feeling on the ring finger, but little on the pinkie. Just a numbness That still persists. This numbness makes it very difficult to grip things tightly and to hold on for a long time. It is very frustrating and I am believing God for healing.

But how do we hold onto words? They are not things that we can grip with our hands or fingers. They are not solid objects that have a handle on them. They fly through the air and land on our ears. If it is a language we understand than we do our best to comprehend what is said. We don’t always get the whole message correct, but we usually do our best. Sometimes we completely misunderstand and get frustrated and upset at the words that have come our way. Words are powerful things.

That old adage that says “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is so wrong. The hurt of words can last a lifetime and can destroy a soul. They can also lift us up and edify us to greater things. They can break our souls or heal our spirits. They can make us believe or they can deceive. James talks a lot about the tongue. He says we should not bless and curse out of the same mouth. He says we are known by what proceeds out of our mouth. Jesus said we will give account for every word we speak. How careful we should be before we let words leave our lips.

Paul tells us to hold fast the sound words that he has spoken in faith and love. He wants us to know and understand everything he has said and then stay with it. Holding fast means that we follow those words, that we live those words. When someone loses their tamper or just gets frustrated beyond control, we tell them to “Get a grip”. When we just can’t seem to understand something, we tell others we just “can’t get a handle on it.” Some times when I ask people how they are doing they say “I am hanging in there.”

We all want to hold fast to something. It is so ingrained in us that we use these cute sayings to demonstrate the fact that we need something to hold onto. We can’t go through life in a freefall with nothing to cling to. There has to be something we can reach out to in times of trouble, something we can grab when we are about to fall. The words of the Bible provide that.

Think about it. When we are in a difficult situation, what is it we can hold onto? John 14:27 says “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” When we have a tough decision to make, we can turn to Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trus in the Liord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct your path.” I can not begin to tell you how many times I held onto that scripture in my life. In times of anxiety, Paul says “be anxious for nothing.” In Philippians 4:6. He tells us God is able to complete the work which He began in us (Philippians 1:6). When we are not sure if we are capable he tells us we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). When we can’t make ends meet, he says “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

These and many more verses are things we can hold onto even in our most desperate times. There is nothing too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:27). Everything we are going through and all that comes our way will work out for our good (Romans 8:28). God loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and He will hear our cry (Jeremiah 33:3). If you’re going through a rough time and don’t know where you should turn, Get a Grip! The Word of God is something you can hold fast and never let go, because it will always be true!

I Know Whom I Have Believed

2 Timothy 1:8-12

8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

AM I as affective a witness as I should be? That is a question I ask myself almost every day. I walk by someone on the local bike trail while walking my dog. Shouldn’t I tell them about Jesus? I see someone in the grocery store. Shouldn’t I ell them about my Savior? The mail man delivers a package. I must tell him about Jesus! Why do I not speak up more often about my Lord?

It’s pride that keeps me from saying more. Pride makes me fear rejection. I want to be loved, or at least liked. What if they just don’t want to hear it or had a bad experience with religious zealots at some time? What if they decide they just won’t come near me anymore if I am going to talk that way. What if they yell, or snub their noses at me? I don’t want to be rejected!

Pride makes me ashamed to speak out about the one who saved my soul. It makes me ashamed to say that I could not do it on my own. It makes me ashamed that I had to have Jesus to take away my troubles. It makes me ashamed to speak out about my Savior and friend. Pride is an evil master!

But I should not be ashamed! I should be willing to endure all these things for His names sake. I should be willing to face persecution, or backbiting, or turning away so-called friends. Those things should not matter to me when it comes to my witness for Jesus Christ. Jesus should have that kind of preeminence in my life that he rises above all else and I am just his humble servant. A humble servant will do the will of his master regardless of the perceived dangers.

And why should I be willing? Look at what He has done for us, for me! He saved me. Saved me from the pit of hell. Saved me from sin and shame. Saved me from pain and misery. Saved me from sorrow and guilt. Saved me from the storm and the waves. Saved me from the trials and tests. Saved me from all my enemies and most importantly saved me from myself. He saved me!

What should I be willing? He called me. He called me to be His disciple, wretched sinner that am. He called me out of darkness into His glorious light. He called me out of the put and set my feet on the rock. He called me out of weakness and gave me His strength. He called me out of ignorance and gave me wisdom and knowledge. He called me out of sin into redemption. He called me away from wandering aimlessly around and gave me a purpose. He called me!

To think that He did all these things according to His purpose and His grace is beyond my ability to comprehend. To think that He had a purpose for me when I was lost in sin, using His name as a curse word, and denying His existence is beyond me. To think that He had a purpose for me when I was an alcoholic, a drug addict, a pervert and a wretched person is beyond me. To think that he would have grace on such a soul as I is beyond me. It just goes to show me how much further I have to travel on this journey to the perfection he calls me to. His grace. His amazing grace that brought me to the cross. His amazing love wrapped up in that grace. I am so undeserving yet He loved me just the same.

Paul says he was appointed to be a preacher, an apostle and a teacher unto the Gentiles. He was appointed by the one who saw that purpose in Him and moved by His grace to bring that purpose to fruition. Paul was a willing vessel, a vessel ready to face any persecution that might come his way. I know that God has appointed me to be a Psalmist, a songwriter, a preacher, a teacher, a worship leader, a writer and a trusted advisor. He has appointed me! The King of Kings and Lord of Lords has appointed me! There is no authority higher than Jesus and he has appointed me! No one can take that away, or dismiss it as worldly, or say it is not so. It is true in every way. The world can mock me and torment me and persecute me but it does not change my appointment. What has he appointed you to do?

You see, I know whom I have believed. I have believed the one who raised the dead, who opened blind eyes and deaf ears., who made the lamb to walk and the leper to be cleansed. I have believed the one who taught the multitudes who the Father was and brought down the religious ruler for not following him. I have believed the one who was beaten and scourged and mocked. I have believed the one who was crucified for my sins and who rose from the dead. That is who I have believed.

And because I believe Him, I am persuaded that He will keep those things that He has committed to me, those appointments He has put into my life. He is able to move me further ion those appointments as I continue to draw closer to Him. He is able to give me the words to write, the melodies to sing, and the avenue to got the words out. He is able to bring the right people along to read or hear the words He has given me. I do not have to worry about a thing. I just need to continue to do as he asks me to do. He will do the rest.

What has God committed into your care? What have you committed to Him? He will keep it all. He will uphold His promise to you as you uphold your promise to Him. The best position we can take is to commit ourselves, in our entirety, to Him. Give Him your all. Don’t hold back. He promises that the more I give, the more He will give. He promises top always be with me and to walk through the valleys with me. He has committed to keeping His promise. I pray we will all keep our promises to Him!

Flee & Pursue

(Note: I found this in my drafts so don’t think I ever published it. If I did, consider this a duplicate challenge.)

1 TIMOTHY 6:9-11

9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

I often wish I was rich. I wish I had enough to pay off all my debt, do the remodeling on my house I have started but never completed, help my daughters get out of debt, give money to friends, families and charities that I hold dear and travel with a new camper. I wish the burden of monthly bills could be automatically deducted because now I can’t rely on the funds being there. I wish my wife could retire and spend her time doing the crafts that she likes and with our dog whom she adores. I wish I did not have to work, but would continue working for the love of the people I am around. I wish I had all I needed and much more to give away.

But for some reason God has decided not to grant me with that particular blessing. He has not given me a keen financial mind that can figure out the stock markets and conjure up wise investment strategies. I have avoided the gambling and lottery world, not wanting to waste the little resources I have on that frivolous stuff. Ever since I was a kid with a paper route and had a candy store as the last stop, I have not been good at saving for a rainy day, or a sunny one for that matter. I never get a car paid off before it goes under and have moved from house to house without ever paying one off. Money is not my strong suit and I am glad!

You might ask me why I am glad about that. It’s not that it wouldn’t be nice to have all that stuff. It would be really nice if I did not have to fret about paying bills month to month. Believe it or not the time that I was the most secure financially was when I was going through cancer! Now that probably sounds really strange. But I was not spending any money on work or travel of other things. I had a lot of money coming in from my Aflac cancer policy and it not only paid all my bills but it bought things that formerly we needed but could not afford, like a new refrigerator and a remodel on part of the inside of our house. We took a deck off the back of the house and used the wood to put a deck on the front, then added a sliding door. We never could have afforded that normally. The money was nice while it lasted and now, we are back to day to day on our money issues. Had we thought about it, we should have saved back some of that money for when times got tough again, but we did not.

That is the danger. Paul says we fall into temptation and a snare. We were tempted to spend it like we would have it forever and it snared us big time. We are now behind in many areas again and are halfway done remodeling our front room with no money in sight to complete it. We got caught up in snare of having extra money to spend and did not do well while we were there. It did not destroy us, and we did not go the route of perdition, but we fell in love with having that money and didn’t realize that instead it had us! It had us always wanting more, always lusting after more. Our hearts never seemed to be full because the things we really wanted were just out of reach. Our needs were easily met, yet that was not enough. There had to be more.

All the while, we neglected to pay our tithes even though we had the money to do it. We just did not. Our faith waned and our pocketbook shrank back down. As I got healthier and my treatments came to an end, the stark reality set in that I would be losing a large chunk of money every month since there would be no Aflac money. I was not yet in a position to get back to full time work so we scrimped and cut back to make ends meet. And it is still a struggle. That taste of having enough and a little more was fun while it lasted, but when I look back, I wish it had not happened. The hole we are in is deeper now than it was when we started. In a way I’m glad because it gives me even more reason to work hard. But that empty feeling of not having enough is always in the back of my mind. Will we ever get over the hump?
So now I set a different course. I flee those things that gave us luxury (at least luxury in our minds) and I pursue the things of God. I pursue the things that Paul lists here with all my vigor, Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. These things will get me farther than money ever will. These attributes will keep my heart and mind without all the trappings of life. They will keep me from getting prideful and forgetting who it is that supplies my every need. They will bring me closer to God that to the things of this world. I will not be needy because I will not need as much. I will not be as prideful because I don’t have more than others around me, I must pursue these things because I do not have the will power to avoid the trappings of wealth.

A rich man once came to Jesus and asked Him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to obey the commandments and he said he had done so from his youth. Jesus then told him to sell all that he had and give it to the poor and he would inherit eternal life. The rich man bowed his head and left. He could not part with his riches. He loved them more than his desire to inherit eternal life. I never want to be in that rich man’s shoes. With as little as I have it would be easy to leave it all behind. But if I was wealthy it would be difficult to say goodbye to this life of luxury and follow Jesus. I don’t want to have to make that choice. I just want to follow Him, so I will flee riches and pursue righteousness, just as Paul says we should all do. What about you?