November 11, 2021
Laity, Church Street United Methodist Church
Tennessee Valley District
I Timothy 6:11-21 (NIV)
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 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. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
Final Charge to Timothy
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.
Grace be with you all.
I Timothy is a tiny book in the Bible, but it packs a big punch. Its biggest claim to fame might be the origination of the phrase, “fight the good fight,” which appears in chapter 6 and is then repeated in 2 Timothy. But it is more than a phrase that remains popular today; it’s a lesson in living a good life that Paul imparts in a letter to Timothy, a long-time friend whom Paul looks upon as a son. Paul is urging Timothy to remain where he is, in Ephesus, to prevent the spread of wrong doctrine or, as we might call it today, “misinformation.” Paul doesn’t want to lose the ground they’ve gained in Ephesus, and he encourages Timothy to keep his position of leadership there, “without spot or blame.” Paul warns his young friend to be prepared because some people will depart from the faith and profess false versions of knowledge. Paul also advises Timothy to avoid those who believe that “godliness is a means for gain.”
The Good Fight
Instead, Paul tells Timothy to stay in Ephesus to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness” and to honor God by “fighting the good fight of faith.”
We all know how life is when we’re in a new or unfamiliar place. It’s easy to get anxious, unsure, and a little disoriented when far away from all that’s familiar. No doubt Timothy had some of those same feelings, and perhaps Paul knew that Timothy was in a tough situation. Paul needed him to keep it together in Ephesus. So he did what any parent or adoptive parent would do. He sat down and wrote a letter reminding Timothy about how to move forward – by “taking hold of the eternal life to which you were called,” to command those with money to not “put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain” but to “be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share,” to turn away from “godless chatter and false knowledge.”
I think Paul is onto something! We could all do worse than to listen to his advice, whether at home or away. When the outside world gets us down or we’re feeling shaky in our faith, we would do well to turn to I Timothy and refresh ourselves on Paul’s instructions for “fighting the good fight.”