Fearless and Free During Economic Storms II

Note: This is the second of six small group studies that are coordinated with a sermon series by Dean Barham, the preaching minister at the Woodmont Family of God. Eventually, his sermons will be available here. The first small group study lesson is here.

Free From Greed, Free to Share
1 Timothy 6:2b-19

Free From Greed

There are those who love money so much that they think “godliness is a means to financial gain,” but “godliness with contentment is great gain.” Greed distorts what is really important; it perverts the pursuit of godliness into a financial adventure. The love of money corrupts everything it touches.

The love of money—the idolatry of money—is expressed in a desire to “get rich” which is the flip side of a lack of contentment. “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

The pursuit of wealth without contentment results in “many griefs” because that agenda is a “trap” that leads to “ruin and destruction.” It blinds and ensnares us. Wealth without contentment is sinking sand whereas generosity is a “firm foundation.”

Free to Share

The freedom to share is nurtured by the development of a character that pursues “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” Formed by these virtues disciples are “generous and willing to share.”

The pursuit of wealth without sharing is arrogance and trusts wealth rather than God. Stinginess, the inability to share, indicates stunted spiritual growth; it is ungodliness—to be unlike God himself.

The wealthy are commanded “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” To “do good” is a Jewish expression for benevolence as in, for example, James 4:17: “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” The heart of the wealthy is tested by whether it shares or not, whether it can be generous like God.

Godliness the Key

Godliness—living as God’s partner in the present age—frees us from greed so that we are free to share. This freedom is the “treasure” that offers a “firm foundation for the coming age.” This “treasure” enables us to “take hold of the life that is truly life.”

Contentment, character and charitableness are intimately woven together in the freedom of godliness. Dissatisfaction, arrogance and miserliness are intimately woven together in the snare of greed.

Greed enslaves but godliness liberates, and when godliness liberates, we become generous people just as God himself is generous with us in providing “us with everything for our enjoyment.”

Questions for Discussion

  1. What are some of the characteristics of those who use godliness for “financial gain”? What are some of the characteristics of a godly person? What does this text say about who God is?
  2. Given 1 Timothy 6:17-19, what “sermon” would you share with the “rich”? Do you sense a measure of discomfort with that sermon? Why?
  3. Why is the pursuit of wealth a snare? What makes it a snare? Is there a pursuit of wealth that is not a snare? Why do you think so? Why are human beings so susceptible to this snare?
  4. How do we know whether we are “loving money” or not? What “tests” or “questions” can we apply to ourselves to discern this in our character?
  5. What does contentment mean? What does it look like in our lives?
  6. As wealthy Americans, do we find ourselves defensive when it comes to how we use our wealth? If so, why?

7 Responses to “Fearless and Free During Economic Storms II”

  1.   preacherman Says:

    I think that greed is something from which every believer struggles. Greed is something that controls and dominates our thoughts. It isn’t necessarily all about money. I think we find, truely find contentment when we surrender our lives over to God. I know that when I totally surrendered to God I felt a peace and contentment I had never felt before in my life. Yes, I have struggles with my health, pain, money, being the father I need to be but I have contentment that God is in control and is going to take care of my life. I realize that it is no longer I but Christ and that in him and only in him I find the contentment or “the peace that surpasses all understanding.” Thank you brother for this great post. I enjoy reading your blog. It is my prayer that more and more believers will find the freedom that is found in Christ. I also pray that many other believers find your blog because I personally have been encouraged and uplifted through it. Keep up the great work you do here brother and hope you have a fantastic weekend.

  2.   Howard Holmes Says:

    I’ll make a stab at discussion question number two. It seems the theme of the suggested sermon in 17-19 is that while seeking pleasure and wealth is acceptable it is wise to seek it where it can most be found. For instance, the writer appeals to the reader’s desires to have enjoyment and to have treasures, but he says to seek these from God who can provide every joy and to invest in the coming age where one can have even more treasures.

    The discomfort I find is that he seems not to be addressing the real issue. Is not the problem with greed the “wanting more?” Yet the writer not only accepts that wanting more is OK, he is even giving instructions on how to get the most.

    This message seems to not be in keeping with his earlier encouragement to be content. The lie of the love of money is that having more can bring more happiness. Appealing to man’s greed is the same thing Jesus did in suggesting we lay up treasures in heaven. Laying up treasures (seeking wealth) is the same animal no matter which bank we choose.

  3.   rich constant Says:

    john mark
    i work on peoples houses,as you know.
    there is a writer in Newport beach ca.
    one of his houses, (one of three in a radius of say 10 miles.)is 45,000 sq. ft. forty five thou.
    now then
    where do we start the standard of judgement for greed..
    remind es me of a led zep. song your time is gonna come…
    i know it is a matter of the hart

  4.   Howard Holmes Says:

    The typical American home is 3-4 bedrooms with a couple of living areas (at least). This is even when there are only two people. Typically there is one area where all the living is done. The rest are entered mostly to clean (by the maid?). If two people occupy a house and sleep in the same bed, a one bedroom unit with one living area is ample. Better still are single room containing seating area and a sleeping area works just fine. A studio type arrangement for two is more than enough. The typical American could cut his consumption by a factor of 10 and still out consume the average world citizen. We are not even close to discussing what we really need (cf. Walden, chpt one).

    Decisions about consumption are generally based on what we have available to consume. We consume it all. We stop when we reach the limit of the credit cards.

  5.   Terrell Lee Says:

    John Mark,
    Would we have your permission to use your small group lessons in our churches’ group ministries?

  6.   John Mark Hicks Says:

    Yes, Terrell…of course! 🙂 As far as I am concerned, anything on my website may be used in such settings.

  7.   nick gill Says:

    If “wanting more” was the real issue, the teaching would be completely different.

    We would be wrong to “want more” holiness. We would be wrong to “want more” peace. We would be wrong to “want more” love.

    No, the real problem is not “wanting more” but wanting things that will not satisfy (Jn 4, Jn 6).

    “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

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