“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”
I Timothy 6:11
In our text, Paul admonishes Timothy to “flee these things.” The words mean exactly what we would think they mean. There are some things from which we need to run. There are things that are so dangerous that we need to distance ourselves from them. In the verses prior to this, Paul had been writing Timothy about several areas of concern. He talked about the dangerous doctrine of prosperity that claims that “gain is godliness” (I Timothy 6:5). He mentioned the snare of obsession with material wealth and the love of money. He warned Timothy to “flee these things.”
Many people are trapped by a love for the things of the world. This love can surely lead to spiritual ruin. These dangers are real for all, including the preacher. More than a few men of God have been disqualified or distracted from the ministry because of the lure of financial gain. Hosts of godly fathers and husbands have found spiritual bankruptcy because of the attraction of materialism. Money is an important part of our lives, and we all need to provide for our families and loved ones. But money is not the goal in life. A man’s life cannot be measured by the amount of wealth that he has. Possessions cannot bring peace of mind and happiness.
Paul not only warned Timothy to flee certain things, but he also encouraged him to “follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” These are the things that we should be pursuing with our time and energy. We need money, but godliness is more valuable. Generally speaking, when a person has the accumulation of wealth as his primary interest, he becomes less concerned with his spiritual growth and the things of God. Building character is more important than building assets.
It is not wrong to have things and it is not a sin to be wealthy. One of the ways God uses people to support His work is through their tithes and offerings. It is a blessing to see someone who has achieved financial prosperity use his resources for the glory of God. But, we should always remember the goal in life is not to become rich for the sake of riches alone. The real goal in our lives should be to become more Christ-like, to develop spiritual maturity, and to increase in godliness and Christian virtues.