Being Responsible

                                             I Timothy 5:1-8, 17-21

                                                  June 30, 2019

 

 

 

 

Today we consider the second of the four, and we will read the text

again, “Bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all

things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to

come.” In the days when Paul wrote this epistle, the Greeks and others

paid great attention to physical culture, the development of the muscles,

the proportion of the limbs, the production of everything in the body which

might conduce to the soundness of manhood. The philosophy of Greece all

thought that way, and hence hardships of various bodily exercises of an

athletic and even violent kind were undergone by men with the view of

developing the body, and so assisting the soul.

 

The passage might be read thus: “Bodily exercise verily profiteth a little,” or thus,

“Bodily exercise profiteth for a short time.” Physical training is of some service;

attention to it is not sinful nor to be condemned; it is of some use and has its

proper place, but still it has no very eminent position in the Christian system,

it occupies a place far in the background in the teaching of Christ and His apostles;

it is but a minor part of a complete education. It profiteth a little, a little, for a

little time; but godliness, the worship of God, the fear of God, hath a long and

wealthy entail of blessing, having the promise both of the life that now is

and of that which is to come; its profiting is not little but great; its benefit is

not confined to the body, but is shared by the body and the soul, it is not

limited by this mortal life, but overleaps the grave and brings its largest

revenue of profit in the world where graves are all unknown.

 

Take an athletic man, the most perfect specimen of athletic training,

bone flesh and sinew, if that is all, he is but 1/3 of a man and useless to society;

 

Send him to the schools and cram his mind full, he is but 2/3 of a man and

dangerous as well as useless. 

 

Put Christ in his heart to control and urge his purpose and you have AN IDEAL MAN!

 

 

This morning I am about to try and speak upon the profit of godliness to a

man in this life. We will consider its having the promise of the life to come,

in the evening, if God spare us.

 

I Timothy ch. 4 vs. 8-9 – Spurgeon Sermon – THE PROFIT OF GODLINESS IN

THIS LIFE.     Delivered Sunday morning, June 19, 1870

 

I Timothy ch. 4  v. 8 – Spurgeon Sermon – THE PROFIT OF GODLINESS IN

THE LIFE TO COME.  Delivered Sunday evening, June 19, 1870

 

 

 

With regard to this life, let it be remarked that the religion of our Lord

Jesus Christ neither undervalues nor overvalues this present life. It does not

sneer at this life as though it were nothing; on the contrary, it ennobles it,

and shows the relation which it has to the higher and eternal life. It does

not overvalue it by making this life, and the secular pursuits of it, the main

object of any man it puts it into an honorable but yet a secondary place,

and saith to the sons of men, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his

righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  (Matthew 6:33)

It is not, however, very easy to keep to the middle point of exact truth as to a due

estimate of this present life: he who does so is taught of God. There are

many who undervalue this life, let me mention some of them to you. Those

undervalue it who sacrifice it to indulge their passions, or to gratify their

appetites. Too many for the sake of momentary gratifications, have

shortened their lives, and rendered their latter end bitterly painful to

themselves. They conceived that the pleasures of the flesh were better than

life; they were mistaken in their estimate; they made but a poor exchange

when they chose lust and death, rather than purity and life. The drunkard

has been known to take his cups, though he knew that in so doing he was

virtually poisoning himself. The man of hot passions has been seen to

plunge into uncleanness, though the consequences of his folly have been

plainly set before him. Men who for a morsel of meat, or a flash of

merriment, are selling this world as well as the world to come, are fools

indeed. He that would have pleasure must not pursue it too furiously.

Temperance is the rule here; moderation and the use, not excess and the

abuse, will secure to us the pleasure even of this mortal life. Value not, I

pray you, the transient joys which the animal appetites can bring to you; at

least value them not so much as to shorten life for their sakes.

 

Some evidently undervalue their lives, because they make them wretched

through envy. Others are richer than they are, and they think it a miserable

thing to be alive at all while others possess more of this world’s goods than

they. They walk, they say, and toil, while yonder person, who has no more

deserts than they, is riding in his chariot; so, forsooth, they count the

chariot the main thing and not the life, and they will not enjoy their life

because they cannot have a certain coveted addition which another

possesses. Haman is not grateful for all the mercies of life while unbending

Mordecai sits in the king’s gate; he counts his honey to be bitterness

because he cannot lord it at his will. God gets no thankfulness at all from

the man for the innumerable mercies which he has; these are nothing, he

pines for some particular supposed mercy which he has not; he considers

that the fact of his being alive, and being favored of God in many respects,

is nothing at all to be considered, because he has not all that big avarice

might wish for. O poison not life by the envy of others, for if you do so you

miserably undervalue it!

 

The slaves of avarice undervalue their lives, for they do not care to make

life happy, but pinch themselves in order to accumulate wealth. The miser

who starves himself in order that he may fill his bags may well be reasoned

with in this way: “Is not the life more than the meat, and the body than

raiment? Skin for skin, yea, all that other men have will they give for their

lives; but you give your life for this pelf (money gained in a dishonest or

dishonorable way) , this glittering dust. You are willing to forego all the

enjoyments that this life might afford you, that you may have a heap to leave to

your uncertain heirs, who will probably squander it, and certainly forget the hands

that scraped the hoard together.” (“.....he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not

who shall gather them.” – Psalm 39:6)   Why should I throw away myself for the

sake of dying rich? Is it true success in life to have enjoyed nothing, to have

poisoned all my existence, merely that the world might be informed in a corner

of the Illustrated News that I died worth so many thousands of pounds? This is to

undervalue life indeed.

 

Holy Scripture never teaches us to undervalue our own lives. He that

said, “Thou shalt not kill,” meant that we were not to kill ourselves any

more than others. We ought to seek by all we can do in the surroundings of

our habitations, by our cleanliness, by carefully observing sanitary laws, by

never encouraging dangerous exhibitions, and by every other means to

show our care of the life that now is, for it is a precious thing.

Yet, my brethren, there can be such a thing as overvaluing this life, and

multitudes have fallen into that error. Those overvalue it who prefer it to

eternal life. Why, it is but as a drop compared with the ocean, if you

measure time with eternity. Seventy or eighty years of dwelling here below,

what are they when compared with infinite ages of existence in the

presence of the Most High? “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present

time are not not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be

revealed in us.”  (Romans 8:18)   “For our light affliction, which is but

for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of

glory; While we look not on things that are seen, but at the things which

are not seen:  for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things

which are not seen are eternal.”  II Corinthians 4:17-18)  When men in

fearful moments have denied the faith for the sake of saving their lives,

they have overvalued this life; when to preserve themselves from the

sword, or the fire, or the tortures of the rack, they have denied the name of

Jesus, they have made a mistake and exchanged gold for dross. Alas, how

many of us, in like condition, might have fallen into the same error!

They overvalue this life who consider it to be a better thing than divine

love, for the love of God is better than life — his lovingkindness is better

than life itself. (Psalm 63:3)  Some would give anything for their lives, but they

would give nothing for God’s love. If their lives were in danger, they would

hasten to the physician, but though they enjoy not the love of God they yet

sit at ease, and seek not the priceless boon. They who feel aright think it a

cheap thing to die, but an awful thing to live apart from God; they

recognize that life would be but death, unless God were with us, and that

death itself is but the vestibule of life while God is our joy and our

strength! Let us never set the present life before divine love, and never let

it be compared even for a moment with the pursuit of God’s glory. Every

Christian man is to feel that he is to take care of his life in comparison with

any earthly glory; but if it comes to a choice between God’s glory and his

life, he is to have no timorous hesitation in the matter, but at once to

sacrifice his life freely at his Lord’s altar. This has been ever the spirit of

true Christians. They have never been anxious to die, nor have they been

fearful concerning the loss of life. They have not thrown away their lives,

they have known their value too well, but they have not withheld their lives

for Christ’s sake, for they have esteemed him to be better than life itself. So

you see the Scripture teaches us that there is a proper middle course in

estimating this present life, and if we follow its instructions, we shall

neither undervalue nor overvalue it.

 

It appears from the text, that godliness influences this present life, puts it in

its true position, and becomes profitable to it.

 

 

__________________________________________________________________

 

WE endeavored, this morning, to prove the profitableness of godliness as

to the life which now is, and to discriminate as to what the promise of this

life really is. We tried to prove that “the promise” of the life that now is, its

real and highest beauty and excellence, consists in peace of mind, peace

with God, contentment, and happiness of spirit; and while we pointed out

that godliness did not ensure wealth, or health, or even a good name — for

all these even to godly men might not be granted — yet we showed that

the great end of our being, that for which we live and were created, that

which will best make it worth while to have existed, shall certainly be ours

if we are godly. We did not think it an unimportant matter to expound the

bearing of true religion upon this present state, but I trust we did not

exaggerate that view so as to keep those in countenance who dream that

this world is the main consideration, and that the wisest man is he who

makes it the be-all and the end-all of his existence.

 

Beloved friends, there is another life beyond this fleeting existence. This

fact was dimly guessed by heathens: Strange as their mythology might be,

and singular as were their speculations as to the regions of bliss and woe,

even barbarous nations have had some glimmering light concerning a

region beyond the river of death. Hardly yet have we been able to discover

a people with no idea of an after-state. Man has scarcely ever been

befooled into the belief that death is the conclusion of the volume of his existence.

Few indeed have been so lost to natural light as to have forgotten that man

is something more than the dog which follows at his heel. That which was

dimly guessed by the heathen was more fully wrought out by the bolder

and clearer minds among philosophers. They saw something about man

that made him more than either ox or horse. They marked the moral

government of God in the world, and as they saw the wicked prosper, and

the righteous afflicted, they said, “There must be another state in which the

GREAT AND JUST ONE will rectify all these wrongs — reward the

righteous, and condemn the wicked.” They thought it proved that there

would be another life; they could not, however, speak with confidence; for

reason, however right her inferences, does not content the heart, or give

the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” That is

reserved for faith. The best light of heathens was but twilight, yet was there

so much light in their obscurity that they looked beyond the stream of

death, and thought they saw shades as of creatures that had once been

here, and could not die. What was thus surmised and suspected by the

great thinkers of antiquity, has been brought to light in the gospel of Jesus

Christ. He has declared to us that we shall live again, that there will be a

judgment and a resurrection both of the righteous and of the wicked, and

that there will be awarded to the righteous a reward that shall know no

end, while the wicked shall be driven into a banishment to which there shall

be no close. We are not left now to speculate nor to rely upon unaided

reason. We have been told upon the authority of God, sometimes by the

lips of prophets, at other times by the lips of his own dear Son, or by his

inspired apostles, that there is a world to come, a world of terrors to the

ungodly, but a world of promised blessing to the righteous. My dear

hearer, if it be so, what will the world to come be to you? Will you inherit

its promise? You may easily answer that question by another — Have you

godliness? If you have, you have the promise of the life that is to come.

Are you ungodly? Do you live without God? Are you without faith in God,

without love to God, without reverence to God? Are you without the

pardon which God presents to believers in Christ Jesus? Then are you

without hope, and the world to come has nothing for you but a fearful

looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation which will devour you.

 

“Rebuke not an elder.” Comprehensive indeed is Scripture. Its virtue is no

vague generality, but is definite and distinct. It is this which makes the

Bible a daily portion. There is ever in it some special counsel and comfort.

With the cross for a center, all the precious jewels of truth are set in their

places around it. For each relationship of life there are separate behests of

duty, and he must read in vain who does not feel that it was written for

him. With this light none need go astray; and if they do, it is because they

love the darkness rather than the light.  (John 3:16-21)

 

                                    Sympathy with Widows (v. 3)

 

“Honor widows.” Let them have a special place in reverent care and

common prayer, as they have a lot which is so isolated and so hard — a

battle so keen and terrible, and as they find that the slender means are so

soon spent. The lonely hours are full of pictures of the past: as wives they

were the first to be thought of and provided for — the best was for them,

the first place at the table and in the heart was theirs; so honor them, for

they are sensitive to slight and indifference. Let the Church counteract the

neglect of the world.

 

·         THE SPIRIT OF CHILDREN. If they have children, or, as sometimes

happens, nephews — or sister’s children — who lost their mother in life’s

dawn of morning, let them show piety at home:

 

Ø      the piety of gratitude,

Ø      the piety of help,

Ø      the piety of reverence,

Ø      the piety of requital.

 

            How large a word “piety” is! An ungrateful child, who never thinks on a

            parent’s past self-denial in its education, a parent’s watchfulness in times

            of weakness and sickness, a parent’s interest in its pleasures and counsels

            as to its companionships, and a parent’s long interest in all that relates to

            mind and heart, is an impious child. Quick, clever, it may be flattered by

            new friends, and favored by fortune with pleasant looks, and yet be:

 

Ø      selfish,

Ø      indifferent, and

Ø      forgetful.

 

·         THE REQUITAL TO BE GIVEN. Remember, young friends, that you

have to requite your parents, not with the patronage of commercial

payment when you succeed, but with the requital of:

 

·       the tender inquiry,

·       the watchful love,

·       the jealous service,

·       the gracious respect.

 

 

                                                Desolateness (v. 5)

 

“Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate.” Here the apostle returns

to widows again, showing that he has them very much in his mind.

 

·         DESOLATE. That is the revealing word. “Desolate.” She may be poor

and desolate, or she may he competent and desolate, or she may be rich

and desolate — all surrounding things making her feel more the loss of that

which is not; all framing “emptiness;” all but reminders of the presence

which gave value to them all.

 

·         DESOLATE; FOR THE LIFE-PATH IS AND MUST BE TRODDEN

ALONE. The wakeful hours find her alone; the hours when pain and

weariness come to her find her alone; for the difficult problem of thought

has none to aid in its solution now — she is alone. So desolate; for other

fellowships are not for life; they only help to vary her life. Desolate; for

none can quite understand her care and grief, and think that she will soon

            put them, off with the weeds and crape.

 

 

 

                                    Confidence in the Father (v. 5)

 

“Trusteth in God.” Let Timothy remember that in her case experience has

ratified truth. She will need no elaborate arguments for the truth, because:

 

·         SHE HAS THE EVIDENTIAL PROOF WITHIN. Did she not in the

dark hours fling her arms around her Father’s neck; did she not tell him

that she would fear no want, though she felt such change? Did not that

trust — simple trust — do her more good than all human words, all kindly

letters, all change of place and scene? Others wondered at her, rising up in

her poor strength to arrange, to order, to re-adjust life to means and

circumstances, to do her best for the little flock that she was shepherdess

to in the wilderness.

 

·         SHE HAS THE FELLOWSHIP OF PRAYER. Yes, O man of the

world, O scorner of truth, O soft-spoken atheist, she prays! Makes the air

quiver, yon say. Hears the echo of her own cry, you say. Bends before an

empty throne, you say. It may be you, have you never felt the need for God

as she needs Him now. Her need is an instinct and an argument; for somehow

in this world there is A DIVINE REVEALING, call it what you like, that

satisfies the desire of every living thing. And she has prayed, and the secret

of the Lord has been made known; and that it is no empty experience, is now

to be proven in this way.

 

·         SHE REVEALS ITS POWER BY HER PERSEVERANCE IN IT.

She continueth in prayers and supplications night and day.” Then there

must be relief. The burden must be lighter, the load must be easier, the

vision must be clearer. None of us continue in that which mocks us. The

invisible world is as real as the visible one. We know when there is a

whisper within us and an arm around us, and so does she. Surely you

would not rob her of her only wealth — her trust. But you cannot. Night

and day.” Mark that. She finds in the night an image of her grief. She finds

in the night silence. The children, if any, are asleep. She whose tears have

watered her couch, whose hand has reached forth into the empty space,

whose every movement would once have awakened solicitude, as of pain,

or weariness, or sleeplessness, is now alone. But not alone; for the lips

move and a great cry goes up: “O God, be not far from me! Listen to the

voice of my cry, my King and my God. My heart within me is desolate.

Hear me out of thy habitation, thou Father of the fatherless, thou Judge of

the widow. I mourn in my complaint and make a noise. Oh, when wilt thou

come to me?”  (various Psalms:  71:12; 5:2; 143:4; 68:5; 55:2; 101:2) 

And God does come; and it may help Timothy to know that

this gospel which he has to preach is a Divine living seed, bearing its

harvests in the hearts and homes of the elders and of the widows. We shall

see in our next exposition that Paul knows that there are worldly hearts

to whom affliction brings no gracious fruit; and if there be a sight on earth

more appalling than another, it is the frivolous widow whose very

mourning is a pride and a study, whose manner is that of a pleasure-seeker,

and whose heart is unaffected by the reverences of the memories of love

and death. It is very evident that the gospel which Timothy was to teach

and preach was no mere creed, no mere perfect ritual or ceremonial, but a

religion human and Divine, a religion that anticipates the changes and

sorrows and dangers of every individual life. This Book is a vade-mecum.

(a handbook or guide that is kept constantly at hand for consultation). Here we go for all

the medicines of relief and hope that our poor humanity needs. (The Great

Spiritual Medicine Cabinet of Life – CY – 2019)  We shall never outgrow

THE BOOK!   Its leaves are still for the healing of the nations (on this

earth as the Tree of Life is in heaven  - Revelation 22:2 – CY – 2019),

and it makes life calm, restful, and beautiful. How comes it that we

have known the sweetest angels in such guises as these afflictions

and bereavements bring? Yet so it is. Where shall we go? Oh, life has many

roads; bandits and  robbers lurk here and there, and there are swollen rivers

to be forded, and dangerous passes to be entered. How shall we go? With this

rod and staff WE MAY GO ANYWHERE! If we take a fable, let it be the

ancient stone: if you look therein, strange transformations take place — you

ask me what I see?

 

o       Now a sword; now a mountain;

o       now a simple loaf of bread;

o       now a touchstone of evil and of good;

o       now a rock high above the waters;

o       now a pilot on a dangerous sea;

o       now a pillar rising on the plain of time;

o       now a harp from which sweetest music breathes;

o       now a pillow — a simple pillow.  (Even for me – CY – 2019)

 

 Cowper puts aside his own ‘Task’ and takes God’s Testament; so

will we. On these promises of God we will fall asleep.

 

 

 

15 “For some are already turned aside after Satan.”  Some. This is

generally understood of some widows who had already given occasion to

the adversary to speak reproachfully, by turning aside from the path of

Christian virtue which they had begun to walk in, and following Satan who

had beguiled them into the path of vice and folly. But the words are

capable of another meaning, equally arising from the preceding verse, viz.

that some have already followed the example of Satan, “the accuser of the

brethren,” and have begun to revile Christianity, taking occasion from the

conduct of some who were called Christians. These revilers might be not

unbelieving Jews or heathen, but apostate or heretical Jews like those of

whom the same verb (ἐκτρέπεσθαι – ektrepesthai – were turned aside)

is used in ch.1:6 and II Timothy 4:4. In something of the same spirit Paul called

Elymas the sorcerer “a child of the devil,” because he sought to turn away

Sergius Paulus from the faith, probably by speaking evil of Barnabas and Saul.

(Acts 13:4-12).

 

 

                                                            (v. 23)

 

·         TIMOTHY CAUTIONED. “Be no longer a drinker of water, but use

a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” Paley

makes a point of the want of connection. “The direction stands between

two sentences, as wide from the subject as possible.” He, however, puts

more upon this than it will bear. There is a certain Epistolary negligence,

but there is connection. It occurs to the apostle that the command to keep

himself pure might be too strictly interpreted by Timothy. He was not to be

regarded as enjoining the utmost abstinence on him. On the contrary, his

opinion was that Timothy was abstinent beyond what his health demanded.

He was a drinker of water, i.e. accustomed to the exclusive use of water as

a drink. Whatever his reasons for adopting this course, it was too rigorous

for him. He needed a little wine for his stomach’s sake and his often

infirmities. This is not certainly to be construed into a license for the

unlimited use of wine. He is only recommended the use of a little wine.

And the very reason which is given for its use is against its use where the

same reason does not exist. It is only too obvious that alcohol is

destructive to the stomach, and the fruitful cause of infirmities. It is

destructive to the brain as well as to the stomach. “There is quite a marked

type of mental degeneration which may result from continuous drinking

during ten years without one instance of drunkenness. We have, as a

statistical fact, that from fifteen to twenty per cent of the actual insanity of

the country is produced by alcohol.”  (Does one think that the knowledge of

smoking causing cancer deters from its use?  Smoking may not cause insanity

but some would think it insane to acquire lung cancer by not heeding the

warning!  CY – 2019)  In the name of health, then, its use is to be feared; but,

where health demands the use of wine, it is a sin not to use it. For the servant

of the Lord must have his strength of body at a maximum for him.

 

 

·         A POINT TO BE CONSIDERED IN THE JUDGING OF MEN

FOR OFFICE. “Some men’s sins are evident, going before unto judgment;

and some men also they follow after. In like manner also there are good

works that are evident; and such as are otherwise cannot be hid.” Present

judging has a look forward to future judging. To future judgment all

actions, bad and good, are regarded as going forward. But there is a

difference, both in the case of bad actions and of good actions.

 

Ø      Some men’s sins are notorious; and, as heralds, go before them to

      judgment, proclaiming their condemnation. With regard to such,

      judging for office is an easy matter.

 

Ø      But it is not so with others. “Their sins are first known after

            and by the judgment, not known beforehand like the first named.

            In regard to those whose character is not yet clear, circumspection

            in our judgment cannot be too strongly urged.”

 

The same difference applies to good works.  Some are as clear as noonday;

and therefore there can be no hesitation in regard to the doers of them.

There are, however, other good works which are not thus clear; these

cannot be hid longer than THE JUDGMENT!   In view of the discovery

of good deeds at present unknown, we cannot be too circumspect in our

judgment of men, lest by our hastiness we do injury to any.

 

            Rest assured that “....God shall bring every work into judgment, with every

            secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil”  (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

            and Jesus said “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed;

            neither hid, that shall not be known.  Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken

            in darkness shall be  heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in

            the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the mountain tops.”  (Luke 12:2-3)

 

 

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