1 & 2 Timothy - Lesson 7

By John Harrison

The Profitability of Contentment

(1st Timothy 6:1-21)

Objectives: By the end of this session the learner will be able to:

  1. Explain the spiritual benefits of contentment.
  2. List different types of temptations into which greed can lead us.

Teaching Aids and Materials:

  1. Easy to understand Bibles for every student (CEV, RSV, NAV, NIV, NRSV, etc.).
  2. A marker board and/or chalkboard.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (5-8 minutes)

  1. Begin class by welcoming members and any visitors; make all necessary class announcements.
  2. Have the class led in prayer. The prayer should include a request that God lead the class into a godly contentment and to forgive us for any greed.
  3. Review assignment from last week's lesson.
  4. Explain to the class that in today's lesson they will learn the following three items:
    1. False teachers are interested in profit not godliness.
    2. Contentment promotes godliness while greed leads to evil.
    3. A person dedicated to God profits from better things.

Learning Experiences: (30 minutes)

Part I: False teachers are interested in profit not godliness.

Have someone read 1st Timothy 6:3-5

Q: There are people who teach false ideas that are contrary to the words of theLord Jesus Christ. Some do so believing genuinely and sincerely that what they are teaching is the truth. But others teach what is false because they know that they will be supported financially for doing so. How can Christians tell the difference between teachers who are simply misguided and the ones who intentionally teach what is false for money?A: Several different answers could be given. Be sure to respond appreciatively and constructively to each response.

Part II: Contentment promotes godliness while greed leads to evil.

Have someone read 1st Timothy 6:6-10 and 17-19

Q: What do you see are the spiritual benefits of contentment?

A: One of the spiritual benefits of being content is that it allows the person to be less distracted by wanting more stuff and instead to focus on what really endures,such as righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, and love (see verse 11).

Q: How does such contentment help us in the struggles of life?

A: Even in difficulties and hardships, we are able to find contentment by looking to eternal values.

Q: In verse 9 Paul warns those who want to be rich that desiring riches can lead them to "stumble" into temptation. What kinds of temptation does greed lead to?Can you illustrate this with an example? [Teacher's Note: It might be worth pointing out to the class that in the Bible, the metaphor of stumbling is often connected to the sin of idolatry. Paul could be suggesting that greedy people end up destroying their spiritual life by becoming idolatrous.]

A: The class should be able to give several examples of the kinds of temptation greed will lead to. One common temptation related to greed is the temptation to be dishonest in order to obtain wealth. Paul probably had in mind the experience of many who pursue wealth, only blur the distinctions between what is moral and immoral, and engage in an opulent lifestyle, and neglect the needs of the poor.

Q: Paul makes the statement that "the love of money is a root of all evils" or "all kinds of evil." Is this example of hyperbole (and thus be translated "the love of money is the root of all evils") or is Paul merely saying the love of money is just one cause of all evils?

A: Some people might interpret Paul's words by claiming he means that the love of money is one cause of all evils, but it is more likely that Paul is quoting a popular proverb and the nature of most proverbs is to speak in general terms (such assaying "all evils"). Thus, the saying could be legitimately be translated as "the love of money is the root of all evils" and remember that Paul is speaking hyperbolically.

Q: What are some evil behaviors which might spring from the love of money?

A: Jealousy, lying, hatred, covetousness, selfishness, etc.

Q: How can we avoid loving money?

A: Keeping our focus on spiritual things, measuring success more by spiritual progress than by financial progress.

Part III: A person dedicated to God profits from better things.

Have someone read 1st Timothy 6:11-16.

Q: In verse 12 Paul compares living out one's Christian faith to competing well in an athletic event (such as a running race or boxing). In what ways do you see living as a Christian is similar to participating well in a competitive sport?

A: It requires discipline, sacrifice, and training; there is often a prize, honor, or recognition given to the winner; and athletes usually depend on experienced coaches to help prepare them to compete.

Application: (5 minutes)

One thing we talked about today was the greed we demonstrate in the amount of possessions we accumulate. Ask the class to share about things we accumulate that might show a tendency toward being greedy: clothing, shoes, cars, etc.

Lead a prayer asking God to guide us to find contentment in him and not in our possessions.

Assignment: (2 minutes)

Take one closet or a part of your garage this week and go through the items seeing what you can give to charity.

Lesson Wrap Up: (5 minutes)

In this lesson we learned that contentment allows us to focus our attention on enduring attributes such as righteousness, godliness, faithfulness and love.

We also learned that greed leads to all kinds of temptations, which in the end are simply various forms of idolatry.

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