The Message, September 25, 2022: "Pursue Righteousness," 1 Timothy 6:6-19

The Message, September 25, 2022: "Pursue Righteousness," 1 Timothy 6:6-19

Author: Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
September 27, 2022


“Pursue Righteousness”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
1 Timothy 6:6-19

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Anyone that grew up in the United States … and likely many of those who did not … are familiar with those words. We grew up reciting them. We learned them in our U.S. History Class or our Civics Class. These are among the opening words from our Declaration of Independence, and they are foundational words for us as a country. We are especially fond of the final three words … the “pursuit of happiness.”

Over the last two hundred years, we have gotten pretty good at the pursuit of happiness. Well … some of us have.

What does the pursuit of happiness look like? How is it made manifest in our lives and in our country? It varies for different people.

For some, the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of objects … toys, gadgets, cars, boats, bigger houses, etc.

For others, the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of experiences …. trips, vacations, lavish meals.

And for still others, the pursuit of happiness is made manifest in the pursuit of riches … bigger paycheck, larger dividends. The more that I have the happier I will be.

Of course, there are those who consider the pursuit of happiness to be the pursuit of less.
The pursuit of simplicity.
The pursuit of stillness.
The pursuit of doing good or helping others.

Some folks may come to the point at which they consider the sacrifices that they have made in their pursuit of wealth, or riches, or objects. They realize that they have sacrificed time with their families and friends, perhaps even their time with God.

Our passage this morning should make us consider what it means to be happy or content. Does our happiness include the pursuit of godliness? What does it mean to be content?

After all, Paul began this portion of his letter to his young protégé with the idea that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Godliness with contentment may not have made it onto our list of goals to be accomplished.

Paul’s words are nearly two thousand years old, but they still inform the Christian community. They assist us in our own pursuit of happiness.

Contentment means “comfort” and “peace.” Contentment finds value in life rather than in possessions. Contentment means to be happy with what one has, rather than desire what others may have.

Paul’s words to Timothy predate our Declaration of Independence by HUNDREDS of years and they are meant to be foundational words for the living of our lives. Paul is asking us to make a declaration as well. He is asking us to make a public declaration to follow the Way of Jesus Christ.

How do we achieve contentment with godliness? We pursue righteousness.

Righteousness is the most comprehensive of the virtues. It means to give both humanity and God their due. It is the recognition of our commitment to humanity and to God. Righteousness asks us to consider how we can pursue our own happiness or contentment and also ensure the happiness and contentment of others.

Pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, patience and gentleness. And Paul tells us how to begin, where to begin. Begin with the love of, or pursuit of wealth.

We know that money or wealth is not inherently evil. Wealth is not a sin. Money is not a bad thing. Money enables the exchange of goods and services. Money can and is used for good. Paul is warning against the LOVE of money, the pursuit of wealth. It is in that desire, that passion, that the evil enters in. That is where the traps and pitfalls are. Paul warns that the pursuit of money and wealth can lead to the “worship” of wealth. The more that money becomes a good in and of itself, the more it becomes an idol.

Love of money can lead to an insatiable appetite for more. An ancient Roman writer once said that pursuing wealth to satisfy your appetite is like drinking sea water to quench your thirst. The pursuit of more and more wealth can ultimately lead to evil or corrupt practices to accumulate it.

Paul was also addressing an even more specific threat. There were those in the Christian movement in the first century that used their Christian profession as a means to accumulate wealth. Certain church leaders were charging for their teaching and instruction. They were leading people to believe that their profession of faith would lead to social advancement.

It was not all that different from those who preach the prosperity gospel: the more you pray, the more successful you will be. Or those charlatans and snake oil salesmen that proclaim, “Send me your money and you will be saved. Send me more and your riches will be greater.”

Of course, Paul was not saying that we should live in abject poverty. He is not saying we should give everything away and go live in the desert in austerity. There is not special virtue in being poor. There is no virtue in working tirelessly day and night and barely making ends meet.

He is saying that our attitude toward wealth and money is what is important. The object of our desire or passion should not be directed at money and the accumulation of wealth. What he does not say, but is part of this truth, is that we can also substitute the love of money with other passions.
The love of power …
The love of influence and control …
The lust for violence …
The love of lust …
The pursuit of pursuit itself. Always chasing something without even knowing what one is chasing.

Are all passions that can separate us from our love for God and our love for humanity. The Christian knows that the secret of happiness in not in things, but in people. Our greatest possession is our relationship with God.

Paul instructs us that there is a different way. There is a godly way, and he asks us to commit ourselves to that way.

Pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love, patience and gentleness. Make the same public confession that Jesus Christ made. Commit ourselves to this life. We do not pursue the false gods of wealth, power or influence. We pursue the better way, the True Way.

Paul uses the word “noble.” It can mean both “good” and “beautiful.” It is one of the words of highest praise available in the language of his day. When we dedicate ourselves and proclaim our pursuit of this good and beautiful life, we are declaring that Jesus is our Way.

Paul reminds us that we are People of God, Children of God. This is a title of which we should be proud. It is an honor to be called and considered to be a Child of God. It was a term that was used to describe the ancient prophets and leaders of the people. It should remind us and inspire us. Being known as a Child of God should be visible in the way that we live, it should be made manifest.

Being proud of this title does not mean that we move through the world with our chests puffed out, thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. It should mean that we move through the world differently, we should interact with the world differently.

This is our declaration of DEPENDENCE.

We acknowledge that we need the Way of Jesus Christ to instruct us in our lives.
We need to love of God and the hope that God offers.
We need to be in relationship with God and with all of humanity.
We acknowledge that righteousness and godliness and faithfulness and gentleness are the better way.

May these words be our truth and our way. Amen.


Congregational Church