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
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
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
The pursuit of
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
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?
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.
words are nearly two thousand years old, but they still inform the Christian
community. They assist us in our own pursuit of happiness.
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.
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.
do we achieve contentment with godliness? We pursue 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
love of power …
love of influence and control …
lust for violence …
love of lust …
pursuit of pursuit itself. Always chasing something without even knowing what
one is chasing.
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.
instructs us that there is a different way. There is a godly way, and he asks
us to commit ourselves to that way.
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.
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.
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.
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
is our declaration of DEPENDENCE.
acknowledge that we need the Way of Jesus Christ to instruct us in our lives.
need to love of God and the hope that God offers.
need to be in relationship with God and with all of humanity.
acknowledge that righteousness and godliness and faithfulness and gentleness
are the better way.
these words be our truth and our way. Amen.
Congregational ChurchUCC, SACO MAINE12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072207-283-3771