Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
1 Timothy 6:12
The Apostle's Exhortation with Regard to Eternal Life.
There is a deep and solemn interest which always attaches to the last words of a fellow-creature; more especially is this the case if he who is departing out of life has long been eminent for his piety and devotion. The words of the text were spoken when St. Paul knew that his departure was at hand. Addressing his beloved Timothy, with a full realisation of all the trials of the past, and having the anticipation of his approaching martyrdom, with his dying breath he counsels Timothy, "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life."
I. Note the object here presented, "eternal life." Eternal life is an expression used in God's Word to denote the happiness and the glory of heaven. We are not to limit the meaning of this expression to the one idea of never-ending duration. On the contrary, eternal life is a term used to denote all the happiness, all the glory, all the dignity which God can confer on a redeemed creature in eternity. All that you can conceive of heavenly blessedness, all that Scripture sets forth to us of the happiness reserved for the saints in the life to come,—all is comprehended and included within this brief, comprehensive phrase, eternal life. Of that eternal life we know comparatively little as to its real nature. The happiness of heaven is for the most part in God's Word set forth to us either negatively, or by the help of imagery, borrowed from earthly things. I observe (1) that eternal life will comprehend the perfect knowledge of God. We have the authority of our Lord Himself for saying this. "This is eternal life to know Thee the only God." (2) Eternal life means perfected resemblance to Christ. In proportion as the Gospel of Christ gains its legitimate hold upon any man, in that degree he is brought into the Saviour's image. (3) Eternal life will consist in the companionship with ail the blessed, with all the saints of God from Abel, the first martyr, down to the saints that shall be brought forth to complete the spiritual edifice.
II. Note the exhortation with regard to eternal life, "lay hold upon it." This is an exhortation which summons to present, to immediate effort. How are we to lay hold on eternal life? I reply at once, Believe on the Son of God, trust in His power, confide in His love, rely on His wisdom, seek to partake of His grace. So shall you lay hold on eternal life. (2) Next, I would say, Cherish the influences of the Holy Spirit, cherish them by secret prayer; cherish them by holy meditation; cherish them by constant study of the Inspired Word; cherish them in the use of all the appointed means of grace. (3) And lastly, I would say, Would you lay hold on eternal life? Live for eternity. Propose to yourself as the great object for which you are sent into this world, to win the prize of everlasting life.
Bishop Bickersteth, Penny Pulpit, new series, No. 54.
1 Timothy 6:12Man's Great Duty.
I. Consider our need of eternal life. Sin has brought death into this world; and we are all of us involved in the calamity and buried in the ruins of the fall. We may not have sinned as others have done: that is very possible. But though we have sinned less than others, we cannot be saved by merit; even as, thank God, though we have sinned more than others we may be saved by mercy. Those who speak of great and little, of few and many sins, seem to forget that man's ruin was the work of one moment and of one sin. The weight of only one sin sank this great world into perdition; and now all of us, all men, lie under the same sentence of condemnation. Extinguishing every hope of salvation through works, and sounding as ominous of evil in men's ears as the cracking of ice beneath our feet, or the roar of an avalanche, or the grating of a keel on the sunken reef, or the hammer that wakens the felon from dreams of life and liberty, that sentence is this: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them."
II. Consider what we have to do to obtain eternal life. Nothing in one sense more difficult, yet in another, easier—a wish, a word, a look, and it is ours. You have only to wish, and, as if struck by a magician's rod, the walls of your prison-house open. You are free.
III. Consider more particularly what we have to do to obtain eternal life. By the aid of the Spirit, and through the exercise of faith, you are to-lay hold on the Saviour; and laying hold on Him, though it were in the hour of the most imminent destruction, and in the very jaws of death, you lay hold of life—of eternal life.
IV. Consider when we are to lay hold of eternal life. When, but now? Christ promises it today; not tomorrow. Accept it so long as it is in your offer; seize it so long as it is within your reach.
T. Guthrie, The Way to Life, p. 1.
References: 1 Timothy 6:12.—Homilist, 3rd series, vol. i., p. go; vol. ix., p. 45; Clerical Library: Outline Sermons for Children, p. 256; Christian World Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 295; G. W. Conder, Ibid., vol. vii., p. 280; H. W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. xii., p. 184. 1 Timothy 6:14, 1 Timothy 6:15.—F. W. Farrar, Ibid., vol. xxviii., p. 67. 1 Timothy 6:15, 1 Timothy 6:16.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 216. 1 Timothy 6:16.—H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 123; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 336; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. v., p. 383.
1 Timothy 6:17Human Affection raised, not destroyed, by the Gospel.
I. The Apostle sets before us, in the text, two applications of the same human affection. He bids us not to trust in uncertain riches, but to trust in the living God. He assumes that there is in the heart of man the tendency to dependence upon something beyond itself, yet intimately connected with itself; and above all, upon that wealth, which is the pledge and representative of all earthly enjoyment, and which is thus the great mediator between the heart and the world that attracts it. He assumes that this trusting impulse exists, and He would not destroy but reform it. He would exhibit the true and eternal object for a tendency in itself indestructible; and would intimate that there is prepared for the just desires of the soul a sphere of being, adequate to these desires, and from which the present detains us only as the counterfeit and mockery of it. On the one hand, "uncertain riches"; on the other, the parallel announcement, that "God giveth us richly all things to enjoy."
II. Trust not in uncertain riches, but trust in the living God. Preserve unbroken every element of your affections; they are all alike the property of Heaven. Be ambitious, but ambitious of the eternal heritage. Let avarice be yours, but avarice of celestial treasures. Covet esteem, but esteem in the mind of God, of the circles of the blessed. Yearn after sympathy, but seek it where alone it is unfailing, in Him whose essence from eternity is love, and who became man that He might humanise that awfulness of celestial love to the tenderness of a brother's. "Charge them that are rich in this world" that they interpose not a veil between themselves and the Father of their spirits, or suffer the clouds and vapours of earth to sully or eclipse the beams of this eternal sun.
III. Our earthly objects of pursuit are themselves clad by hope with colours that rightfully belong only to their celestial rivals; our ordinary earthly longings themselves strain after a really heavenly happiness, while they miss so miserably the way to reach it. The votary of earthly wealth does, in fact, with all the energies of his nature, strain after that very security of unchangeable bliss which we preach; but, mistaking the illusory phantom, weds his whole soul to the fictitious heaven, which the powers of evil have clothed in colours stolen from the skies. The soul made for heaven is lost among heaven's shadows upon earth; it feigns the heaven it cannot find, and casts around the miserable companions of its exile, the attributes that belong to the God it was born to adore. Lay not out your rich capital of faith and hope and love and admiration, upon the poor precarious investments the world at best can offer you; impress upon your heart the conviction that not one of all this host of energies but was primarily designed for heaven to open the full tide of your affections to that world where alone they can find repose.
W. Archer Butler, Sermons, p. 270.
References: 1 Timothy 6:17.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 137. 1 Timothy 6:18.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiii., p. 244. 1 Timothy 6:19.—G. S. Barrett, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxv., p. 179; Smart, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 105. 1 Timothy 6:20.—Church of England Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 49.
And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.