God, incline my heart to Your witness and not to covetousness. Amen.
Text: First Timothy 6:9–12
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Nothing destroys the heart like love of money. Nothing else is so sure to kill all noble feeling in man and nothing excludes love so firmly and tightly. It is good to have what one needs without care and worry: it is right to work for it and to take care not to defraud anyone or to live off someone else’s labor. It is praiseworthy to be industrious and economical. But how easily we cross the line! The generous become extravagant, the diligent miserly, the thrifty weighs whether he will escape the noose of Judas. What worrisome consideration: one strives for money to be happy, and it is only to strengthen himself for temptations and all kinds of foolish desires, which sink man into destruction and condemnation! One works to satisfy his thirst for riches in order to have it good, and in reality he fosters a root of all evil, of sin and unrest, of restlessness and losing heart, of grief and eternal misery! In this respect life’s way is narrow, yes, it is impossible for us to go on except by God’s support! Every independent person with honor and conscience must strive to have enough and abundance of all good. But if he gets rich, he strays from faith, becomes an idolater, and pierces himself on all sides with nothing but sorrows. God help and save us from Satan’s snare! But does a Christian have nothing to strive for other than passing treasures? Let the children of the world, who know nothing higher, strive for earthly riches and its sorrows. But you, O child of God, flee these things! Rather seek after righteousness, fear of God, faith, love, patience, gentleness! These are of lasting value and make you rich indeed. Let the unbelieving fight for “fool’s gold,” you fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, to which you also are called, and you have joined the confession of many witnesses! Do not forget that you are enlisted in the Lord’s army and stand on the battleground with a host of witnesses around you! Should you then deny your oath to Christ and, instead of laying hold of the heavenly inheritance of life, turn to deceptive shadows of earthly riches?
God, help us to run with patience and self-denial in the battle set before us. Free us graciously from the temptation to love money, and uphold us in faith to the end. Make us zealous for our holy covenant with You and strengthen us to fight the good fight of faith. Amen.
O Man, what good will come to you
If you the world should conquer
And lose the soul once given you,
Eternally to suffer?
No one the suff’ring lessen can,
The fires of hell, God’s righteous ban;
Your tongue with thirst must suffer.
Behold! There is a deep abyss
With gaping jaws and growing;
He casts away those gone amiss,
God’s kingdom never knowing.
My precious soul, now flee from this;
Shun not the gift of heav’nly bliss:
Christ paid all you were owing.
Landstad: O kommer hid fra alle Land L 454:2-3 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Aus tiefer Not (ELH 452); alternate hymn: One thing needful ELH 182:1-2