Mo 4/15Tu 4/16We 4/17Th 4/18Fr 4/19Sa 4/20Su 4/21
Eccles. 2
1 Tim. 4
Eccles. 3
1 Tim. 5
Eccles. 4
1 Tim. 6
Eccles. 5
2 Tim. 1
Eccles. 6
2 Tim. 2
Eccles. 7
2 Tim. 3
Eccles. 8
2 Tim. 4

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

We’ve been publicly reading through the book of Ecclesiastes in our worship services,1 and now we get to read it privately in our weekly Bible reading. Ecclesiastes pairs well with our New Testament reading this week in 1 and 2 Timothy, especially as it pertains to the topic of worldliness.

What is worldliness?

I would describe it as an inordinate fixation on the things of this world that makes us forget about God or even deny Him. Both Ecclesiastes and 1 Timothy discuss the goodness of physical things created by God, and yet they also both warn of our tendency to focus on these things so much that we harm our relationship with the One who created them.

Worldliness can take a few different forms.

At times we may be tempted by a fear-driven worldliness that emphasizes the avoidance of certain allegedly harmful things in this world.

The Apostle Paul warns Timothy against false teachers “who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Tim. 4:3). He reminds Timothy that what will truly keep him healthy is “the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine” he had been taught. This nourishing sound doctrine stands in contrast to “worldly fables fit only for old women” (4:7). Old wives’ tales (and most advertising) play on our fears about what we should or shouldn’t put into our bodies.

We are quick to confuse decisions about our earthly bodies with moral requirements. What we eat or don’t eat, whether we are being “healthy,” how much we exercise—these things simply don’t matter very much. The Apostle Paul does admit that bodily discipline is of some value, but far superior is disciplining ourselves for the purpose of godliness. This is because bodily discipline only serves us in this life, whereas “godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).

At other times we might be tempted by a pleasure-driven worldliness that emphasizes the satisfaction of fleshly desires.

One such fleshly desire addressed by both Ecclesiastes and 1 Timothy is the love of money. Ecclesiastes helpfully highlights the inability of money to actually make us happy:

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity. When good things increase, those who consume them increase. So what is the advantage to their owners except to look on? The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.

Ecclesiastes 5:10–12

1 Timothy focuses on the propensity of the love of money to lead us away from God:

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy 6:9–10

Here are two scriptural ways to fight against worldliness:

1. Continually thank God for blessings in this life.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

1 Timothy 4:4–5

There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?

Ecclesiastes 2:24–25

2. Fix your hope on the blessings of the life to come.

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

1 Timothy 6:17–19

I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.

Ecclesiastes 3:12–14
  1. One of the reasons we have Scripture reading as part of our Sunday morning worship is in order to obey 1 Timothy 4:13: “Give attention to the public reading of Scripture.” ↩︎

VERSE TO MEDITATE ON

If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
—1 Timothy 6:8

HOW TO PRAY

  • Adoration – Praise God for His wisdom in making both rich and poor for His glory.
  • Confession – Confess to God your tendency to love worldly things and forget about Him.
  • Thanksgiving – Thank God for your daily food and clothing.
  • Supplication – Ask God to open your eyes to opportunities to share your earthly blessings with others.

Click HERE to ask the pastors a question about anything in your Bible reading.

This post by Alex McNeilly

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.

Recent Ask the Pastors answers . . .

Old Testament Prosperity vs. New Testament Suffering

QUESTION In the Old Testament, obeying God seems so clearly tied to physical prosperity. God even promises no miscarriages and long life in Exodus 23:26. But in the New Testament, we are actually promised suffering if we follow Christ. Why the switch in expectations...

What’s up with Ecclesiastes?

QUESTION There seem to be some pretty troubling statements in Ecclesiastes about how we are supposed to think and live. For example, Ecclesiastes 8:15, which was read in church this past Sunday, says, "There is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to...

What does it mean that love “believes all things”?

QUESTION In 1 Corinthians 13:7, what does it mean that love "believes all things, hopes all things"? It kinda sounds like that means we're supposed to just believe everything, but that doesn't seem right… ANSWER Whenever we interpret Scripture, we must use Scripture...