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Step Away!

From the series The Book of 1 Timothy

Have you ever been asked in a job interview: “What are your weaknesses?” Some may avoid answering directly or flip the question to brag a little about themselves saying, “I work too hard” or “I care too much.” But in this message, Chip proposes that it’s vitally important we know our faults and that there’s actually a way to use them to our advantage. Join us to learn more!

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Message Transcript

Last coaching tip, life coaching from the apostle Paul, you ready? Tip number six: Know your opponent well and your own weaknesses better. Know your opponent well – the world system, the enemy – and your own weaknesses better.

Now, I can’t end this time, without telling one more basketball story. I mean, when I went away to play in college, I was a hundred and thirty-five pounds and six feet tall. And I was always undersized, and so, I always observed and I learned and I learned from coaches and I would watch games on TV and who were my heroes and what did they do and why? And how does John Stockton come off of a pick and how does he do a pocket pass?

And I would study, study, study, study because everyone was bigger, everyone was stronger, and everyone could jump higher. Other than that, I was in good shape. And so, I remember starting to learn this in high school, and we were playing, I can still, I mean, not many high school games I can remember, but this kid lit us up.

And we were, I was in Columbus, Ohio area and it was Delaware and we were in this thing called the OCC Conference. And, I mean, he would come down and he had a crossover, and I mean, he would just, he just lit us up, bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

And I’d come out of the game and I was sitting there and I was figuring out, What do we got to do? And what I found out, I started to watch him, and I watched every did a heel-toe-heel-toe, one-two, every time before he shot. I watched it, I watched it, I watched it. I mean, the kid, you know, this is in the old days. It wasn’t a three-pointer. This guy has got, like, eighteen points and we’re, like, not even into the second half at all. And so, okay, “Chip, get back in there.” I did like the coach says, I’m just watching his bellybutton. And the moment I saw: heel-heel-heel, man I just, I just got up into his grill like that. And it was amazing what happened.

And many years later, we were playing, when I went to seminary, my goal in seminary, the first day was to find anybody over six-ten and recruit them to a team that we had and then we played in this big Texas tournament. And we played against another guy who was, man, he was – in this tournament, he’s going to light everybody up. And we studied him. And I just found that, you know what? He’s kind of the Larry Bird, did you ever figure out how in the world that guy, that is not as quick as other people, knew where they were going to be, got to the right spot at the right time at the right place? See, he knew his opponent well.

But I want to encourage you to know your weaknesses better. In seventh grade I broke this, eighth grade I broke this, ninth grade I broke this. I think either three or four years I broke something on the right side of my body. And being a gym rat, what you do is you take the cast and you play with one hand.

But because of all that, I never had quite the touch. So, you know, I shoot right-handed and what I realized was I needed people to believe that I wanted to go right, but honestly, I was always better left. And then I had one leg that didn’t work so well, so I needed to jump off of this leg instead of that leg, because I had a bunch of knee problems growing up with shots in them.

And so, it was, so, I knew my own weaknesses, so I would always come down right-handed like this, and I would watch these guys do this, like they were taught, “I’m going to make him go left.” And, see, if you know your own weaknesses well, you structure your life in ways where your weaknesses don’t hurt you, but instead you can use your weaknesses to your own advantage.

And don’t miss this. Where the apostle Paul is going to take his son Timothy is: There are a couple things that will take you down, dude. There are a couple things that have taken the very best of people down. And I want to warn you. You need to know your enemy well, but if you read this text very carefully, he’s going to say, “Timothy, you need to know your own weaknesses better. And then you have to structure and protect your life so that those weaknesses don’t come into play.” Does that make sense?

Okay. Then let’s roll. We are in chapter 6, the apostle Paul doing some life coaching. And he says, “All those under the yoke of slavery are to regard their own masters as worthy of honor,” see if you can start getting a theme, “so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. Those who have believers as their masters must not disrespect them because they are brothers or sisters, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.”

And then he’s going to make a hard turn. He says, “You need to be wise in relationships and I want you to step into them. And if you’ve got an unbelieving master, this is the way you do it. If you’ve got a believing master, this is the way you do it. Now, Timothy, teach and preach these principles…” because at the end of the day, Paul is writing this thinking, If all else fails, the one thing I want him to do is stop the false teachers, because of all the things I have written in this book.

So, now, notice what he says. “Teach and preach these principles. If anyone advocates a different doctrine and doesn’t agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to,” circle this word, “godliness.” That’s the goal of everything.

I want you to live out your life so that you reflect Christ. “…he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a sick craving for controversial questions and disputes about words, from which come envy, and strife, and abusive language, and evil suspicions, and constant friction between people of depraved minds who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”

And so, basically what he goes through and says, “Some of the evidences of false teaching, it produces arguments and envy and friction.” And has anyone seen any of that in the Church in the last couple years or so?

Did you notice the root cause? Men of depraved minds. It’s thinking. And over time, pretty soon, people’s theology and their values and then you do understand that you are now wired in a world where the enemy, whatever you believe we now have, they have algorithms that will keep feeding you the same stuff so that you’ll get cemented in your views, even the ones that aren’t true and that are baseless and have no fact. And polarize you against other people, because if you want to raise money or if you want to get likes or if you want to get following, what you have to do is have a big, evil opponent that everything they do is wrong.

And the more you scream, scream, scream, “They’re terrible, they’re terrible,” and we need you to…” It raises money and it gets ratings. The only person who knows the truth is God. But our responsibility is we have got to be really discerning. He says, “This is how false teaching occurs.” But all you know is the evidence of false teaching in relationships, he says, “Envy, strife, abusive language.” You see any of that online lately?

And so, he gives them a little correction here. He says, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accomplished by contentment.” That’s being at peace with what you have. It doesn’t mean that you’re lazy, it doesn’t mean that there’s not direction, ambition, goals, or strategy. But godliness, walking closely with Jesus, and being at peace, content. “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.”

Can you imagine what would happen if we actually believed the last line? I’ve got a roof, I have clothes, I have food. With that, now, is it wrong to want a nicer roof? A little bit nicer clothes? And a little bit more food if it’s – no, I don’t think so. But can you say thank you?

I’ve been spending a lot of time with pastors through all of this and one young man called me and he said, “Could we talk?” And he had come to Christ through a Bible study I led about ten years ago. And pretty difficult background and went away to school, became a pastor, and got married and just, you know, things on the right track.

And basically, the conversation went like this, “It’s really hard to be a pastor and I don’t think if I remain a pastor, I’ll ever be able to own my own home. So, I’m thinking about maybe starting a little charter business for fishing, because I really like to fish. And then I could still tell people about Jesus. So, what do you think?”

I said, “Well, I would remind you at least that of the eight billion people in the world, you are in the one-tenth of one percent of knowledge of the Bible, because of your training for four years. That is a stewardship that no one else has. So, if God is calling you out of being a pastor into fishing because you’re more passionate, I would just say make sure it’s a real clear call.” And I know him really well.

And so, working on my gentleness, because my insides were not gentle at all. My insides were like, “Who said it was going to be easy?” I’ve got some promises for you. “Anyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

And then I just said, “When you sense God’s calling,” and by the way, it’s real tough to be a pastor, so I really listened compassionately, right now with all the junk going on. But I said, “Do you think that owning a home is, like, do you think God promised us or you deserve to necessarily own a home?” “Well, I mean, everyone else is.” I said, “I know. Is your…”

Do you understand, are you getting it? It’s subtle. It’s so subtle. Is Jesus, yes, I want to follow You no matter what, but unconsciously I have this condition and this condition. Where I went to school I really loved it, it was a really great school. And I remember talking to the admissions guy and it was, I don’t want to exaggerate, so I’ll aim really low, but it’s like a third of all the people that graduate from where I went to school live within, like, fifty or a hundred miles, because they didn’t want to move out of the area. Really?

You spend four or five years going to school, learning the Bible, and then someone asks you and you go, “Oh, I don’t want to go there because it’s cold.” “Because it’s hard.” “Because people aren’t as open.” “Because my mother-in-law doesn’t want me to go there because she doesn’t want her daughter to live more than two hours away.”

And if you wonder why so many Christians are missing the fullness of God and experiencing the power of God, verse 9, “But those who want to get rich,” and put a box around want to in your Bible. There’s nothing wrong with being rich. “Those who want to get rich fall into temptations and a trap,” underline trap, “and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge people into ruin and destruction.” I mean, just underline trap, harmful desires, plunge, ruin, destruction.

I did a study on this earlier and, I mean, one of these words is the word for a fishing lure. And the other word is a word for a trap for an animal. And it’s, both of them are built around – what? Deception. That fish thinks that’s a real minnow. That animal think that food is free.

And notice, he says, “Those who want to get rich.” In other words, that’s, it starts then with harmful desires. I’ve got to have this. I’m not content. And then he gives the reason, “For the love of money,” and then circle, “is a root.” It’s not the root. “…is a root of all kinds or sorts of evil, and some by,” underline “longing for it have,” are you ready? “wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

And then he says, “Timothy, here’s the recommendation.” Contrast, “But flee these things, you man of God, pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and for which you were made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I direct you,” last time it was, “I command you.”

Now, “I direct you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Jesus Christ, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without fault or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time,” speaking of judgment.

Haven’t we kind of heard a charge like this before? This is actually the fifth personal charge. He is concerned that his son in the faith is going to wander, drift, be pierced within, be destroyed, find himself in ruin, bankrupt - and then he goes, “He who is blessed and the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion forever.” And then almost like an afterthought, because he said, “Okay, Timothy, you understand? Right? Remember my coaching tip, Timothy.” You need to understand your opponent.

I was a pastor ten years when I thought there was God against Satan. That’s not what the Bible teaches. According to Jesus, there are two gods: Me and mammon. Materialism, wealth, money. And Satan uses that to say, “Money will make you secure, money will make you famous, money will give you happiness, money will make you significant.”

You’ve got the logo here, you can talk about, “You know, I had a pretty good time at the Final Four. And, you know, my friend on his G5, we had a pretty good time together. And have I told you lately who I did a selfie with?” And, you know, we all just downsize that to, “I know the superintendent of schools,” or, “I know the football coach,” or, “I know…” Right? Or, you know, “I dated the prom queen.”

But money, money promises it, right? “You know, if I watched enough commercials, if I could just have a red sports car and really white teeth, I mean glowing white teeth, and a Coors Lite, beautiful blondes would jump in that car with me.”

You do understand, no, is that…it’s true, right? Because the commercial says so. Can I just – by the way, I usually mute commercials. Do you know why? Do you understand every, single commercial has only one goal? It starts with discontent. You don’t buy something unless what you have isn’t coming through for you. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t desire or think or plan.

And what he’s saying to Timothy is, boy, there’s a trap, because the other god – money – is always screaming.
“He who is blessed and the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion forever.” And then almost like an afterthought, because he said, “Okay, Timothy, you understand? Right? Remember my coaching tip, Timothy.” You need to understand your opponent.

I was a pastor ten years when I thought there was God against Satan. That’s not what the Bible teaches. According to Jesus, there are two gods: Me and mammon. Materialism, wealth, money. And Satan uses that to say, “Money will make you secure, money will make you famous, money will give you happiness, money will make you significant.”

And what he’s saying to Timothy is, boy, there’s a trap, because the other god – money – is always screaming. Money changes how you view and think about life, the future, and yourself, and especially other people. And money can give you this sense that there are other people and then there’s you.

We all want to be really, really pretty. We all really want to be rich. And we all really want to be famous. So why are the prettiest people and the richest people and the most famous people, by and large, they can’t have a happy, sustained relationship. They find themselves putting white powder up their nose and living for a group of people and fans that tomorrow it’ll just be someone else and they don’t care.

But he doesn’t throw wealthy people under the bus. What he does is address the desires behind unhealthy wealth that pierces and ruins your life. So, he ends it in such a positive way. He says, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” I mean, if there weren’t wealthy people in the world, we would not be sitting in this room, who underwrite tremendous amounts of things for ministries, who employ hundreds of thousands and millions of people because of their business acumen and their hard work and the companies and the things that have come with that is wealth. They just have a level challenge and temptation and responsibility that most of us don’t have.

And just like God holds me accountable for my teaching, God holds you accountable for your life and your… God holds them accountable for – the judgment seat looks like this. It’s just you and Jesus. “What did you do with the time I gave you? What did you do with the money I gave you? What did you do with the opportunity that I gave you?” Life is a stewardship. And when we stand before God it won’t be, I mean, thank heavens you don’t get compared to other people and He doesn’t grade on the curve. He’s the revealer of hearts. He knows the spiritual gifts and the passions and the abilities and the intelligence.

He wired you in a certain way and the judgment seat of Christ for believers will not be for our sin – Jesus took that judgment for us – it’ll be for: What did you do with what I gave you? And so he says to rich people, “Just instruct them, don’t be proud,” in other words, don’t trust in your riches, but on God, and don’t trust in your riches because they’re unreliable.

But he says, instead, “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up,” I love this, “for themselves treasure of a good foundation for the future,” purpose clause, “so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” I love the translation, “The life that is really life.”

“Timothy, protect what has been entrusted to you, avoid worldly chatter, the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ – which some have professed and thereby have gone astray from the faith.” He started there; he ends there. And I think the truth that just screams, coaching nugget is: “Keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the proper time.” He is coming back.

“He who is blessed, the King of kings, the Lord of lords who alone possesses immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light.” Live your life in a way that pleases Him. And a way that pleases Him, in one word if you trace it through this whole book is: Be godly. Right?

And our response is, “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.” You might just circle all the negative things in there.

And so, what do you do? “Flee from these things, you man of God.” Put a box around, “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” Then put another box around, “Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of eternal life, to which you were called and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Boy, those are strong, strong words. Pursue. Fight. Take hold.

Well, Paul is coaching the subject is God and money. False, [and] true teaching.

The issue is, at the core is motives and loyalty to Christ to the very end.

He has raised the issue of the other god and his tactics – money, mammon – who promise all the things that God says: “You’re secure in me. Your future is with me. You are significant because of who I made you and your position with me.”

And the underlying question is: Am I willing to be content with what I have at any given time and to make decisions based on God’s will, not the world’s values?

And I think the apostle Paul was right. He had learned it’s a process. It’s a learning to be content with little or much.

The action here is to: Step Away. And let me get really practical as we wrap things up.

I don’t know that there’s anything more helpful, because your money always reveals your heart. Do a personal inventory of your finances. I mean, just get clear. This is exactly how much comes in. This is what goes out. This is my level of debt. This is how much, if I have anything on credit cards. This is how much equity I have in my house, if I have a house.

I mean, just do an absolute personal inventory of your current finances. Read or take a course on biblical finances, whether it’s Crown or Dave Ramsey or, but, get where – there are some excellent, excellent books and courses you can take where: How does God view money? And then align your money with God’s principles. That’s sort of the general game plan.

The unspoken need, I think, is to develop a spiritual, financial game plan.

So, that’s why, for me, I think it’s important to have someone who is helping me with my finances that has the freedom to speak into my life and has also the same biblical worldview that I seek to have.

Know what the Scripture teaches about money. Let’s read, just follow along. This is Jesus, because it’s so important. Matthew chapter 6, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,” why? “where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” This isn’t a prohibition about money, it’s about being smart. If you store stuff up where someone can get it or destroy it, it’s not good.

“But store up for,” if you have, if you’re watching, “for yourself.” See, I don’t think most people believe in heaven or a new heaven or a new earth or all that is coming, you can actually store up for yourself treasures in heaven, “…where neither moth nor rust destroy or where thieves can break in and steal. For,” here’s the principle, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It’s just axiomatic.

In fact, I have often flipped it the other way. When I wanted my heart to be somewhere and I know it wasn’t in a good place, I started giving money to that. And over time, my heart caught up. I was reading through the psalms and reading through the psalms, and Proverbs, it keeps talking about the poor, the poor, the poor, and the orphan, the orphan, the poor, and the poor. And I just realized, in a moment of truth, I don’t think I care about orphans. And I just thought, God cares about orphans.

And I had a buddy that I had done - He started these orphanages throughout Zimbabwe and I had to teach in South Africa and I said, “Glen, could I come and visit?” And we did a little pastors conference and I went to all these orphanages. And this little girl, her actual name was Blessed. She would not leave and I walked with her on my hip. And they heard about Jesus and they had little chickens and we went home and we started giving a little and then a little bit more, then a little bit more, then some big chunks.

And then I had a big contract income from a book and we gave a really big chunk. Guess what, I really care about orphans. Once my treasure started caring about orphans, then my heart got moved.

Second is start with the ten-ten-eighty principle. Give the first ten percent of what comes in, to the Lord. Save the next ten percent, and live on the eighty percent. “Oh, I could never do that.” Yeah, no, yes you could. You’re going to have to have a budget and you’re going to need help and you’ll have to make hard decisions.

But don’t get thinking that now that I have given ten percent, God has got His and I’ve got mine. He owns everything. I’m going to give an account for the ten or twenty or thirty or forty or whatever percent I ever get to. And all the rest that He lets me keep to do other things with. But you’ve got to start somewhere. And what happens is giving forces you to live by faith.

Remember the manna? Do you ever understand, like, the very first thing God did with the Israelites was manna and it was daily? Why? He wanted – the goal wasn’t food. The food was: Will you trust Me one day at a time? And so, that’s just a great way to start. And Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over back into your lap. For whatever measure you give,” this, by the way, is a non-financial passage. It applies to finances, but this is life.

If you are miserly with your time, miserly with your money, miserly with your gifts, you will be, as that word fully comes out, you will be miserable. And if you are generous with your time and generous with your gifts and generous with your money, you will find great joy. It’s axiomatic.

And then, finally, share your entire financial plan with a mentor. Matthew 13:22 is the parable of the seeds and the sowers and it’s the third seed that falls into the earth. It grows up and the thorns are the desires for other things and the deceitfulness of wealth that chokes out the Word of God in our life. And so, this is a journey. I’m – my experience and the research says that most of us as men, most of us as Christians, our finances are not in good shape. And if your finances are not in good shape, you may not know it, but your soul is not in good shape.

There was a man, and some of you that are older, could I encourage you maybe to do this for your pastor or do it for maybe one of your sons or grandsons? A guy named Jack Cauwels came to me, he was in the church, I didn’t know him very well. And he said, “Chip, I’d like to do something for you.” And I said, “Well, that’s, what’s that?” He goes, “I’d like to pay for the first year of a financial planner.”

I said, “Oh, Jack, I don’t need a financial planner.” I said, “I don’t have any money.” So, he said, “Well, you know, even if you don’t have money, having a plan is really important.
I know this group, it’s called Ronald Blue and Company and they do a great job and they are biblical and they would really help you. Please let me pay for that.”

And I said, “Well, I mean, if you want to. I mean, gosh, thanks! But I don’t think I really need it.” And then he said, “Well, I learned that you’ve got a book coming out soon. I said, “Yeah.” He said, “So, what are you going to do with the money?” And this is probably why he met with me. “I don’t know. I don’t even know if there will be any money to tell you the truth. I don’t if any…I’m not an author. I’m just Chip.”

He said, “Why don’t you and your wife pray and come before God and decide in advance what you’re going to give out of that? Because right now it’s really easy. You don’t have anything. Right? You can be as spiritual as you want; you don’t have anything.”

You know, it kind of reminded me: Know your weaknesses better. Oh man, I’m that guy that likes to gamble. I’m that guy that likes to…This is from God. So, my wife and I prayed and we were probably a little more spiritual than we would have been.

So, we designated this big, big, big chunk of anything that ever comes in to the Lord. You know, wow. Well, You do it, great. We’ll just give it away! And I’m not sure I could have ever done that if I would have known someday I might write, like, twenty books.

And we started with a tip. The tip is: Know your opponent well. You do not have a more formidable opponent in your life than the temptation and the deception around wealth and money and stuff.

Second, know yourself better. How do you structure your life around the areas of money to protect your heart from being deceived? Because this sounds really funny, and it’ll, every, even when I say it I almost laugh, you do understand that when you are deceived, the person that doesn’t know it is you.

I meet with a lot of pastors and I’ll talk like this to them and, “Oh, well, you know, I work so hard at the church and, yeah, I do have some debt and this and that. I don’t really give because…” And I’m thinking: You are deceived my brother. Lots of debt, lots of stress, lots of pressure.

If you continue in the truth, the truth will set you free. And money is a hard one to get our arms around. It may take a few years to get out of debt. It may be an incremental journey to begin to find the joy, but I will tell you what, man, you know why I got to write really big checks to orphans? Because when it came in, it already gets set aside over here. God, what do You want to do with it?

You know, we have a ministry and we have lots of people of all levels that give. And some people just give horrendously generously that allows us to do things all around the world.
I mean, we have got a couple, three million books that we have been able to put in China, translated, with training. I mean, it’s millions and millions of dollars. I mean, I was just the little donkey that went in and did the teaching and the training. But I could never afford to do any of that. I would have never dreamed that I could get to be a part of that.

You know what that is? “He who is faithful in a very little thing, be faithful also in much. And he that is unrighteous in a very little thing will be unrighteous also in much.” And Jesus was talking about money in that passage in Luke 16. Guys, God loves you so much. Father, thank You for the privilege of being with Your sons, these good men. Will You protect them? Help them be godly. In Jesus’ name, amen.