But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11—NKJV)

Our Lord Jesus told us that no one can serve both God and mammon. “For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

Mammon is descriptive of earthly, material treasures, especially money. Money is not evil, as the verse in 1 Timothy is so often misquoted. It is the “love of money” (1 Timothy 6:10) that is the root of all kinds of evil. Money is something of a necessity in the sense that it offers a convenient way of translating the fruit of your labor so that it can be transported and exchanged for something you need. It is not wrong to receive a paycheck so that you may fulfill your task of providing for your own, especially for those of your own household (1 Timothy 5:8). It is also not wrong to give and to share money which God has given you (1 Timothy 6:17–18). No, it is not money which is evil, it is the love of it.

The problem is when the believer ceases to be known to the Lord and to others as a man of God, and returns to being a man of mammon. Verses 9 and 10 state, “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 all greediness and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” This is a warning to all believers against leaving God as their first love and replacing Him with a lesser god.

The man of God will be known as having another life-long pursuit. Paul admonishes Timothy to flee all the trappings of the man of mammon. The original word for flee easily appears related to the root of the English word fugitive. It means to everlastingly run from, to escape (to seek safety in flight). It does not make you less of a man to flee from a strong enemy in order to pursue the obvious course to victory.

Timothy, and every man of God, is to pursue a different agenda with a startlingly different set of values. The man of God runs swiftly in order to catch the virtues that are found in our verse. The man of God is to seek earnestly, endeavor eagerly, to acquire these six virtues with the same intrepid temerity as the man of mammon does his first love. Paul has just said in verses 6–8, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”

The six virtues are among the fascinating lists of Paul. The first virtue is righteousness. Moral rectitude comes close to catching the sense of the original word. Pursue piety in conduct (Ephesians 5:9) such that you are upstanding in your dealings with God and man. The second virtue is godliness. The sense is that a man of God is well-devoted to his Lord. There is no room in his heart for serving two masters. The third virtue is faith. This faith is conviction which drives your character, fidelity. You will notice that each of these virtues, though hard to fully distinguish from each other, seem to delve deeper and deeper into the inner character of the man of God.

The fourth virtue is love. This is God’s love being produced in the heart by the Holy Spirit. It has a force to it which is not subject to whims, markets, pressures, or even the fancies of his own heart. It is wholly of God. The fifth virtue is patience. This is a commonly named virtue in the Scriptures, prompted and empowered by the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer in the midst of adversity. It is the ability to remain secure and firmly planted, bringing honor to the Lord despite the trials. The final virtue to pursue is meekness. This is the only time this particular Greek word is used in the New Testament. It is translated as gentleness in some translations. It is the meek face that the man of God directs toward the Lord as he accepts God’s dealings with him as good, without disputing and resisting. It is this same disposition, of yielded submission to his Lord, that the world is privileged to observe in his conduct.

Are you born again so that you are free to be a man of God? If so, are you known as a man of mammon, like everyone else? Or are you occupying yourself with the worthy pursuits of a man of God? Trust and obey.