No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life…
— 2 Timothy 2:4
Have you ever wondered, How do I know if I’m becoming too materialistic? How do I recognize when natural possessions have become too important to me?
Today let’s answer those questions! In Second Timothy 2:4, Paul wrote, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life…” The word “entangleth” in this verse comes from the Greek word empleko. This Greek word can be used several different ways, but it is often used to describe a person entangled in his lower garments or a person who is caught in some type of vine.
For instance, this is the same Greek word that is used in Matthew 27:29 to describe how the Roman soldiers assembled Jesus’ crown of thorns! That verse says, “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head….” The word “platted” is this same Greek word empleko. It may be the clearest and best example of this word in the entire New Testament.
Think for a moment: How did the soldiers “plait” a crown of thorns? The soldiers took vines loaded with sharp, dangerous thorns; then they carefully wove together those razor-sharp, prickly, jagged vines until they formed a tightly woven, dangerous circle resembling the shape of a crown. It was this kind of crown that the soldiers violently shoved down upon Jesus’ head in Matthew 27:29.
What I want you to see is that this word “entangleth” describes something that has been woven together. By using this word, Paul tells us that, as committed Christians, we don’t have the privilege of getting too involved or intertwined with matters that are relatively unimportant in light of eternity.
The word empleko was also used to describe a runner whose garments become entangled in his legs. Although the runner was running a good race, his floppy, dangling garments have now become ensnared and entangled in his legs — and as a result, they break his pace and hinder his race. So here we find that the word empleko Paul uses in Second Timothy 2:4 can also describe someone who has become ensnared or entangled in something and thus hindered.
This means that Second Timothy 2:4 can be translated:
“No one serving as a soldier permits himself to get entwined, ensnared, and entangled in the affairs of this life.…”
But now let’s go back to the question about materialism. There is nothing wrong with owning nice things. In fact, God wants to bless us with nice things. But we are not to allow material possessions to become so ingrained in our hearts that they become the central focus of our lives. Our souls, emotions, and desires are not to become so ensnared, entangled, and caught up in the things of the world that we become meshed together with them.
How do you know if you’ve become materialistic? How do you know if natural possessions mean too much to you? Well, could you give them up if the Lord asked you to? Or have they become so woven into the very fabric of your life that you are now entangled in them? Only you and the Holy Spirit know the answers to these questions.
Do everything in your power to keep the temporal things of this world in the right perspective. Keep them in your hands but out of your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you areas of your life that need to be “untangled” and brought back into balance. Then after He speaks to you, it’s up to you to STAY untangled from those natural affairs of life!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I ask You to help me keep my heart free from the things of the world. You have called me to be a committed and focused Christian soldier. I cannot permit anything to ensnare and entrap me, thus distracting me from the good fight of faith You’ve called me to fight and win. You are the revealer of the secrets of men’s hearts, so today I am looking to You to reveal to me any areas in my soul where I have allowed something to entrap me so greatly that it threatens to eliminate me from the fight.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I boldly declare that my heart and soul are free to follow Jesus Christ! My worldly possessions are in my hands, but they are not in my heart. I will remain free of materialism, worry, and other worldly concerns, and I will stay focused on the task Jesus Christ has assigned to me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. What are some of your past victories that you can encourage yourself with as you fight your current fight of faith?
2. In each of those past struggles, what helped you to stay in the fight until you won?
3. List some examples of people in your life and in the Bible who held fast to God’s promises as they faced great difficulties until their victory was finally won.