1 Timothy 6:17-19
Surrounded on all sides by noise related to money and wealth. I say “noise” because if everyone had their way, nobody would have anything. Some promote schemes to dramatically increase wealth, others declare the rich should feel guilty while half the world starves. And, of course, bureaucrats have to get in on the discussion, coming up with creative ways to remove treasure from one person’s pocket and put it in another’s. Should you invest in this security or that project? How about a Powerball ticket? Or a trip to Foxwoods or Atlantic City or Vegas? With just some pocket change, you know!
We could spend next hour listing out world’s ideas about wealth, what principles are right to follow. Would be no closer to truth than when we started. So,… won’t do that. Instead will listen to what God has said in his Word on the subject. Might surprise you to know that Jesus said more about money than about heaven and hell. Nearly half of his parables focused on topic of money and wealth. That makes it real clear that even though this life not all there is, still has great importance.
God has graciously given us both responsibilities and things to enjoy here and now. Also graciously provided instruction on what to do now so we enjoy eternity more fully. Like other parts of Christian life, when comes to wealth there are sins to avoid and duties to pursue. If we faithfully follow God’s financial principles, we are assured of eternal benefits. See if your investment counselor can match those terms!!
A. not a sin to be rich v.17a
assumption is that some within Ephesus church are people of means – not surprise given nature of city as commercial and intellectual powerhouse
would expect as Gospel penetrated culture, people from community came to Christ, would be wealthy individuals among them
Demetrius, highly successful silversmith (Acts 19:24) stirred up riot in Ephesus while Paul was there
no hint of command here for rich to stop being rich, no criticism of their wealth
Zacchaeus not the prototype – come to Christ, come to the church, put half of goods in first benevolent offering
Solomon’s unparalleled wealth a gift from God – asked for wise and understanding heart, given that plus wealth and honor in addition
further basis found in 10 Commandments
not to take what belongs to someone else, given to them in trust by God; is theirs to manage
not even to desire what belongs to someone else; are blanket statements, not comparative ones
don’t take it, want it if you have enough; if they only have some stuff, not gobs and gobs
not whether you have wealth or not, it’s attitude toward it and use of it that counts
do you think about material things the way God does?
do you value the things that God does?
do you use resources he has entrusted to you in ways God approves?
B. two sins to avoid v.17b
arrogance – high-minded; haughty
temptation is to view wealth as yardstick – way to measure things other than God’s goodness
==> ability to pick good investments; work tons of hours, live on peanut butter and crackers, build bank account; find really good deals at yard sales, on Craigslist, acquire valuable stuff for little or nothing
smarts and strength and self-denial and luck and hat is all of a sudden too small
in relation to others
they must not be as smart or strong or lucky, they don’t have much
maybe God doesn’t like them as well as he likes me, hasn’t treated them so well
since I have, they don’t, makes perfect sense for me to decide how things should be done
increase our missions giving? and they can’t give another $1 on Sunday? what kind of idea is that?
line from John Newton’s hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” that is most appropriate:
“My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.”
not the sin of having things, the sin of trusting in things
obvious rationale given:
material things are uncertain, God is unchanging
numerous examples in current economic situation – display unpredictability and uncertainty of riches
count up foreclosures, repossessions, length of unemployment lines
listen to those who depend on investments for income – what they counted on isn’t there, no indication of when it might be if ever
not so with God – he is Alpha and Omega, First and Last, A to Z; (Rev. 1:11, 17); the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8)
Job just as much a child of his Heavenly Father when on the ash heap as at the end of story – not because of Job but because of God and his unchanging character
God’s ability and desire to provide for his children does not change over time or with circumstances
C. two duties to pursue v.17c-18
trust in God
trusting in material things implies lack of trust in God
as much as saying: can’t trust / expect God to provide all I need
he’s not doing such a good job right now since there’s stuff I want / need but don’t have
gotta take up the slack, make up for his lack of provision
trust in things quickly becomes love of things; Jesus spoke pretty strongly about that
Matt. 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; 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.”
essential to look beyond gift to Giver – especially since he is ultimate source and gives abundantly
on purely practical terms: why settle for golden egg when you can have the goose and constant supply of eggs?
regarding God and his gifts, contrast is even greater – because of who / what God is
God gives perfect gifts, precisely matched in character and quantity to needs of his people
on that basis, confidence must be in him – that he will continue to supply right things in right amount
here’s greatest difference: many of God’s gifts are for this life only
trust in the gifts won’t carry us over into and through eternity; trust in God will
do good to men
goal for the believer: to be rich in good works, not good stuff
default should be to give not grasp – quick to give, being generous, not grasping / holding on to last possible second
question regularly ask: how can I best use what God has entrusted to me for work of Christ, growth of his Kingdom?
true of every gift God has given, not just material things – time and talent as well as treasure
start by looking around family – what is best use of time/talent/treasure to encourage growth in godliness
then church family – same question: how can I use my resources to edify brothers and sisters
then neighbors – what would the Lord have me to do with his good gifts to draw neighbors to the Savior
talking about people in neighborhood, at supermarket, in workplace, wherever you regularly encounter them
have an answer to your question? ACT, don’t just sit there, DO IT, trusting in the living God for the outcome
show by your actions that you truly believe he is Lord, he is the one you love, he is one you trust
D. reap the reward v.19
a good foundation
see Matt. 6:20 – Jesus called it “treasures in heaven” – treasure up treasures in heaven, ones that will endure
so what are those things of gold, silver, precious stones that make up foundation of our home in heaven?
that which causes the church to grow in holiness, strength, effectiveness
which causes others to give glory to God for what we’ve done (Matt. 5:16)
may be a cup of water for thirsty, clothes for the naked, food for the hungry, comfort for the sick, shelter for the weary (Matt. 25:31-46)
may also be word of encouragement, a “thinking of you” note, a well-timed gas card, transportation to an appointment
how about a challenge to think about eternity, a soft answer to a harsh question, time to listen, a message of hope to one who has no hope, doing right when it’s costly
practice these things and you’ll “take hold of life that is real” (HCSB), experiencing life the way God intends for his children
Heavenly Father is not stingy; is generous beyond measure. Can we do any less than be the same, reflecting his character to all around us? Just as important: there’s more to life than just now. Can’t earn eternal life, but sure can add to treasure we will enjoy in heaven. Sounds contradictory but… to get most out of this life, must be investing in next life. Those investments are made when we walk the walk, follow the King, live each moment of each day striving to please the King.