Devotional Thought – A Word to Wealthy Believers


Cody H. –

A few thoughts from three verses, 1 Timothy 6:17-19. So I’ll read those.

Paul says to Timothy, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant, nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God. Who richly provides us with everything we need for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

So just a few observations from these verses.

To preface it: Paul addresses this to “those who are rich in this present world.” And I’d like to say that that is us. You might say, “Well, Cody, we’re missionaries. We’re not wealthy, we don’t make a lot of money. And we’re not doing this work for that reason.”

And I would agree. You might say, “We’re not the rich that Paul is talking about here.”

I would say, well actually, I think we are. In virtually every category, citizens of the United States are on the top of the global wealth charts. According to World Bank, over 700 million people live on less than $2 a day. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 41% of the population live on less than $2 a day.

We’re not here to tackle poverty. My point is, we’re wealthy people. We are the rich in this world. So Paul has a warning in here to the rich, to us, to me.

He says “Do not be arrogant. Do not put your hope in wealth. After all, it is uncertain.” So we have a warning of what we’re not to do. Do not be arrogant, do not put our hope in wealth. It’s uncertain.

Bernie Madoff died yesterday at 82. That name is very familiar, I’m sure most, if not all of us, recognize that name. He was serving 150-year prison sentence for running a decades long ponzi scheme that defrauded nearly 4,500 people out of about $65 billion. It collapsed in 2007, or around there. So, after decades, for some of these investors it vanished. Their wealth was gone. They thought they were wealthy.

The point is, it’s uncertain. Proverbs 23:5 says, “Cast but a glance at riches and they are gone. For they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”

One of the things I love about Paul, though, is he doesn’t just leave it at a negative command, he rarely does that, he actually matches it with a positive command or an affirmative command. It’s this “put-off-put-on” idea. So he has also what we’re to do instead.

Instead of these, don’t do these things I’m warning you against, do these instead. What are we, the rich in his present world, to do? He says, in verse 17, “Put your hope and God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” And also verse 18 “Do good, be rich in good deeds and be generous and willing to share.”

I just love this wordplay because he’s talking about people that have worldly riches. But then he’s flipping that idea on its head in two ways there. You notice he says, “God richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” And then he says, “Be rich in good deeds.”

So he’s talking to people who obviously have a lot of worldly wealth, they have plenty of money, they have possessions. They enjoy those. He’s saying the richness that God has, the riches that He has, doesn’t compare. It’s a bottomless wallet, a bottomless account. He provides you everything for your enjoyment, so “you be rich in good deeds,” be lavish in your good deeds, be generous and willing to share.

So as we do this, as we refuse to be arrogant, refuse to put our hope in wealth, as we instead put our hope in God and do good and live a life that’s rich in good deeds, showing that we’re generous and willing to share, what’s the result of this type of life? Well, they are eternal results, actually.

Paul says in verse 19, we’ll be “laying up treasure for ourselves as a firm foundation for the coming age,” for eternity. So that we can take hold of the life that is truly life.

So Paul is saying that generous deeds done here in Christ lay a foundation for our life to come that will last all of eternity. If you understand what that means, come up and explain it to me after because I still can’t understand how deeds that we do while we’re living and breathing, walking this earth, with the proper motivation, deeds that we do, somehow impact our eternal existence.

When we pass, we get our new body, we pass into eternity, we’ll be active, we’ll be doing stuff, we’ll be working for Christ. And somehow the deeds we do now prepare us for that and they impact that. I don’t understand it. That’s what we’re told here.

So by doing this, we show that we understand that eternal life is true life. Our lives here on earth will end but that life with Christ for eternity is true life that will never end.

And just like Christ has been raised with an imperishable body, never to die again, so we will receive a new body when He returns and makes all things right. And that true life that we enjoy then, it’ll never end and the good deeds that we do, the lavish generosity that we show, modeling Christ, modeling our good, gracious God will impact that eternal life we have. And also the eternal lives of others.

So that was challenging to me. Hope it was to you too.

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