Week 43: Rich



But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:6-10

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

So let me ask you a question…does God want us to be rich? Now, I see some television preachers that would say “yes.” They say that if you give to God then He owes you health and wealth and happiness. But Jesus and the disciples were pretty poor. So, does God want us to be poor? Some preachers would say “yes.” They would say that the things of this world are evil and that we should live a life of poverty as a vow to show the world how important God is to us.

Well, I say that God wants more for you than riches or poverty. God wants you to find your ultimate contentment in Him alone. Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy not that money is evil but that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. In fact, money in and of itself is neutral. Money is a tool that can be used in the hand of the believer to glorify God and advance the kingdom of God. Or it can be a tool used in the hand of the enemy to destroy believers and kingdom advances.

You see, we are to love God and people and to use money to that end. The moment that we begin to love money we will have a tendency to want to use God and people to our own end. When Paul gets to verse 17, he has some instructions for “the rich.” He doesn’t say that they should be ashamed or that they should not be in that category. He simply instructs them on how to “be rich” in a way that honors God.

Now, the problem with addressing “the rich” is this -- most rich people don’t think they are rich because they don’t feel rich. Did you know most people in America feel generous and don’t think they are rich. And in reality most people in America are rich and they’re not very generous.  So how about you? Are you rich? Did you know that if your annual income is $31,000 then you are in the top 1% of richest people in the entire world? Let that sink in for a minute. 

That means that most of us are rich. So Paul is talking to us. So if we are going to be rich, then we should be rich in a way that brings honor and glory to the One that has richly blessed us. The Bible says first of all that we should not be haughty. That simply means that we should never try to take credit for all that we have but give credit to our God for all that He has given us. Now, I’m not saying that you have not worked very hard for what you have but we must realize that the opportunities and God-given abilities all came from above.

Then Paul warns us not to put our hope in the uncertainty of riches. Money makes promises all the time that it just can’t keep. First of all, riches are very uncertain. Markets rise and fall. Investments gain and lose. And money just can’t provide for you the security or the satisfaction at the soul level that each of us is longing for. 

Then Paul tells us to put our hope in God who “richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” Did you catch that last part? If you are not enjoying what God has blessed you with then you aren’t doing it right. Now let me tell you what I know to be true. As you deepen your relationship with Jesus, then what you truly enjoy begins to change. As Jesus transforms our hearts we will experience more and more of what Jesus said, that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” 

Paul says that if we really want to be able to enjoy God’s financial blessings in our lives then we should do good, be rich in good works, be generous and ready to share. In our world, that is almost the exact opposite of what we are told to do to enjoy yourself. Paul then closes with a very thought provoking phrase. He says that as we do money God’s way and generously invest in eternity as opposed to spending everything on us in this temporary world, that we will “take hold of life that is truly life.”

How many people have you heard of that treated the material things of this world as if they mattered most only to find out that all the riches and trinkets of this world would never satisfy.  So does God want you to be rich? Yes, but not merely in material things. He wants so much more for us than that. He has already richly blessed us with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and if we want to truly experience life that is truly life then we will live in such a way that blesses others with that same good news. 

And I promise you that as we do this we will deepen our relationship with Him.