True riches for poor folks and rich folks

Published 8:41 pm Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nowhere in the Bible can you find so much wisdom from God concerning money and material possessions, in one brief passage, as in 1 Timothy 6:5-19. This wisdom was meant to be shared with believers in the churches, and I share it with you.

First, we have some simple truths about riches. “We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it” (v. 7). Someone reminded me recently that there is no trailer hitch on the back of the hearse. It was once asked how much the deceased left behind and someone answered that he left all of it. “You have been robbed of truth if you think godliness is a means to financial gain” (v. 5). We will do well to measure the truthfulness of present day teaching by that verse. The greatest gain on earth is godliness. Therefore some persons with the least possessions may be the richest. “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (v. 6). Second we have warnings about the dangers of an obsession to amass material possessions. “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction” (v. 9). We have seen an overwhelming sweeping realization of the fulfillment of this verse on a national level this past year, and we are in the midst of such now. I have seen it fulfilled through the years in the lives of my personal acquaintances. “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (v.10). Notice, it does not say “all” evil but “all kinds of evil.” This is not difficult to see on a large scale in drug trafficking, the gambling industry, the liquor industry, the political sellouts and the collapse of financial institutions. But we see it more personally in our own covetousness and making idols out of material possessions. Love of money is at the root of many Christians being in a backslidden condition. “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10). A professing Christian, who was once seemingly faithful to his church and the Lord, can let his love for more material possessions and the things he has to do to get them make him become cold and indifferent.

Third we have the command to change our focus relating to the love of money. “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your confession in the presence of many witnesses” (v. 11-12). It is a command to turn from the love of money and pursue that which truly enriches in this life and will make one rich when we must give an account of ourselves “at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time” (v.14).

Fourth we have the instructions given to Christians who have an overage of possessions or income beyond their personal needs. (l) Do not allow such to make you arrogant or boastful (v. 17). (2) Do not place your trust in wealth, which is so uncertain (v. 17). (3) Place your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything we have to enjoy (v.17). (4) Use your material possessions to do good and to be rich in good deeds (v.18). (5) Be generous and willing to share (v. 18). As a result, “you will lay up treasure for yourselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that you may take hold on the life that is truly life” (v. 19).

–Charles Christmas’ column appears each Thursday.