by Matt Townsley
Today, we continue our walk through 1 Timothy 6:17-19 by looking at the third phrase in the passage. Here is the passage as a whole:
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. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 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, ESV)
The phrase we will consider today is the warning from Paul not to set our hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but instead to trust God who richly provides us with everything. Let’s get started!
The first part of today’s phrase tells us to set our hope on God rather than the uncertainty of riches. The New Living Translation says Jesus-followers are “not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable.”
As someone nearing the “middle years” of my career, I have been told numerous times to start thinking about finances and life in general, in the long term. Traditional retirement vehicles such as IRAs, 401(k)s, and Social Security all sound great, but what if the stock market crashes? What if Social Security is not around by the time I retire? It all sounds so unreliable. Whether you’ve thought about these long-term financial considerations or are purposefully choosing to ignore them, one thing is for certain: there will be uncertainty! We cannot realistically control the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500, nor can we predict what Social Security will look like 20 years from now. This is why we are to keep our eyes on God rather than the uncertainty of riches. As a matter of practical application, a trusted mentor years ago suggested that I should affix a label to my checkbook (yes, this was well before Venmo!) that reads “God’s money” in order to be reminded of where it all came from. In this same train of thinking, Matthew 6:21 tells us that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. No matter what happens to “our” money or other material possessions, we should keep our focus on God!
About ten years ago, my parents surprised me with a birthday gift: a shiny red toolbox and a ratchet set! I could barely let out a smile or even say “thank you” because I am not a ‘handy’ person and was certain that I would not have any use for these tools. Fast-forward about six months: A small home fix-up job presented itself to which I walked out to the garage, dusted off the toolbox, and for the first time put the tools to use. As you can imagine, I did not fully appreciate these tools until I saw the value in the gift my parents gave me. While I did not know what I needed, my parents did. Likewise, we may miss God’s provision for us, because we are caught up in what we think that we need rather than what He knows is best for us. Philippians 4:19 tells us, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Notice that God provides what we need according to His will. Indeed, we can rest assured that God will richly provide what is best for us, whether we immediately comprehend it or not.
Jesus had full confidence in God, His Father. We, too, should have confidence that God will richly provide for us. In doing so, we can “live like Jesus lived” and live out a spirit of generosity with our finances and other material possessions. And not just for the 40-days of a "generosity campaign," but for all our days.
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