by Erin Bird

Today is Day 5 in our 40-day Generosity Campaign. If you missed the kick-off on Sunday, you can catch up with the sermon on the podcast or website. And if you didn’t get a devotional book yet, you can swing by the building and grab one or download it to your phone by searching your phone’s app store for givewithjoy (one word, no spaces).

In today’s blog post, we are continuing our walk through 1 Timothy 6:17-19 by looking at the second phrase of 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)

Don’t Think You’re Better

The phrase we will consider today is the “charge” from Paul to “not be haughty.” Some translations (like the NIV) use the word “arrogant,” while others (like the NASB) use the word “conceited.” But they all convey the same idea. To be haughty, arrogant, or conceited is to think so highly of yourself that you see yourself as better than others.

Unfortunately, this is a reality that has happened in far too many cultures throughout far too many moments in time. When a person’s bank account gets “full,” they often become “full” of themselves.

Don't be haughty from wealth“But Erin, I’m not rich,” you probably want to reply, “therefore, I’m not ‘haughty’. I sure don’t think I’m better than anyone else!” As we saw last week, you may not be “rich” in the eyes of most Americans, but globally and historically, you are quite wealthy. And this wealth may unknowingly (or knowingly!) cause you to think you are better than the poor in Haiti,  the homeless in New York, or even the people living in low-income apartments in Waverly. This means you have fallen into the same thought-trap into which many other rich people have fallen – to think a bit more highly of yourself than you ought.

The Gospel, however, teaches us otherwise. Jesus did not die only for the rich, nor did He die only for the poor. He died for the sins of humans, regardless of income capacity. So the size of your home, or the number of cars you drive, or the net worth of your possessions and financial accounts can’t nor ever will impress God, nor do they make you “better” than anyone else. As the cliché says, the ground is level at the foot of the cross.

Humble Generosity

I want you to also realize another truth: Jesus, God the Son, who knows true wealth and has all wealth (Psalm 24:1) was the humblest person on earth. Despite His possession of all things and all power, He still willingly and humbly went to the cross to die the death He did not deserve to give us the life we do not deserve.

And so because Jesus was the opposite of haughty, and out of his humility gave generously of His very life, may we “live like Jesus lived” and live out generous humility as well. And not just for the 40 days of a “generosity campaign,” but for all our days.