Rich in Good Works

by Erin Bird

Good morning, afternoon, evening, or whenever you are reading this!

I hope you survived the downtime of Facebook and its sister apps this past Monday. I am rarely on Facebook anymore, so I didn’t know about the outage until I saw some news headlines. Based upon those headlines, it would seem that Facebook & Instagram being down for almost six hours is worse than COVID-19! In other news, productivity inexplicably jumped 37% this past Monday for a six-hour span.* 😁

As you hopefully know, we are in the middle of a six-week “Generosity Campaign.” Today (Oct 7) is Day 19, which means tomorrow is the midpoint of this “campaign.” If you’ve missed out on any of the “Generosity Activities” we’ve been posting on social media (maybe because Facebook was down for six hours?), be sure to go to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to get some ideas for how you are can show generosity.

Discipling Words for the Rich

Speaking of “showing generosity,” that is exactly what today’s phrase from 1 Timothy 6:17-19 is all about. In case you have forgotten (or missed previous installments), we have been looking at 1 Timothy 6:17-19 for the past few weeks as part of a series entitled “How to be Rich” (a supplement to our How to Give series we are doing from 2 Corinthians 9 on Sundays).

As a reminder, 1 Timothy 6:17-19 says:

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 ESV)

Last week, Matt Townsley brilliantly wrote about placing our hope in God (who is reliable) rather than in money (which is FAR from reliable). This means we are ready for the first phrase of verse 18 – “they are to do good, to be rich in good works.”

Rich in Good WorksAs we get ready to talk about this phrase, I want to remind you these words are from the Apostle Paul in a letter to Timothy, pastor of the church in Ephesus (a church planted by Paul a few years prior). His letter is intended to encourage Timothy, but also provide training and tips to help Timothy disciple the people in his church. One of the last groups of people Paul tells Timothy to disciple are the rich in this present age.” So far he has told Timothy to help the wealthy to not be haughty, as well as trust in God rather than their income.

But then Paul instructs Timothy to take the discipleship of the wealthy even further. They aren’t just to give their money to good causes. They are to actually “do good.” They aren’t to just give their finances, but their whole FIST (Finances, Influence, Skills, & Time). And Paul defines  “do good” with the very next phrase: “to be rich in good works.”

A Different Kind of Rich

Have you ever heard someone talk about being “rich,” but they aren’t talking about money? Maybe they are “rich” because of the wonderful friendships they have. Or maybe they feel “rich” because of the awards they’ve been given, or the phenomenal experiences they’ve had traveling around the world. The point is, being “rich” isn’t relegated to just having a large bank account, a huge house, or a fancy car.

That is what Paul is getting at. He doesn’t want the wealthy families in Timothy’s church to get stuck with just a financial definition of “rich.” He wants them to see they can be rich in a different way as well. One of those ways is to be “rich in good works.”

Paul’s discipling advice to the rich is just as needed in our present-day and age. We are living in very divided times with people tired from the pandemic, from their packed schedules, from information overload, and from an overall fatigue that seems to be plaguing Americans. But rather than see this as a major bummer, we should see this as an opportunity. What a wonderful chance you and I have to bring life, relief, and joy to others who are feeling the fatigue! When you…

  • serve at the monthly Food Pantry,
  • or love on kids in the nursery on Sundays,
  • or make a meal for a neighbor,
  • or give someone a ride to work or school,
  • or send someone a thank-you note
  • or just listen to a friend share his or her struggles…

…you are being “rich in good works.”

But that’s not all. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount, that when we do these good deeds for others, it might lead them to give glory to God. (Matthew 5:16) So let’s show the people around us the love of Jesus through our time, energy, and efforts. May we not just bowl them over with a generous financial gift. Let’s also bowl them over through kind deeds, displaying what it means to “do good, to be rich in good works.”

*This is a fake statistic created for humorous effect. Yeah, I’m not that funny, but it was worth a try…