Don’t Be Haughty (from Wealth)

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.

A Word To The Rich


A Word to the Rich

by Erin Bird

Hope you are doing fantastic on this Thursday (or whichever day you are reading this). If you’ve read the past few blog posts, we have been doing a series from Exodus 34:6-7 entitled God’s Bio. While we are only half-way through that series, we are going to take a six-week break to shift gears for our upcoming generosity series.

As you have hopefully heard, we kick off a generosity campaign this coming Sunday. The goal of the campaign isn’t to just get more money from you, nor is it to fill your head with a bunch of biblical ideas. Rather, the goal of the series is to help you see what God wants for you by helping you grow in generosity in all areas of life. (In Riverwood-speak, we want to help you open up your FIST (Finances, Influence, Skills, and Time) in even more Christ-honoring ways.)

Here is what the generosity campaign will look like:

  • On Sundays, we’ll study 2 Corinthians 9 understanding How to Give.
  • We also encourage you to take this topic deeper through 40 days of personal study and reflection through the devotional booklets you can pick up in the lobby or download from your phone’s app store (search for givewithjoy(one word, no spaces)).
  • And lastly, here in the weekly email, we will do a companion series called How to be Rich which will be a six-week study of 1 Timothy 6:17-19. The goal of this series will be to help all of us understand even more of the Scripture’s teaching on the topic of generosity.

So to kick us off, let’s read our key passage for this How to be Rich series:

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)

Who are the Rich?

If you are like me, you don’t see yourself as “rich.” After all, the late Robin Leach would probably never have called you to be a guest on his show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. So because you don’t see yourself as rich, let me help you understand who the rich are and the type of life they live.

Rich people…

  • not only own a car and can afford to put gasoline in it, but oftentimes they own more than one vehicle.
  • not only live in a house, but they often have a spare bedroom ready for guests.
  • have a special house for their cars called a “garage.”
  • have a job where they are paid more than the world average of $8,500 per year.
  • often have art like paintings, photographs, and such on their walls. (They also have books on shelves, many of which simply serve as decorations.)
  • have spare money that allows them to own domesticated animals.
  • have so much stuff they can’t fit it all in their house, so they build sheds or rent a storage unit to hold their possessions.
  • (and possibly most amazing of all) have rooms called “pantries” that are simply used for food storage. (They also own an appliance called a “refrigerator” that also stores food, but at cooler temperatures, which reduces the spoilage of food.)

You are the Rich!

A Word to the RichNow, after reading that list, you might be shocked. But I suspect you aren’t shocked at the way rich people live. Rather, you are probably shocked to rrealize that by global standards, YOU are rich.

Truly, you are richer than you realize. Which means, the Apostle Paul’s first phrase in our key passage (“as for the rich”) pertains to you.

This is why we are going to take six weeks to contemplate the call to generosity Paul wrote in these three verses. My hope is that you will see that generosity isn’t just about giving money, but about your life – your approach, your perception, and your attitude. And I hope you will also see that the generous life is truly a joyous life.

Give More this Christmas

Welcome to December! On what feels like the 5th anniversary of 2020 (aka the year that never ends), we want to close out this calendar year by helping you get the most out of this Advent season. That’s why we are back with Part 2 of our Advent Conspiracy series, looking at the tenet of “Give More.” And to help us contemplate how we can do just that, here is the team from Advent Conspiracy with some thoughts*:

We’ve talked about rebelling against consumerism by Spending Less, but now we’re encouraging you to Give More… Is that a contradiction? Nope! Giving More isn’t about giving more toys, more gadgets, more clothes, more gift cards, more stuff.

God is calling us to Give More intentionally and relationally. That means giving more of our time, our energy, our memories, our talents, our presence. It’s a both/and. Spend less money and give more of yourself to the ones you love.

We believe that the best gifts celebrate a relationship. Think back on the most meaningful gift you’ve ever received. Chances are there is a story and a relationship that was connected to that gift. Now try and remember all of the gifts you were given last year…For most of us, that’s hard to do.

It sounds obvious, yet we seem to have drifted away from this liberating, straightforward truth: The Father gave his one and only Son (John 1:14, 3:16). God’s answer for the world’s problems has never been material things. God did not give us more stuff – even good stuff like work, food, or health. He gave us himself. The most priceless and personal gift of all!

Relational giving means we think about the other person–who they are and what they care about. We focus more on giving our undivided presence and less on a pile of presents under the tree. This takes time and effort on our part. These kinds of gifts often require planning, but you’ll hardly be able to wait until Christmas to give such a gift!

When we give relationally during the Advent season, this is what we remember: it’s an opportunity to worship as we remind each other of the gift that was given for our sake. If we can resist the trap of giving easy gifts, and reject the assumption that giving expensive gifts is the best way to express love, something else might begin to happen. Our kids, family, neighbors, and coworkers will watch us celebrate Christmas differently, and through our actions, they will hear the good news of the Gospel.

Some ideas to help you Give More:

  • Check out this list of relational gift ideas.
  • If you’re overwhelmed, start small. Choose one person on your list to give a relational gift to.
  • On Christmas morning, turn off your cell phone. Take a couple of hours to be present with your family and focus on the people God has put in your life.
  • Invest in experiences you can share: Sign up for dance lessons, go camping, plan a vacation, take cooking classes.
  • Pass down memories: Make a recipe book or photo album to give to your family.
  • Get a blank journal and write notes and prayers to your kids or a close friend.
  • Give a copy of your favorite book to a friend and then meet up for coffee and discuss it. Then switch and read their favorite book.
  • Buy someone a gift that relieves a burden: babysitting money, help out with yard work, make a meal. Or give them a set of “coupons” that does a similar thing. (Download some coupon ideas here.)
  • Give the gift of hospitality: Invite a new family over for dinner and games.
  • Do an activity with your kids: puzzles, jewelry making, baking, hiking, fishing, sports. Be present.
  • Set out a “giving jar” at home or at work. Any monies put in the jar within a certain time span (like from now until Dec 24) will be given to a charity, family, or project of your choice.

In light of this week’s topic of Give More, don’t forget: we are collecting our annual Impact Gift on Sunday, Dec 20, to be given to Northside Neighborhood Church to help them do neighborhood revitalization of homes and property destroyed by gang violence or drunk drivers. If you won’t be able to join us on the 20th, or would prefer to give online, you may do so here; just be sure to select “Christmas Impact Fund” in the drop-down menu.


*originally published at

Gospel-Fueled Giving

by Erin Bird 

If you were with us this past Sunday for our third birthday celebration, thanks for celebrating with us what God has done! Here’s to not just three more years of Jesus changing lives through His gospel, but countless years of seeing hundreds and thousands find Jesus and follow Him. (Glad you are on this journey with us!)

Giving Conclusion

Today on the blog, we conclude our short series on the topic of generosity. We’ve been walking through 2 Corinthians 9. And this week, we also finish with the last three verses (verses 13-15), which say…

“By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”

Let me help you get your bearings since we are jumping into the middle of one of Paul’s thoughts.

  • When he says “by their approval,” he is talking about the happiness of those who received the financial giving of the Corinthian Jesus-followers.
  • And the “service” he is referring to is the actual act of financial giving.

But I want you to see one thing, found in two places in these last three verses.

The first instance is in verse 13 when Paul says, “they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ.”

Those who receive the financial gift of your giving will glorify God. But notice what the motivation is behind the gift. It isn’t simply to make them happy. It isn’t to make them impressed. Your gift was given because of your obedience, your submission to God which flows from your identity in the gospel.

This means your giving isn’t a duty – it’s worship. It is to be a response to the person and work of Jesus.

That’s why Paul concludes this section with verse 15 (our second instance) – “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” God’s greatest gift was Jesus, who died on a cross for the payment of our sin. And when you realize how great His gift is, one of the ways you express your thanks is through giving. Because God gave so generously, we feel compelled to give generously.

This is why a Jesus-follower doesn’t just drop $10 in an offering plate on a Sunday morning as if he or she were paying for a movie and popcorn. Our giving (and I am talking about our FIST (finances, influence, skills, and time) not just money) is to be generous, extravagant, gospel-fueled, because of what God has done for us.

I want to see you experience this. I want Jesus to be Lord over your entire life, and that includes your finances.

This is why we are offering Financial Peace University. We want to help you get to a place where you can give freely, joyfully, and generously, and not be trapped in debt or unhealthy patterns. To sign-up for this nine-week class, simply email Jeff. It will be an investment you won’t regret. (Scholarships are available.)

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