Title: A Word for the Rich Text: 1 Tim 6:17-19 CIT: Paul has some instructions for the rich. CIS: We’re all rich in the present world. We should use it wisely.
I was reading John Calvin’s commentary on this particular passage of the pastorals and noted his comments about the Catholic Church. 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them (1) not to be haughty, (2) nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but (3) on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are (4) to do good, (5) to be rich in good works, (6) to be generous and (7) 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.
And this is from Calvin’s commentary: The inference Roman Catholics draw from this passage, that through good deeds we merit eternal life, is exceedingly foolish. Catholics? Think about Calvin’s culture – the political climate. At the time of this writing, it has been but 39 years since Martin Luther pinned his 95 theses to the church at Wittenberg. It made me think. As I read this passage, “am I filtering what I was taking in through my 2019 filter?” The principle is the same: there are those who think they shall be saved by their good works through giving monetarily. And there is leadership in the evangelical church today who buy into that philosophy. Not because they give like that, but because they’re profiting from it.
I’m reminded of Luke’s account of the widow and her two mites. Oftentimes preachers use that passage to encourage sacrificial giving. But, the truth of the passage is that Jesus was condemning the practice of religious leaders who were selfishly taking advantage of widows and other disadvantaged people. Don’t forget, this is the very thing Paul has accused the false teachers of doing. Two weeks ago in my message Four Features of False Teachers, we talked about how these false teachers were in the ministry for financial gain. Last week, in my message of Paul’s encouraging words to Timothy, we saw Paul encourage Timothy not to be like them.
Now, Paul turns his attention to the wealthy who were being targeted by the false teachers. But, like Calvin did in the 1500’s we’ve got to ask ourselves,
- What does the Scripture say?
- What does that mean?
- And what does that mean for us today? Or, what should we do in light of this information?
This is what Calvin did: He identified what the Scripture said and meant and was able to condemn the wicked practices of the Roman Catholic Church in his day. Jesus was setting an example for his men and for us by doing just that.
Grammatically, in the following three verses, we find 7 admonitions through a single imperative in these three verses: rd v 17-19
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them (1) not to be haughty, (2) nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but (3) on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are (4) to do good, (5) to be rich in good works, (6) to be generous and (7) 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.
Transition: I’ve outlined these 7 infinitives in the following manner:
- What the rich shouldn’t do
- What the rich should do
- What the rich should expect
Transition: So, let’s look at what Paul outlines for us first…
1. What the rich shouldn’t do
- imperative: urge, command, charge; 1 Tim 1:3;
- instruct (NASB) …not really, didactic flavor;
- command (NIV) 4:11 (command and teach these things); 5:7 (command); here’s where I’m going with this: some scholars really back off on this, I think the translators do, too. Why? because some people get uncomfortable (upset) when you talk about money. Why would this word mean ‘command’ when Paul’s not talking about money and when it gets to money, why is it changed to charge or instruct or urge? I think we must consider that Paul is telling Timothy, it is an imperative of command, command these people, who, those who are rich in this present age. Command them to what? 7 admonitions here, the 1st two which are negative:
- these admonitions are expressed through infinitives;
1. To not be haughty; compound word used only here, ὑψηλός (hypsēlos) – high; and φρονέω (phroneō) – mindset or thinking; but is used as two separate words in Rom 11:20 (12:16); proud; pride, that is what Paul is teaching against here; financial success breeds pride;
ill.: The Notebook: Allie was from a rich family who fell in love with a poor, blue-collar worker. They were both young and she was naïve; Allie brings her boyfriend home to meet the family and a bunch of guests. He is treated as an inferior. They were condescending and rude to him. We saw the same thing in the movie Titanic when Rose’s family is so rude to Jack. No doubt you’ve seen it along the way, in your life. Maybe at school? You see the rich kids act arrogant and haughty just because Mom and Dad come from money.
app.: is every rich person haughty? No, most definitely not! Lisa and I know very wealthy people. I’ve got one friend who drives the same old pickup that doesn’t have any bells and whistles. You have to use a handle to roll the window down! He and his wife live in the same house they raised their kids in. The same small house they built when they didn’t have money. We have other wealthy friends who are kind and generous and humble.
But riches can produce a haughty spirit! It must have been that way in Ephesus; at least on some level, because Paul cautions them to not be haughty; 2nd, …
- To not hope in riches; which are uncertain; money, success, these things are fleeting;
ill.: Have you ever found yourself thinking “what if I just had this money, I’d be o.k.”; remember this: if money can fix it, it ain’t a problem! It isn’t that being rich is bad, it’s the idea of putting your hope in being rich. For most of us though, I don’t think in our culture, in our day, in our age, in USA 2019, I don’t think the problem is the lack of money or wealth. For us, it is the abundance of debt.
app.: Don’t be proud and haughty, Don’t place your hope in riches
t.s.: but instead…and this is 2nd area of instruction:
2. What the rich should do:
- To set your hope on God; why? He’s already given a good reason,
- Because riches are uncertain; but now he gives another…
- Because God richly provides everything for us to enjoy (pleasure). This casts light on the garden. God provides everything for us to enjoy. And, he gives us guidelines to enjoy them by. Paul is using his linguistic skills to communicate that God provides. Πάντα – all things;
Transition: now these next four actions are a natural flow from the life of one who realizes his riches are a gift of God. rd 18a;
- To do good; this word ‘good’ – ἀγαθοεργεῖν; only here and in Acts 14; a compound word – Agatha – perfect (when in relation to God) good or right (when in relation to people) and ergon – work; which is what Paul says in Ephesians, that we were created to do: And he grows on this statement…rd 18b;
- To be rich in good works; another play on the word rich; rd 18c; Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- To be generous, which is another progressive step in this progression that someone experiences when s/he realizes the riches s/he has are a gift of God…no matter where one is financially speaking.
- To be ready to share; this word ‘share’ has the same root as the Gk word koinonia. κοινωνικός (koinōnikos); remember I began with Calvin’s comments on the Catholic church and mentioned how he filtered his reading through his culture? Well, listen to what he writes next: It is true that everything given to the poor is acceptable to God, but since the very best of us hardly manage to accomplish one-hundredth of our duty in this connection, our generosity hardly deserves to be taken into account of by God. In fact, he writes, should God call us to account, everyone would be found wanting, as we are so far from giving all we should.
ill.: Gary Waddington, a pastor in Billings, MT, tells the following story: Several years ago, when I was ministering in a small rural community, we had extra food leftover from our Christmas basket. I happened to think of a poor family who lived at the edge of town. I packed up the food and drove to their house.
I am never sure how one goes about “doing charity” while preserving the dignity of those who receive the charity. When the woman, surrounded by her several children, answered the door, I thought of a subtle way to offer the food to her.
I asked, “Do you know anyone who could use some extra food?”
“You bet,” she said and got her coat, headed toward her car saying, “Follow me.”
She took me to people who were poorer than her, people who desperately needed food. Even though she herself needed food, I remember clearly that there was absolutely no hesitation on her part.
Being rich is relative…so is being poor; I guess it all depends on who you compare what you have with; For some people though, giving is second nature.
t.s.: and when it is…look at what Paul says the rich should expect…
3. What the rich should expect:
- The Result of Faithfulness: the rich will lay a good foundation for the future; εἰς τὸ μέλλον; lit.: into the about (to be); Mello is translated ‘about’: it is used to describe an event that is yet to take place, but is ‘about’ to happen; ex.: Zacchaeus, climbed a sycamore tree because Jesus was ‘about’ to pass by; Jesus in describing the end times; the wrath to come; someone is ‘about’ to die; something is about to happen; This is used of the apocalypse; the return of Jesus; when Paul says, the rich will lay a good foundation for the future, he’s referring to heaven, the about to be event; Oh, I wish I could think eschatologically in all my ways, dealings, and efforts.
- The Reason for Faithfulness: in order to grasp the true or real (ontos) life, eschatological, eternal life. Paul isn’t saying that by being generous with their riches that they will earn their way into heaven. No, by living a generous, share-your-wealth lifestyle, the rich are grasping that this place is just something we’re passing through to something much more wonderful.
Conclusion: This week Debbi Raney’s mom, Marie Freeman passed away. It was so encouraging to hear her testimony of faith. The passage the pastor shared was from 2 Corinthians 5, where Paul says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. It was an open casket, so we saw Mrs. Freeman. But, not really! She wasn’t there anymore. The tent she used as a body had been shed and she was now in the presence of her savior. To say she had died, was really misleading, for she is more alive now than she’s ever been. She’s in the ‘about to be’ place.
What filters do you view the world through? Do you see the world in your life, Tyler, Texas, 2019? Or do you view it through eternity…knowing that all you have is a gift? I hope you’ll see it through God’s eyes and…use it for His glory!
Take-a-way: In whatever you find your circumstance or situation in life, may you be found faithful.