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.

1 Timothy 6: 17

 

This verse seems to be rather straight forward at first. If you are someone who is blessed by an abundance of money and other financial resources, don’t become arrogant or proud because of them. For, from God’s perspective, they are not the things which will mark a life well lived. Easy and done; there is nothing else to say. Yet, my appreciation of Paul and the way that he thought and his expression of those thoughts all suggest that there has to be more for me to grasp from his statement. The word that Paul uses that is translated as rich, plousios, means exactly that; “abounding in material things”. However, it also means, “abundantly supplied as in virtues and eternal possessions”. I think that Paul is after the combination of these meanings and that he wants us to understand the tension that can exist between them.

 

He is clearly recognizing the fact that in almost every gathering of Christ’s body there are differences in the material wealth of the individuals, and these are often very great. Yet that wealth should not become the cause for any sense of superiority on the part of people, nor should it be something that those who have less should envy. It is a gift from God, and it is something that people can use as God directs their hearts. In fact, it would seem that the diversity of wealth in and among the body of Christ is one of the ways that God intends for His distribution of gifts and talents to be expressed. God provides each of us with tangible gifts that are intended to be used and expressed in and through His body for the glory of His name. Financial wealth, though not a spiritual gift, is still something that is a blessing from God as is the ability to hold that wealth with open hands and a giving heart.

 

This last idea applies to all of us. The ability to recognize the source of the provision of all of the things that we need to sustain and to enjoy life is a gift from God. He is the One who provides for us. There is nothing that we require that does not come from God and out of His design and plan. Each of us needs to realize that all of the wealth that we have belongs to the Lord and that we can trust God with the use of every penny and pound of it. God does not give to us in order to see us troubled or burdened. He is a Father who delights in our enjoyment of the gift. God wants us to live in the comfort of His abundance, and He is pleased when we are so comfortable in our trust of His provision that we readily give what we have to serve His will and desire.