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.

I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God!

Deuteronomy 32: 3

 

This statement is a part of the grand and beautiful poem that makes up a large part of Moses’ last words to the people who he had lead out of captivity and to the brink of their God-ordained and granted home of dwelling. Although Moses, himself, knows that he will die in a very short amount of time, he is still concerned with the way that he is passing along God’s legacy. These words form a final, summary statement of intent for every breath that he still has to breath and a charge and a challenge to all that were listening that day and to every one of us who reads these words through the rest of time.

 

The idea of proclamation that he gives us is intriguing. How do we do this? We can certainly stand on street corners and shout out God’s name. That works, at least it draws attention in some places. In our world this probably looks like using our smart phones to tweet the message to those hundreds or even thousands of truly close friends that we have in our electronic universe. Perhaps the name of the Lord is proclaimed by our political rhetoric or by the stickers that we place on our cars, and maybe He is glorified by the money that we give and in the good works that we perform. All of these can be true, but I suspect that Moses had something more in mind.

 

It seems that the very best way for people to proclaim God’s name in our world is found in the way that we live. This starts in our most private moments. It begins in the interactions that we have with those who are closest to us, and it is founded upon our relationship with the very One whose name we seek to shout. God’s true name is love, mercy, compassion, patience, truth, and righteousness. His greatness is memorialized by self-sacrifice and humility. When people move out of themselves and their definition of what is needful in our world and engage the hard, messy and pervasive needs of humanity that God’s Spirit leads us to, then His name rings from the mountaintops. As we still our need to be heard and listen with our hearts to Christ’s voice of reason and peace, the greatness of God, His glory, is visible in our world.

It is the glory of God to conceal things,

but the glory of kings is to search things out.

Proverbs 25: 2

 

Personally I haven’t encountered any kings recently; in fact, if you disallow meeting people with titles such as “King of the Winterfest”, I have never actually met a king. This is true in a literal earthly sense. Yet I think I understand what the writer of this proverb was getting at. God is not careless with His wisdom. He knows that many people will simply laugh at the way that He tells us that they should live. It doesn’t seem to gain them any advantage, and it is too hard to maintain through all of the seasons of life. God also knows that we humans have a really hard time appreciating and valuing things which come our way too easily. So, despite the fact that entering into a relationship with God through Christ is quite simple to do, until we recognize our need we usually don’t do anything about it.

 

Yet God, the one True King, finds glory in the hiddenness of His truth. When people want to know how to live in a manner that is sustainably uplifting and that brings peace into our world, we need to search into the deeply concealed places. In effect we need to go mining for gold. We must work hard and dig deep while watching closely for the signs of hidden treasure and listening to the voice of God as He leads the search. God is glorified when people listen attentively to Him and follow His way of living closely. When we choose to make God the ruler of our lives and live with praise for His loving grace on our lips, we bring knowledge of Him to our land.

 

We become like the kings that God wants to ordain to rule when we search out His wisdom and choose to follow it. That doesn’t mean that we have the power to tell others what to do and how to live. We gain no control or status over others by following God. In fact, like Christ, we need to give away our positions of safety and might and accept humble submission to God as our new normal. Yet this is exactly what God seeks in an earthly king. He wants to bring us into His glory by showing us His truth and by equipping and empowering us to do His will. There is no greater mark of God’s ordination on an earthly ruler than to have that person bring justice and righteousness to others. God commissioned humanity to take dominion, to rule, over a broken world. He sends each of us into that world to bring the glory of His image to all of it that we touch.