Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1 Timothy 6:17-21 Commandments for the Rich

17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 20 O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge— 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.

The Apostle Paul now commands those who are rich not to be haughty. That is for the rich not to think more highly of themselves, or those like them, than their poor brethren. For In Christ ones earthly stature, appearance; natural attributes or giftedness here and now means nothing in regards to ones usefulness for, and or standing in the Kingdom of heaven (consider 1 Cor. 1:26-31). Indeed the N.T. Scriptures do not cast a favorable light on those who are "rich" and wealthy now. Especially those who have an arrogant or indifferent attitude towards their fellow poor brethren (consider Jesus' Words in Luke 6:20-26; Matt. 25:31-46). Again the Scriptures warn of a generation whose eyes are haughty and whose eyes are lifted up; whose glances are ever disdainful towards others (Prov. 30:13 NKJ; NIV); who basically do not see themselves and their sins as they really are (Rev. 3:14-22). Or maybe they have forgotten how they were washed by the blood of Christ and cleared of all their sins by what He has done, not by what they are, do, or have done. In 1 Corinthians 4:7 the Apostle Paul explicitly asks in regards to salvation: “What makes you better than anyone else? “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it,why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

Again haughtiness seems quite particular to those who are rich now; whose wealth by nature empowers them, and or raises them up in a societal standing sense; but never in the eyes of God (consider Job 34:19; 1 Sam 2:3; 7). Thus arrogance more readily finds the rich or those who think by their own skills and wisdom they excel others (please consider Ecc. 9:11-12 and the antithesis of haughtiness Matt. 5:3). Now the the word the Apostle Paul uses in commanding the rich not to be haughty appears only here and in Rom. 11:20 . Being used there to warn all Gentile believers not to be haughty towards the Jews because some of them were broken off so that believing Gentiles could be grafted into God’s vine. For it is only by the grace of God that both poor and rich (whether Jew or Gentile) enter into the Kingdom of God. Therefore in Romans 12:16 we are exhorted: “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” The Apostle James also commanded: 9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits. James 1:9-11

Therefore in light of the coming day of the Lord and the Lord Jesus’ own life's example of humility, as well as the current economic disparity that exits not only in church congregations, but around the world. It seems incredibly non Christ like for those whom God has financially blessed now to be haughty, especially in the presence of those who are poor (Consider Isaiah 2:11-12; Luke 6:20-26).

“For thus says the High and Lofty One
Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
With him who has a contrite and humble spirit,
To revive the spirit of the humble,
And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15
Now the next part of the Apostle Paul’s exhortation is that the rich are not to trust in their riches, but in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Having wealth then is not sinful. Rather as the Lord Jesus warns it is the place riches have in ones heart. For when mammon supplants God, or ones fellow person's well being, than that is a grave sin (Matt. 6:19-24; Luke 12:16-21; 16:14-15; 19-31; Col. 3:5). Therefore the Scriptures throughout warn about in trusting riches, and the effects thereof; for riches are transient, but God is eternal (Deut. 8:11-20; Ps. 49:1-20; 52:1-9; Prov. 11:4, 23:4-5; Ecc. 5:13-15; James 1:9-11 antithesis Psalm 32:10).
“He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like foliage.” Prov. 11:28

Now in saying that, those who have riches and who keep their trust in God, should richly enjoy all things that God gives us to enjoy. Just as the Scriptures declare:
“The blessing of the Lord makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it.Prov. 10:22
Now it is fitting that the Apostle Paul though stating that God gives us richly all things to enjoy, also enjoin those who are rich to be “…rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” vs. 18-19 

Not as a means to salvation but that they lay up for themselves ( ejpilambavnomai) a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life (vs. 19). Investing in the Kingdom of heaven (in all of its diverse activities) as the Lord Jesus said is the wisest use of one’s resources here and now. Consider Jesus’ parable of the rich fool who laid up treasures for himself but forgot about God (Luke 12:12-21); or the rich man and Lazarus, where the rich man lived his life in luxury while ignoring the impoverished man who was literally right outside his door (Luke 16:19-31); or as a contrast the wise Stewart, who used his master’s possessions to bless others and thus endeared himself to many friends, who would receive him for eternity (Luke 16:1-13). Therefore the Apostle’s command here is to direct those are rich into good and generous works rather than just living a life of self indulgence. For a greedy follower of the Lord Jesus Christ is an oxymoron (Prov. 13:7; Luke 16:14-15; James 2:14-18; 1 John 3:17).

Vs. 20-21 The Apostle Paul concludes his letter to Timothy by urging Timothy to guard the Spiritual truth’s that have been committed to his trust by avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge “by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.”  

The warning being not just for Timothy and his congregations but for us all who believe in Jesus and receive the Word of God by faith. For there are many false and misleading teachings out there that though appearing spiritual or use spiritual language have nothing to do with the Spirit of God, or the Word of God. Therefore be discerning and beware, for if it contravenes the Scriptures or rips them them out of their contexts to support or justify someones sins or sinful desires than there not from God.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville:Thomas Nelson, 1982

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