Do you suffer from affluenza? Social scientists coined this term for our modern-day relationship with money and wealth. They define it as “a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.”
Paul had already warned Timothy about the danger of a love of money (6:10). Now, at the end of this letter, he addresses a question his previous teaching may have raised. What about people who are already rich? What should they do with their wealth? Paul gives three commands that address this question. First, he warns the rich “not to be arrogant” (v. 17). Wealth can lead to a puffed-up sense of security and importance. The world looks up to and respects the wealthy, a respect they can easily believe that they deserve. Second, Paul encourages the rich to put their hope in God, not in their wealth. In contrast to our faith in God, wealth is uncertain (v. 17). It can be here today and gone tomorrow, while God generously provides us with what we need (v. 17). Finally, Paul urges the rich to be generous and to use their wealth to “lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age” (v. 19). We should invest in ministry that has eternal value. Wealth is not to be rejected, but should be viewed from the proper perspective. As a good gift from God, it should be used to honor Him, not replace Him.
Paul ends the letter rather abruptly by giving Timothy a final encouragement not to be influenced by false teaching, but to guard the gospel, which has been entrusted to him (v. 20).
>> Think about your own “money story.” How do you relate to money? How do you use your money to glorify God? In this world, enmeshed in materialism, we should regularly evaluate our own giving practices and our personal relationship with wealth.
Praise the Lord for the truths we have learned so far this month. May these truths and the lessons we learned shape our lives and relationships at home, in the church, and at the workplace.