Summary: Paul’s advice on how to handle your money before it handles you. Four specific attitudes we are to exhibit.
“Surviving Financial Challenges: How to Handle Your Money Before It Handles You”
Finances can be a great challenge for all of us. Or, perhaps I should say, MOST of us. One guy said: “I never worry about money. I have enough to last me the rest of my life – unless I buy something.” Maybe you heard me tell before about the wife who had been working over next year’s budget, poring over figures all night. She came out to her husband, who was sitting in the family room watching TV, and said, “Well I’ve worked out the budget, now you work out a raise.”
I guess he decided he would have a go at the budget so he worked on it the next night. He came into the kitchen and told her, “Well, I’ve worked it out but I need a little help. I’ve figured what we’ll need for food, clothing, and shelter. We have a choice of any two.”
The closing verses of this first letter to Timothy contain some of the greatest teaching in the Bible on the use and abuse of money and possessions. Since all that we have actually belongs to God, we are responsible to manage what He has entrusted to us. How are we to handle and use the wealth God has given us? Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has four guidelines for us here in 1 Timothy 6.
He had already written about the dangers of the love of money in verses 9 and 10. Now, he returns to the subject with a special charge to the rich.
Earlier, he had addressed those wanting to be rich, now he speaks to those who actually are. Of course, none of us being wealthy, we can skip over this section. Or can we? Wealth is relative. Donald Trump wouldn’t see me as wealthy, but 90% of the world’s population would, so he is speaking to us.
17 Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need; always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life.
Please notice here that the rich are not condemned or denounced, they are merely warned. They are not told to give all their wealth away, they are simply told how to use it and how not to.
The duties of the rich are four-fold. First, they are to …
I. BE HUMBLE.
Verse 17 states, “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty.” Actually Paul says, “keep instructing,” not merely “tell” and the matter is ended. Paul knew that materialism is so deceitful that we must constantly be warned about it.
It is so easy to be caught up in the materialism of this age. Awhile back some hoodlums broke into a Los Angeles department store. They didn’t steal or destroy anything; they just had a wonderful time -- switching price tags. The next morning, customers were puzzled and delighted to find fur coats selling for $5.00. Cold cream was priced at $150.00, a silver service for $1.75, and a pair of ladies hose for $390.00. There were umbrellas for $1,000.00 and diamond rings for $2.00.
Has this happened in our lives? Has materialism crept in and switched the price tags? Are the things of time of more value to us than the things of eternity? Are material gifts worth more than spiritual gifts? We need this constant reminder against materialism.
Sometimes we think of the early church as composed entirely of poor people and slaves. But there were wealthy members who were rich “in this present age” -- in contrast to the age to come. A person may be rich here and in poverty in the age to come.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is a case in point. The rich man feasted sumptuously every day while the poor man had to beg at his door. But after death it was just the opposite. Abraham told the rich man, “during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish.” (Lk 16:19-31)
But a person can be rich both here and in the age to come -- and that’s what Paul is trying to point out here. The rich are usually in a higher class socially. They then tend to develop a superior attitude ... often deluded into thinking that wealth is a mark of Divine favor. Earthly wealth brings a sense of achievement and success ... it also brings power and privilege. The rich face some temptations that the poor don’t face ... and one of the main ones is haughtiness and pride.