Summary: Take Hold of That Which Is Truly Life 1) Let go of your love for money; 2) Grasp on to your loving Saviour; 3) Let loose with acts of service.
“Now this is life!” Have you said anything like that while kicking back on vacation with fishing pole in hand, or while taking in the sweeping mountain views from your rented cabin, or while floating on an oversized rubber ducky at a pool somewhere warm? What is it about moments like that that move us to say: “This is life!” I think it’s the relaxation – the feeling that everything is all right with the world because we have left behind all our cares and concerns for the time being and are enjoying the beauty of our surroundings. Wouldn’t it be great if we could wake up every morning, even Mondays, and say, “Ahh, this is life!” We can, we will take hold of that which is truly life, says the Apostle Paul, when we let go of our love for money, grasp on to our loving Saviour, and let loose with acts of service.
At first glance today’s sermon text may not seem to apply to many, if any of us. After all Paul told Timothy: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth” (1 Timothy 6:17). It’s great that Paul wants Timothy to talk some sense into those rich people but what does that have to do with me? I’m not rich. Don’t think so? If you earn $50,000 a year (according to Stats Canada, the average family income in Alberta for 2005 was over $66,000), how rich do you think you are compared to everyone else in the world? If you earn $50,000 a year, you are richer than 98% of the world’s 6 billion people!! Don’t make $50,000 a year? All right. Let’s say you earn $1,500 a year, that’s $28 a week, you are still richer than 70% of the world’s population (figures from globalrichlist.com)! Since I suspect that even the average junior high student here makes at least $1,500 a year from babysitting, cutting lawns, and from their allowance, when Paul tells Timothy to speak to the rich, he’s talking about you and me and we better listen up.
So what does Paul have to say to us? First of all he tells us not to be arrogant. That’s one temptation that comes with money. We are tempted to look down on those who don’t have as much as we do because we figure they didn’t work as hard as we did to get what we have, or weren’t as smart as we were with investments. Our Old Testament lesson should have put a stop to that kind of thinking. Let me read again what Moses told the Israelites: “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17, 18a). We are among the richest people in the world because God blesses us, not because we are so smart or hardworking. I mean there must be people as smart and as hard working in countries like India and Malaysia but they don’t have the kind of wealth or standard of living we enjoy. Does this mean that God must love us more? Certainly not! He gives to each exactly what they need to survive. In fact Paul said in the verse before our text: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
It’s hard to be content with what we have. The tycoon, John D. Rockefeller Sr., said it well when he responded to the question of how much money it takes to make a man happy: “Just a little bit more.” And so we too think that if only we had a bit more money, life would be great. That’s why we need to hear Paul’s second warning about money. He said: “Command those who are rich…not to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).
The problem with money is…us! Money itself is not the problem; it’s a blessing from God - something God gives us to enjoy. But our love for money and our reliance on it turns it into a problem. Relying on money is foolish because one bad day on the stock market can wipe out thousands of dollars of your investments. If that’s what you’d been counting on for a comfortable retirement, how are you going to feel? You’ll feel devastated. You may not even think that life is worth living anymore.