“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. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
Where do you store things that you are not using and haven’t used in the last year? Do you have stuff in your attic or a storage unit that you are keeping without a specific reason? Saving furniture for the kids to use when they get their first apartment is a reason for keeping it. But many of us have things that we don’t need, don’t use, and won’t need in the future. So why do we keep these things? Materialism can become a religion when we put too much emphasis on material possessions and implied security.
1 Timothy 6 is addressed to the wealthy, but I think that this is also the best advice for the poor, who may spend their days thinking about what they do not have. None of us should set our hopes on wealth, which is uncertain. One of the mistakes Christians make is to trust in God’s gifts and blessings more than in God himself. Material wealth pales in comparison to God’s grace and presence in our lives. As usual, the gospel view turns the secular view upside-down; instead of rejoicing and trusting in great possessions, our possessions can become a hindrance to our rejoicing and trusting in God. As long as we are focused on what we can get, we cannot focus on what we can give away. It’s one or the other; we’re either takers or givers. When reading Paul’s proclamation that God who richly provides for us everything to enjoy, we could easily picture a child with hands outstretched receiving an abundance of goodness to overflowing.
As we receive from God, we should be ready to give to others, so that they may receive from us, investing in our future together, our treasure in heaven. Holding onto wealth or power to have a superior life, will prove fleeting. No matter how we plan and save and work, only God knows what circumstances may occur that will wreck our plans. Unexpected injuries and illnesses, spouses who are unfaithful, siblings who become addicted to drugs or alcohol, daughters who become pregnant while in their teens, or sons who end up in jail are only a few of the problems that money cannot solve. However, the costly forgiveness of Christ and the peace that comes with his intercession is a treasure that will yield transformation and transcendence beyond the world’s temporary advantages.
Are you storing up treasure for yourself in Christ or grasping at what the world offers, knowing it is fleeting? Or are you giving to others generously and wisely, being rich in good works?