What would we stand to gain if we could lose a greed-mentality that is never satisfied with what we have?
1 Timothy 6:17-19 (CEB)
17 Tell people who are rich at this time not to become egotistical and not to place their hope on their finances, which are uncertain. Instead, they need to hope in God, who richly provides everything for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others. 19 When they do these things, they will save a treasure for themselves that is a good foundation for the future. That way they can take hold of what is truly life.
Unpack it! Along with Titus and possibly Philemon, the two letters to Timothy are called “Pastoral Letters” of Paul. Though scholars debate whether Paul wrote these letters himself or if a later church leader wrote them in his style, these letters were written to specific persons for the purpose of guiding them in leadership as pastors in the early church. Since 1 Timothy was written by Paul or in his style, it is interesting that the verses above are in the final conclusion of the letter. Normally, Paul would end his letters with a stroke of positivity or hopefulness or gratitude for the church or person he was writing. Here, the author issues a stern warning against reliance on wealth and greediness. This highlights just how important this issue was seen to be, even 2000 years ago in the early church.
Discussing the Text
The author tells Timothy not to allow wealth to give him a big ego or a false sense of security. Do you ever find yourself putting more faith in your wallet than in your God?
This passage is an excellent example of the Christian faith not vilifying wealth itself. Verse 18 makes clear that having wealth can actually be a means of doing great good for God’s kingdom. How do you practice generosity in your own life? In what ways could you be more generous?
The author says that living generously builds a “good foundation” for the future. What do you think he means? Is he talking only about the joys of heaven? How can generosity lead to the best life here on earth as well?
Questions for a Deeper Faith
Is it hard for you to trust that God will provide what you need? Why or why not?
When we think about giving away our money, the natural human thing is to think about what we could spend that money on for ourselves. We think of it in terms of what we’re losing. What could you gain if you were more generous with your resources? What could the others around you gain through your generosity?
Many worthy groups and causes ask for donations regularly these days. Why is it important to give to your church?
Do you have a story of a time when generosity changed the way you lived or improved your life or faith? Share it with the group.
Thank you for all the ways you provide for our needs.
Open our eyes to the areas of our life in which we can be more generous.
Teach us to seek for ways in which radical generosity can change our life and relationship with you.