sermon: The Uncertainty of Riches 1 Timothy 6:17-21

The Uncertainty of Riches

1 Timothy 6:17-21

Primary Truth Taught- We must not attach our hope to riches because they are uncertain instead, we must fix our hope on God who never changes.

Introduction

It seems that every few messages we hit on the subject of money, wealth, giving, and/or stewardship. I think there is a good reason for that. It’s not because I like to preach on the subject of giving. I don’t stay up at nights worrying about the finances of the church or if we’re going to be able to pay the bills. You do a good job and are faithful in giving. No, the reason we hit these subjects is because Jesus and Paul hit them. They do so quite frequently. In fact, we just a few weeks ago look at…

1 Timothy 6:9–10 (ESV)

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Here, the Apostle warns Timothy and all the church to be very careful when it comes to money, nit to love it too much, not to crave it or desire it too much. His point is that money can plunge us into deep trouble if we’re not careful.

We’re going to look at another facet of the dangers of wealth. Today, we’re going to be addressing, according to the text, the wealthy among us. Very quickly you might think, whew! I’m so glad I’m off the hook. I want to let you down gently here and explain that you are the ones Paul is addressing. We all are the wealthy spoken of here. Let me say it like this, the poorest person in our congregation on any given Lord’s Day is wealthier than the wealthiest in the First Century Church. Believe it or not you are wealthy and this passage is zeroing in on all of us and has us in its sights.

Human Need Met

Especially today in our very affluent culture, we need to understand how to handle money for God’s glory and our good. No where else are we going to get God’s take on wealth and how we are to handle it. This passage is for all of us and is God’s Word of peace to each of us today. God is protecting us from the pitfalls that can come with mismanaging money. The reality here is that God wants us to use all the money we have in a godly way, not just the 10 percent that makes up our tithe.

God would you open our eyes and give us ears to hear and minds to grasp Your Word today.

1 Timothy 6:17–21 (ESV)

17 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. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 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.

20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

Grace be with you.

 

  1. The Uncertainty of Riches

17 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.

The first command from the Apostle to us is not to allow wealth to make us haughty. Money can cause us to be selfish and prideful. It changes who we are. The old saying to those acquiring wealth and fame…Don’t forget where you came from.

We say that because money changes who we are. We have to be very careful.

One thing we must get is that the Apostle, speaking for God wants to redirect our thinking when it comes to money. Paul is showing the church how to view money and how to use money. Our default setting is to accumulate more and more money and the more we have the more secure we think we are. By contrast, the less we have the less secure we think we are. That’s the problem.

Money, wealth, riches (that we all possess) is uncertain. Why would we ever trust in something uncertain? When I use the word trust, I mean we often trust money so strongly that is has a mysterious deadening effect on us. It deceives us, and begins to lie to us.

Our hope must be in the God who gave us wealth, not the wealth God gave[1]

So, sometimes we have misguided hope. It connects to the wrong thing. In our fallen sinfulness we often are tempted to find security in created things and not the Creator.

In the Bible we have an example of a man who had misguided hope. He trusted in his wealth…
Luke 12:13–21 (ESV)

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

The rich man thought his life was dependent on the abundance of his possessions. His hope was in what he had not in the God who gave it. In fact, he thought he was the one who gave it to himself…look at all my crops, my barns, my stuff…

It is possible to be rich and still remain true and faithful to God.

Isn’t this the test of Job? Job was a man of fabulous wealth. By the way, that’s one proof that being wealthy and being godly are not mutually exclusive. Here was the wealthiest man of his age, and he loved God. But what did Satan say to the Lord? Satan said to the Lord, ‘If You take away what You’ve given him, Lord, he’ll curse you to the face!’
Now, Job didn’t. Why? Because Job’s hope was in the God who gave him wealth, not the wealth that God gave him. But that is an exceedingly difficult thing for those who have much to see the difference between, because when we have much, our focus is often on the much that we have, and not the One who gave us the much. And so Paul says, ‘Christian, if God has given you much, be sure that your hope is in the One who gave, is in the Giver and not in the gift–what the Giver has given.’[2]
The key then for all of us who are tempted to trust money, is to remember that only God is certainty…
2. The Certainty of God
To set their hopes on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
You see how it works? It is God who is trustworthy and appropriate to place all our hope in. He never changes, He is not going anywhere, He is not stolen by the theif, or rusts away or eaten by moths like riches and stuff are. In fact, we must remember that God is the fountain of life. The rich fool thought his money brought him life but only God brings us life. He alone is the One who… richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
Here, the word enjoy doesn’t mean self-indulgent but blessed by and therefore thank God for His provisions.
So, the main difference and the safeguard to placing one’s hope in riches is to realize Who has supplied the riches and so then place your trust in God alone.

  1. Letting Go and Taking Hold

18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 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.

Notice, Paul gives three different commands to those who are rich. Remember, he’s speaking to us…

  1. Teach them to use their wealth for good. Rather than spending all their money on themselves, God wants the rich to strategically use their money for good.
  2. Teach the rich that they should be rich toward God. I really think Paul had Jesus’ parable of the rich fool in mind here. He maintains that those who are physically wealthy must make sure they are also spiritually wealthy, or as he says, rich toward God…
    20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
  3. Teach them to be generous and share. This is God’s desire for all of His people. Share generously. I pray you realize that our Lord’s statement that you are more blessed to give than to receive. I pray we believe and experience the joy of giving to others generously.

Notice what is really taking place when we do good, give generously and are rich toward God…

19 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.

As we do these things, we are placing treasure in heaven where it will be waiting for us for all eternity. That is what good investing looks like.

Notice, we get money from God to be used for good. When we use it for good we have great joy here and now. Then it is turned into a heavenly currency, which will be with us for all eternity. It is called a treasure in heaven. That is how God wants us to use money.

Then, as we let go of wealth in this life our hand is free to take hold (there’s that word again) of what is truly life.

15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

In other words, wealthy Christians must take hold of real life, not just that which merely appears to be the life.
Well, Paul’s saying something like that. He’s saying it’s possible to look at worldly wealth and say, “That’s the life!” to imbibe the philosophy that says “he who dies with the most toys wins.” And Paul says that’s not wealth, it’s poverty. Cultivate riches of the kind that endure forever. Take hold of real life, not just that which appears to be the life. It’s in the kingdom that the only true life is found: it’s in seeking first the kingdom, and the things and the righteousness of the kingdom, that all things are added to us. But when we seek after the “all things” we lose the kingdom.[3]

 

  1. Guard the Priceless Deposit

20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

Grace be with you.

In keeping with the concept of using money wisely, Paul reminds Timothy that God has made a deposit that he is responsible to oversee. We must realize that the money we have is not ours but belongs to God, we are just stewards of it. He carries the same idea through into the spiritual realm and looks at the deposit God has made with Timothy. The deposit is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The deposit must be kept pure. Just like we are to use our money wisely and not hoard it, we are to not hoard the deposit God has given us either.

We must spend the Gospel wisely. We must give it away generously. We must share with others what has been entrusted to us.

Application

I want to say that the Christian’s use of money shows where their true love and affections lie. Jesus knows this truth…
Luke 12:32–34 (ESV)

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

When you spend wisely, give generously, and share with others your affections transfer from the money and what you can buy for yourself to the God who has left you a portion of wealth to oversee. Your heart is free to treasure Jesus, because there is a dynamic that connect your heart to your treasure. When you release some of your wealth you can be joyful because you’ve released your heart to find it’s true treasure Jesus Christ.

I love the prayer offered by Agur in Proverbs 30…

Proverbs 30:7–9 (ESV)

   Two things I ask of you;

deny them not to me before I die:

   Remove far from me falsehood and lying;

give me neither poverty nor riches;

feed me with the food that is needful for me,

   lest I be full and deny you

and say, “Who is the Lord?”

       or lest I be poor and steal

and profane the name of my God.

 

[1] Ligon Duncan

[2] Ligon Duncan

[3] Ligon Duncan

%d bloggers like this: