If You Are Rich


1 Timothy 6:17-19

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.


Obviously there were people within the church community of Ephesus who had financial resources. These people were also disciples of Jesus Christ and there were specific instructions to them. While having more resources than others may provide for certain opportunities in life, these people were not to be haughty. Even if they had riches they were not to trust in their material wealth, but to learn to trust in God. 

Just because someone is wealthy doesn’t mean that they are happy. Sometimes the burden of wealth can seem unbearable, but learning to trust in God provides an opportunity for enjoyment in life. This fosters a spirit of generosity where resources can be seen as a means of doing good. A sense of fulfillment is possible when one shares and invests in those things which will enhance the work of the kingdom of God. 


I’m afraid that often the church embraces a poverty mentality. Somehow we have accepted the idea that to have wealth we cannot be spiritual. While Jesus said that it was difficult, he also said that this was possible with the help of God. Therefore, we rejoice with those who have resources and who have learned what it means to be generous. 

If you read carefully about Jesus’ travels you discover that an entire team of people supports him. This includes a group of women who have financial resources and who provide the infrastructure food, etc. for the ministry. This is not unusual because we find the pattern repeated throughout church history. I often quote John Chrysostom, also known as the “Golden Tongue.” He was a great preacher in Constantinople near the end of the 4th century. His greatest supporter in ministry was a widow, Olympia, who was considered one of, or maybe the wealthiest citizen in the Roman Empire. When her husband passed away she inherited all of his earthly resources. She had become a Christian and used her resources to further the work of the kingdom. She financed much of Chrysostom’s ministry, but also had a great influence on others. We know that she also must have had a relationship with Gregory of Nyssa for her dedicates his Commentary on Song of Solomon to her. The wealthiest person in the Empire becomes the model of holiness. Yes, with God all things are possible!

If God has gifted you with resources, then use them for the sake of the kingdom. God may be wanting to leverage those resources to do much more than we could ever think or imagine. If, however, you are not one of those with resources, don’t look down on those who do. Don’t be afraid to associate with those who do, and make them feel just as welcome in the church as those who have nothing, for we are all members of the same family. Never take advantage of those who have resources, but let God speak to their hearts and allow them to develop the way in which they feel comfortable in giving and supporting the ministry. Just like family, don’t expect them to pay for everyone else. Everyone ought to pay their own way, and show respect for one another.

Let’s not believe that God expects us to be poor. Instead, let’s live into one of the motto’s of John Wesley’s life, “Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.” 


Lord, may your spirit of generosity overflow in and through our lives. Amen. 


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