It is that time of year! You have heard us talk about “The Heart of the Giver” for the past two weekends in worship now. You got your financial commitment card in the mail. And this weekend is Consecration Weekend, where we will all turn in our commitment cards in worship. If you have been at Bethany more than a couple years, this probably feels like a familiar rhythm that happens each October. Part of the reason that we make this a regular topic of conversation is because our finances are not just a matter of spreadsheets and bank statements. For followers of Jesus, how we deal with money is an important part of our life with Christ. Consider what Paul tells Timothy about those who are rich:
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)
Paul knows that having a lot of money can make it harder for us to place our trust in God. While many of us see the word “rich” and think about people who have more than we do, it is important that we don’t just consider “rich” as a relative term. There is a temptation some people face when they have enough money to be comfortable, and there is another temptation others face when they want to reach a certain financial status. All of us are tempted in one way or another to place our hope in other things instead of God, the only true source of living hope. For this reason, we continue to bring this up every year.
Paul is not just naming money as a temptation in the passage above, however. He is providing a way to deal with this temptation as well. First, Paul tells us to set our hope on God because God is the one who provides us with everything we need. Every time we gather for worship or approach God in personal prayer time, this is an opportunity to claim God as our hope and thank God for his generous provision in our lives.
The second remedy Paul gives us is the call to not focus just on being rich in money, but to strive to be rich in good works. He elaborates on what this looks like: be generous and ready to share. This is one of the ways that we prepare ourselves for the life that is truly life. Paul is recommending generosity and sharing what we have as a spiritual practice that guards against temptation and helps us live into a more full life in Christ. Giving is a means of grace that allows God to transform us in deeper and more profound ways.
So as you fill out your commitment card and bring it to worship this weekend, I want to encourage you to do this not just as a routine obligation, but to take Paul’s words to heart that recommend generosity as something that is good for our souls. If you sense your heart pushing against this truth, that’s OK. Spend some time in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 and ask God to speak into your life and help you on the journey. Here’s some questions you can consider if you are wanting go deeper:
- In what ways do you need to place your hope in God instead of the riches of the world?
- How is God calling you to practice generosity this coming year so that you can “take hold of that which is truly life”?