The Truly Good Life

November 21, 2021 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: First Timothy - Guard the Deposit

Topic: Hope Passage: 1 Timothy 6:17–6:20

We all walk in our own shoes, and no two people walk the same path.  We have our own sorrows and joys, weaknesses and strengths.  And there are specific temptations and dangers that are unique to the pathway you are on, and the pathway I am on.  

The rich, the poor, married, single, the young, the old, pastors, parents, those blessed with beauty or athleticism or intelligence, those who are suffering - all have peculiar snares that accompany their life situation.  And we need to be aware of those dangers so that we are not ensnared by the devil.  Earlier in the book, Paul gave special instructions to younger widows to keep them from spiritual danger.  He gave instructions to Timothy to keep him spiritually safe as a young man in the ministry.

Here, Paul gives a special warning to those who are “rich in this present world”. This is addressed to CHRISTIANS who are rich.  Riches can be the blessing of God.  But there are unique dangers in that, that require special caution. 

Now, I know that most people, even if they are well off, do not consider themselves rich.  The rich are always those who have more than we have.  They are always someone else. Yet, people in Mozambique, or in most countries, would consider everyone of us rich, although we might not be rich by American standards.

But even if we are not rich, by any definition, these commands are things we all need to hear.  Don’t be haughty.  Do not put your hope in riches.  Put your hope in God. Look to God to supply you with joy.  Be rich in good works.  Store up treasure for yourselves for the future.   Is there anyone  who does not need to hear those things?

This instruction is for those rich IN THIS PRESENT LIFE.  This is a very important phrase!  Our life is lived in two parts. We live in this present life, then there is the life to come. Considering the brevity of this life, and the eternity of eternal life, being rich “in this present life” is not the be all, end all blessing, we tend to think it is.  Paul is not impressed by earthly riches, or with those who have them.  After all it is ONLY for this present life.  

Some who are poor in this life may be rich in the life to come.  And some who are rich in this life may not be rich in the things that lead to eternal treasures.  

Because of that, believers are instructed “to store up treasures for themselves as a good foundation for the future” (verse 19)  IE We are to primarily concern ourselves NOT with being rich in this present life, but with being rich “in the life to come”. This future wealth comes, Paul said, from living a life “rich in good works”.  

Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with being rich in this life.  It is one of the blessings that God gives to some.  Proverbs 10:22 “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich and he adds no sorrow to it”. David said, Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all.”  1 Chronicles 29:12  Any who have an abundance now should view it as the gift of God.

Yet all throughout the Bible, we are warned of the dangers of this blessing.  So Paul gives special instruction for the spiritual safety and benefit of those blessed with wealth.

*First: Warn “those who are rich in this present world” not to be haughty (or conceited).  It is a temptation to those who have done well at anything, to become proud. Those who have become wealthy often think they are above other people.  This is not only a spiritually dangerous way to think, it is completely false.  It is a denial of God’s grace and providence and goodness.  And presumes we are something we are not!

1 Corinthians 4:7 “For who considers you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you DID receive it, why do you boast as if you had NOT received it?”     

Stop and think! Who gave you life?  Who put you in your family, and in your country, at this time in history?  What if your were born in Somalia, or among the Barbarian tribes in northern Europe in 300AD?  Who gave you your mind and body?  Who gave you the health and energy to work?  Who arranged circumstances and opportunities for you. Who put you in contact with those people who helped you?  

Whatever you are, and whatever you have, you have by the grace of God. So we are not to consider ourselves above others in any way!

The apostle John said, one of the qualities of worldliness is the “boastful pride of life” or “pride in our achievements and possessions”. John said that “is not from the Father, but from the world”.   Any kind of swagger, conceit, boasting, self-importance is not of God, and has no place in the church. 

*Second warning: Do not set your hope on the uncertainty of riches. We are not to set our hopes and dreams on money and the things money can buy.  Hope is an expectation that good things are coming.  It is an expectation that something will make us happy.  Setting our hope in riches means we expect riches will make us happy. It is expecting riches to bring us the “good life”.  Paul said, “Don’t put your hope in that!   

First because of the “uncertainty of riches”.  Money is unreliable. Whatever you have today, you may not have tomorrow. You could lose it all! Money can be stolen, investments can be lost, things you buy with money deteriorate, get broken, or simply lose their value to you. Proverbs 23:5 When you glance at wealth, it disappears, for it makes wings for itself and flies like an eagle to the sky.

And that amount of money or that possession, that you think will make you happy, once you have it, it may not make you happy at all.  Or it may make you temporarily happy, then suddenly it doesn’t satisfy you any more.

*Secondly (we don’t set our hope in riches) because true happiness, and the truly good life come from God!  Paul said, “hope in God!... who richly supplies you with all things to enjoy”.  Our source of joy and happiness is God!  “SET your hope on God, for these things!

The other morning I was sitting alone with a cup of hot tea, the sun was coming up, I was doing my Bible reading, and feeling such a deep sense of peace and joy in God’s presence.  Money can’t buy that!  Psalm 36:8 says, “God gives us to drink of the river of his delights”.  God is a river of delights.  Is this the God you know?  Is this how you think of God?  One of the most dangerous places for a Christian to be is NOT enjoying God. I think most waywardness begins with an absence of joy in God. 

If you are NOT enjoying life, go to God! Ask him to show you his beauty and goodness and loving-kindness.  Psalm 37:4 commands us: “Delight yourself in the Lord”.  Be happy in him and all the has given you to enjoy!  Let him satisfy your heart.  When my life feels joyless, and everything just seems hard, I often simply ask God to give me joy or show me something to enjoy here in this situation, or to bring something joyful to me.  God is honored when we look to him for our joy!

Our ultimate joys are in eternal realities that cannot be taken from us.  We ALWAYS have a reason to rejoice IN the Lord, and in his goodness and unfailing love and faithfulness, his mercy and grace. But God also “supplies us with all things to enjoy”.  Psalm 145:16 “You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing”.  Psalm 103:5 “He satisfies you with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” 

Pleasure is NOT the ultimate goal of life, but God does want his people to enjoy things here and now!  In 1 Timothy 4 Paul said the pleasures of marriage and good food are things that “God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth”. (They are for Christians!) “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”  

Many people think of God as austere or downright stingy, or as a “hard man”, uncaring about the joy of his people.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Jesus said,  “Fear not little flock, you father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom”.  Romans 8:32 “How will he who did not spare his own Son, not also with him freely give us all things?” That is the heart of the Father.  God gives and delights to give.  The old hymn says, “For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”  

This would be a good question for the New City Catechism:  Who is God?  He is the God who give us all things to enjoy!  I hope and pray that is part of your understanding of who God is!  

*Next in Verse18 Paul said, “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”  Material riches are ONE KIND of riches, but God wants us to be rich in good works.  Money in the bank or stocks or owning property are not the best kind of riches.  We are to be rich in doing good.  

Part of the way we do that is by being generous and ready (or eager) to meet needs.  

*Paul said this leads to riches in the life to come. Verse 19 “thus, storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future”.  We are to do things NOW that store up treasure for the life to come.  But I’ve heard people say, “Isn’t that selfish, to work for eternal treasures or rewards?”. Or some say, “I don’t even like the idea of receiving a reward.  I just want to do what I do out of love for the Lord.” And some even reject the doctrine of eternal reward altogether.  Well.. certainly it IS the love of Christ that compels us and motivates us. 

BUT the motivation of eternal rewards, is taught all throughout the NT.  Jesus said to lay up treasure in heaven.  Moses did what he did, looking to the reward!  Hebrews 6 says, “The one who comes to God must believe that he  “is a rewarder of those who seek him”.  Looking for reward from God, is living a God-oriented life! It is demonstrating faith in God. It pleases God.  However...

Whenever we talk about rewards, we have to keep in mind that our BIG treasure, our massive reward is heaven itself! We will be in God’s presence, see his face, serve him, in perfect joy and peace forever.  This eternal safety and pleasure is fully purchased by the blood of Christ for all who know him!

But Christ and his apostles also taught that there are future rewards for Christians, according to what we have done here and now.  Jesus said, “I tell you, make friends for yourselves by how you use worldly wealth, so that when it runs out, they will welcome you to an eternal home.” (NET and NLT).  We can make friendships now that will endure into eternity.  Jesus said part of our reward will be those being there to welcome us to our heavenly home because of the way we have done good to them now. 

Paul said, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”   1 Corinthians 3:13,14 says, “Each one’s work will become evident, for the DAY will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  And if any one’s works remains he will receive a reward.  Paul exhorted obedience to those over us here on earth, “because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do”.  Eph. 6:8

So..instead of longing to be rich or richer, “in this present life” we should focus on laying up treasure (or reward) for the future by being rich in good works. 

God is telling us to consciously work for, and deliberately give ourselves to things that count for eternity.   We are to lay up treasure for the future, as consciously and deliberately as we would set aside money to save up for a car or house or a vacation, or for retirement.   

It is easy to live life entirely focused on getting up going to work, to earn more money, to buy groceries, to put gas in the car, to fix up the house, to take care of all the things of everyday life without hardly thinking of laying up treasure for ourselves as a foundation for the future. 

God does not condemn us for taking care of our daily mundane duties.  In fact we should be faithful in those things and do them as unto the Lord, knowing we will reward each one for whatever good each one does (Eph. 6)  

But we are not to live with our eyes looking down toward this world.  We are not to live only for this present life!  We are to lay up treasure for the future.  Paul said we do this by doing good, by being rich in good works, by being generous and ready to share.  

Notice how simple this is! (not easy but simple, uncomplicated, clear!)  The door is wide open for all of us to lay up treasure.  No special education or training is required. You do not have to be highly gifted!  The way is simple:  Do good!  Be kind to someone. Love someone. Serve somebody.  Lay down your life for the body of Christ. Share whatever you have.  Have your eyes open to needs and meet them.  Then do that a lot.

This way of living is not be done sparingly!  We are to be RICH in good works.  That means we do them in abundance! Do as much good as you can to as many as you can for as long as you can. 

*We are to live this way, “so that (we) may take hold of that which is truly life”.  Jesus said, “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15  Real life is knowing and enjoying God, then doing good to others.  It is loving God and loving people. Paul said, that’s how we take hold of that which is truly life.   

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