Pentecost 21 October 25, 2020
1 Timothy 6:17-19
2 Chronicles 26:3-21
27, 371:1-4, 371:5-7, 179
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
+ In the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen. +
In the name of Christ Jesus who became poor so that through His poverty you might become rich,
What does it mean to you to be rich? Someone once gave the definition of “rich” as having a lot of something. For instance, those who are financially rich have a lot of money. After hearing that definition, a farmer replied that he had a lot of junk on his farm, so that must mean he was rich in junk.
Usually when we hear of riches, though, we think of having an excessive amount of money— more than one needs just to get by for the day. Throughout Scripture we have many warnings about riches. See if these verses are familiar from 1 Timothy 6: “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. 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.” (6:9-10)
Judas loved money more than he loved Jesus. In the parable of the Rich Fool, a farmer with a bumper crop used his wealth only for himself. We heard in our Old Testament lesson of King Uzziah, whose reign started out very promising but who, as he grew in wealth, also grew proud and sinned against God. And who can forget the picture Jesus paints when He says it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.
Certainly, there is a great spiritual danger with riches. Hear these things we may begin to think that riches are the problem. But that is not the case at all. Both the silver and the gold are God’s. Riches are not sinful in and of themselves, but rather what the sinful human heart does with those riches. The LOVE of money, not money in and of itself, is the root of all kinds of evil. It may be easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven, but Jesus also reminds us in those same verses that “with God nothing is impossible.”
Our text today specifically addresses those who are wealthy in earthly things right now. As we discuss wealth this morning our focus is not only on our bank accounts, but on the riches of our God and how we can be rich to others through the things God has given us. The Word of God for our meditation today is from 1 Timothy chapter 6, verses 17 through 19:
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 (ESV)
So far God’s holy Word.
“Dictionary.com” defines “rich” as “having wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds.” “Abundantly supplied with” something. With that definition our look at riches has to begin with the richness of God. Listen to all the ways that GOD is “abundantly supplied” with something:
In Ephesians 1, Paul writes of the richness of God’s GRACE. God’s undeserved love for sinners was so great, that He redeemed us from our own sin by the blood of His beloved Son.
In Romans 5, Paul says that God is so rich in grace that where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. That means that no matter how much sin there is in your life, God is so “abundantly supplied” with grace that He has an excess of grace to forgive those sins. He is indeed RICH in grace!
In Ephesians 2:4, Paul writes that God is “rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.” God has an excessive amount of compassion toward us sinners. His mercy is so great that while we were dead in our sins, God had compassion on us and made us alive together with Christ. The reason you believe in Jesus as your Savior is because God is rich in mercy and made you spiritually alilve.
In Romans 11, Paul marvels, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” In our Bible instruction class this week we talked about the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God. While it was a woman that the devil first tempted to sin, it was through a woman that the Savior would come! While it was from a tree that we were first overcome with sin, it was on the tree of the cross that Jesus would overcome sin. The riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God is indeed very deep! So deep, that we can spend a lifetime digging through His Word and not even begin to plumb the depth of it.
God is indeed rich. Rich in grace, rich in mercy, rich in wisdom and knowledge. And the richness of His grace and mercy are clearly seen in Him sending Jesus. When we were spiritually bankrupt and lost in our sins, God sent His Son to make us rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9—“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
Through Christ, you all are rich—whether you live in a tin hut or a mansion, whether you have $5 in your piggy bank at home or thousands of dollars in your bank account. You have the richness of God’s full and free forgiveness through Christ. You have the richness of heaven secured for you by Christ’s death and resurrection. Though spiritually bankrupt, Christ has wiped away your debt and credited your account with the richness of His righteousness. Because of the richness of God, you are rich!
These are the riches of God that we put our hope in. The riches of this world are so uncertain. Banks fail and stock markets crash. The value of our 401k’s go up and down. Not so with the riches of God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The excessive wealth of His grace and mercy only shine brighter with each passing day.
Knowing the riches of our God, we can then consider the wealth He gives us in this world. Paul writes in our text, “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.” With earthly wealth does comes the danger of being haughty or literally, “high-minded.” When one is blessed with lots of money, pride can build up in the heart, as it did with King Uzziah. There can be pride that looks down on those who don’t have as much as you do, where you do not want to associate with those who do not dress as well or live as nicely as you do. There can be pride as one thinks that with great earthly wealth God loves them more than other people. There can be pride like that of the Rich Fool in our parable, who thought he had everything he needed for this life. Class warfare and class envy is rooted in the love of money and the pride that comes with it.
Whether rich or poor, remember where every good and perfect gift came from. It is God “who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” God gives us everything to enjoy. He satisfies our mouth with good things, the psalmist writes. (Psalm 103:5) His blessings on this world fill our hearts with gladness. (Acts 14:17) It is okay to enjoy the things God has richly provided us with.
But once again, we must guard against the desire our sinful hearts. Our sinful, selfish heart wants to enjoy things for ourselves FIRST like the Rich Fool did, by building bigger barns for ourselves, while forgetting the Giver of every good and perfect gift, as well as our neighbor.
Paul continues in verses 18 and 19, that the rich in this age “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.” Rather than just enjoying those riches yourself, Paul calls on the rich to use the riches God has given to help others enjoy them as well by being rich in good works, generous and ready to share. The richness of God led Him to be generous and share His beloved Son with us. Now how can we be generous and ready to share what God has given us with others? Think of wealthy and generous Abraham who shared his wealth with three visitors who came by His tent by giving them a feast. Think of Joseph of Arimathea was generous in giving his new tomb to lay the body of Jesus in.
By being rich in good works and generous, we are not focused on building bigger barns for us to store our riches away in for ourselves, but we are focused on our eternal home, the mansions in the Father’s house that Jesus has gone to prepare for us. When we are generous and sharing with our fellow believer, Jesus says it is like we are doing it to Him, just as Joseph of Arimathea did.
What does it mean to be rich? It has nothing to do with the number of zeros behind a dollar amount. To be rich is to have Christ and the certainty of eternal life with Him in heaven. May God help us all to rejoice in His richness and the true life that Jesus died to give us! Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.