The Richness of a Thankful Heart!

I Timothy 6:6-10;17-19
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
 

The story goes that John D. Rockefeller, the richest man in his era, was asked, “How much is enough?” His response, “Just a little bit more.”  What does it mean to be content with what you have? A second home or car? Four walls and a roof? A nest egg? What the apostle Paul tells us is that whatever you have, be content in it.  Twice in today’s passage, the apostle says that contentment is true wealth.

 

It’s still difficult! We like our stuff (and other people’s stuff, too!). Honestly, Paul never speaks against us accruing much wealth. What Paul does say in verse 7: We came into the world with nothing, and we can take nothing out of it. That is where the phrase, “You can’t take it with you” comes from.  What do you have when you are born? Nothing. You come into the world a little red-faced, squally, naked baby. You do not have anything; even your diaper has to be furnished. What do you have when you leave this world? Nothing. You leave it all behind. Pastor Ray Stedman wrote: I picked up a young hitchhiker. As he was telling me about himself, he said, “My uncle died a millionaire.” I said, “No, he didn’t.” “What do you mean?” he said. “You don’t know my uncle.” I said, “Who’s got the million now?” “Oh,” he said, “I see what you mean.” Nobody dies with their possessions; we leave it all behind. Can you be content with what you have?

 

Paul talks about contentment in Philippians 4 also:  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. The next verse tells us the secret: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  No matter whether we are rich or not or how much we spend or make or give or lose, what God wants from us is to keep our relationship with Him and His Kingdom in the center of it all! 

 

Also in this passage is this most popular quote: The love of money is the root of all evil. Now remember, Paul loves for people to have money at their disposal. It’s the love of money that’s the pitfall. You know what a root is. If a big weed is growing in your back yard, you cut it down. It looks like you have gotten rid of it. But you haven’t if the root is still there. After a while the root will produce another shoot and soon another and a weed the same size or bigger will grow. That is what the love of money is like. Sure, get a good weed poison and you can eliminate some of the problems. But, just wait; others will show up! Roots that produce weeds are constantly trying to bring evil in your life, creating situations that are disastrous to you and to others. But Paul doesn’t end on this tough note.  He continues his letter by bringing challenge and a different way of thinking about our possessions.  

 

He says to those who have ample: They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous. Those who have more than they need for nourishment and protection from the elements have a freedom to share their riches for the benefit of others. Rockefeller spent the last 40 years of his life focused on philanthropic pursuits in education and public health. His wealth helped pioneer the development of medical research in North America, eradicating hookworm and yellow fever. He was a devout Christian and supported Christian Colleges and missionaries throughout his life.

 

What Paul is telling Timothy is to remind the people to not just talk about it…do it. Most of us are not Rockefellers. Still, Paul calls us to give to the ministry of the church as together we relieve famine, help the needy, set up discipleship small groups, train and encourage the spread of the gospel and support the mission. Be personally involved in things that are good and helpful. Christian brothers and sisters, be liberal and generous.

 

And the result! The second part of verse 19… laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeedWhich is life, indeed! What will survive this life and carry over into the next? Not things (we have seen that), but there is something that will: It is people. The believer who moves from being stingy or fearful or having the love of money to allowing money to be a sign of generosity will shape lives in the image of Christ. Generosity is life indeed…an abundant life in Christ Jesus! Each of us who lives in Christ Jesus has to work out what it means to live generously. Will you give yourself and all you have to the disposal of the One who will use you your assets through you, for your good, and the good of others? What will you leave behind when you take your last breath? What poor soul will benefit because of your generosity now and after your last breath? Someday we must leave everything behind and only that which we have given away will we have in eternity. That’s contentment.

 

     I am blessed to be your pastor!   Joy, joy – Pastor Alexis


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