Reflection on I Timothy 6:17-19

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

According research on giving the percentage of born again adults who gave any money to churches dropped to its lowest level this decade 76% but at the same time among all born again adults, 9% contributed one-tenth or more of their income. Among those who made more than $60,000 to 100,000 or more only 1-5 percent born again people contributed one-tenth or more of their income.

Christians who are rich are often tempted to live like other worldly people. We find in the Scripture a young man who was rich who when asked by Jesus to give his possession to the poor became sad. Even though, he had obeyed the Ten Commandments from his childhood. The Rich man who allowed poor Lazarus to sit by his gate and shared all his left over crumbs was seemingly a good man, because he didn’t chase poor Lazarus and nor stopped him to sit by his Gate, but he was not a very generous man. Hannah and Saphira in the New Testament Church were godly people and member s of a bible believing church of Jerusalem. They both struggled to give their all even when they had promised to give the price money of their field. In all these three incidents found in the Bible. The end result was very tragic and terrible. Though the people in the first two incidents which I have mentioned were not believers but the third example is of a rich Christian couple who displeased God and the Holy Spirit. They were struck by the Holy Spirit and died. We find in all three incidents, God was not pleased. How often we find people in our churches that are rich and well-heeled but are not very generous.

We must give our attention to the Greek word for “Charge” Παράγγελλε; it is to give command with solemn authority. Therefore we should understand that God is not suggesting but commanding the rich people in the Church to use their riches wisely. These commands should not be taken lightly.

The key message for the rich is to exhibit their trust in God by distributing and giving their uncertain riches to receive good and certain reward.

It is said of King Munbaz, when he dispersed his father’s treasures to the poor, his brethren and friends came about him, complaining of it; to whom he said, “my fathers treasured up below, I treasure up above. My fathers treasured “up for others”, I treasure up “for myself”; my fathers treasured up for this world, I treasure up for the world to come.”

“Uncertain riches” is a good description of the mammon as it cannot satisfy you nor can last eternally. Riches fly away and cannot save one from God’s eternal judgment. The purpose of money is also given in this passage. First God does permit to enjoy but more than that God expects to “Distribute and Give”. God has given here the purpose of the riches because He Himself is the giver of all good things. We find here what is called: Purpose Driven Giving.

  • Ready to distribute (εὐμεταδότους)
    This carries an idea of giving to a particular person (without any partiality). This has an inbuilt notion of giving toward the needs of a destitute and indigent believer in the local church. They should be always ready to give to those who are in need in the body of believers. Here the idea is rich should have eager desire to invest in the life of individual believers who do not have enough and are impecunious. Buying groceries, clothes and pay for poor children’s school fee etc. are some of the examples. Always looking for an opportunity to give.
  • Willing to communicate (κοινωνικούς)
    This carries an Idea of willingly giving to the need of a fellowship/local church. The rich should be willing to bear the burden of their local church. There are many needs in the local church. First and foremost they should be willing to pay their tithes faithfully, though the NT does not prescribe tithes but one is expected to give more than 10%. The Pharisees use to give 20% of their income. We are expected to give more than that sacrificially and cheerfully without being noticed by the congregation. The rich should not neglect the world wide body of Christ. There are many bible believing churches in developing nations where their need is exigent and insistent. Some of them cannot support their own pastors nor can send missionaries. Therefore giving towards such need is vitally important for the cause of the gospel.

Paul asked Timothy, a young Pastor to “Charge them that are rich”
Ten Commandments for the Rich based on I Timothy 6:17-19
1. Thou shall be not highminded.
2. Thou shall not trust in uncertain riches.
3. Thou shall trust in the living God.
4. Thou must know that it is God who giveth thee richly all things to enjoy.
5. Thou must do good.
6. Thou must be rich in good works.
7. Thou must be ready to distribute to the needy fellow believer.
8. Thou must willingly give to the fellowship of the believers.
9. Thou must lay up in store for thyself a good foundation for the future
10. Thou shall lay hold on eternal life.

• Pastors should not be afraid to confront rich people of his local church.
• Pastor should not hesitate to ask them to give toward the needs of poor people of the Church.
• Pastor should encourage them to give to the local church for the gospel ministry.

The advancement and propagation of the Gospel should be the chief priority. Investing in the ministry of the Gospel is best way of investment in the future because it has eternal and infinite value all other things are transient.


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