Investing in True Life
I Tim 6:1-2; 17-19
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves.
These are the things you are to teach and insist on.
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
In our passage today, taken from the beginning and the end of chapter 6, we see the reason that we are called to behaviors that are beyond our nature. In Proverbs 14:12
12 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
25 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
2 All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
We are prone to desires in life and responses to circumstances that do not lead to life!
And so we begin our lesson with the idea that it is obedience to God that is the true investment in life!
- Obeying God is an Investment in True Life
We can begin by observing that there are more things in life to obey than God. Obedience to desire for example. Obedience to the desires of other people. And so on. We can also then say that there are many things to invest in to assure us the best life possible. Peace with other people, abundant possessions, lots of free time, varieties of personal pleasure. Individual accomplishment. These would all be examples. But we see in the passage some clear commands.
- All are to be rich in good deeds
This is the idea that informs all of the others. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are created by God to do good works and that those works were prepared in advance for us. This means that God understands our circumstances and so if we are faced with a difficult command, we can be sure that we are not in a bad place. God is with us. What should we do.
- Slaves obey masters
Slavery was very common in the Roman world. And a slave could be a follower of Christ. Obviously it is better to be a free person than a slave. But if you are a slave, remember that all are slaves to Christ. And then set His truth as your truth. His priorities in life as your priorities in life.
- The rich are not to trust riches
If you are poor congratulations, you are probably already in the right frame of mind here. In James 2:
5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
God does not hate riches.
But we must acknowledge that greed or the lust of the eyes from I John 2 is foundational to the love of the world, and displaces the love of God from our hearts. Jesus says: “19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
You cannot serve two masters of any sort. It’s not just God and money. It can be God and your personal pleasure, God and your pride, God and hatred, God and anger, God and unforgiveness, God and people and so on.
And with this priority in mind, that we are going to put God and His commands for our best life as our top priority, we move back more specifically to our two command sections in this passage.
- Slaves (Employees) Fully Respect Your Masters (Employers)
- Obedience at work honors God
What we see here is that obedience at work honors God. The trouble with being obedient at work is that you will have to do more work. Now, if we loved the idea of doing the most that we could, instead of the least that we could, then we would be done with this issue.
- Obedience at work means working hard for your employer
This is true regardless
- Christ teaches devotion to one another v.2
The master is responsible to Christ for the slave too. Why? Because they are created in the image of God and therefore worthy of respect. The employer is to be devoted to the welfare of the employee. This is not a simple process to maintain. But, if we will adopt the “extra mile” principle of Matthew 5 then we will have our expectations set in the proper place. And if we will truly live our lives before God, seeking His approval, trying to do His good works that He prepared for us, then we can have life in every circumstance, whether we are the slave or whether we are the master!
III. Do Not Put Your Hope in Riches
- God is to direct us (Not financial gain)
And honestly, there does not need to be a conflict.
Let me say something about how the church pays me. I have worked as the pastor of this church now full time now for almost 14 years. I am not sure that I have received a raise in that time. And it does not bother me. Why? Well, I love this for a job! I am honored to serve God as your pastor. I am not poor. I am not asking other pastors what they make. And I will do this job as long as you and God will let me.
I do think about money a fair bit in my personal life. If you own a house or cars or go on vacations or have kids or buy clothes and food I don’t know how you can avoid it. But if you will make God your provider, then you can see God at work in your life.
Car repair this past week almost $1,200. It was quite a bit more than I expected, but tax refund will pay for most of it. I was satisfied. And I felt that God was taking care of us. Then, the day after I got the repair bill, my accountant informed us of a mistake and our tax refund increased enough to cover the repair, even the unexpected part. And now I see God as overly generous. The point is to see God at work in our lives so that we trust Him more quickly, more fully.
- Be rich in good deeds
I love this statement! Think about all the desire and time spent in our culture seeking to get rich. Pope County is #3 in the state in online gambling. We are somewhere around there also in lottery ticket sales. Now, I am not condemning you if you buy a lottery ticket. But don’t do it if you want to get rich. You should work instead and invest in something that will actually pay you a return.
What if we gave our hearts to doing good works. What if that motivated us to the same degree. What if the very idea of doing good works thrilled us like the fantasy of hitting the lottery! The very fantasy is what is being sold! Well, there is a greater reward, built on a firm foundation. And the biggest trouble with the fantasy of riches is that they don’t make people’s lives better. But doing good does!
Generosity and sharing are two good works mentioned in this passage. Looking out for others, respecting one another, these are another two. May God change our hearts until we are thrilled to do the good works that He puts in front of us!
- Setting a secure future
Following Christ is the only way to be sure that we are believers! It is easy, as the introduction stated for us, to think too highly of ourselves. We do not buy fire insurance, instead we buy life insurance and it is whole life. It ensures that we live the best possible life both now, and in the future.
And your future life is so great that you will be the wealthiest of all of the wealthy. All who follow Christ are co-heirs with Christ. We have the right now to be free. We have the right to be righteous. We have the right to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. We have the right to live lives of eternal significance. And the only reason that we will not do this is because we will pursue something else that is not as good. We can be tricked by our own desire and the temptations of our culture and the devil. But you don’t have to be. You can follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and head onward and upward as an equal heir with Him!!
If you have never asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, I invite you to do so today. Agree with Him that you are sinful and not capable of living best on your own. Agree to follow His commands and ask Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit. Then something is going to happen. You are going to run into issues in life where you don’t want to give up a habit, or a fear, or a desire. If you don’t do so, you will quench the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. Don’t do that. Give yourselves unreservedly to God. Follow the teachings of Christ and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. And you will walk in the best life possible for you. You will be the best version of you that you can be! You will be obedient and hard working at work. You will be honest, generous and free in your finances!