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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, September 25, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Timothy 6:6–19

Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life. (NRSV)

It is often observed how many of Jesus’ teachings are about money. Lots of the parables Jesus told concerned money, and his encounters with the rich and the poor are the pillars that hold up much of the Gospels. 

The Apostle Paul doesn’t directly quote Jesus in his letter to Timothy, but he comes awfully close. His instruction to “those who in the present age are rich” to “store up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future” sounds a lot like Jesus’ instruction in the sermon on the mount to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” doesn’t it?

The idea is simple enough: the life that riches promise is not the same thing, for the Christian, as the “life that really is life” (perhaps my favorite phrase in the entire New Testament). The foundation we think a 401(k) or a second house provides for our future can disappear with a turn in the market. But the riches of “good works,” those ephemeral acts of generosity, faith, love, and gentleness, store up for us and for others value that is more durable, though less tangible.

Still, the flourish is effective—“the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” Not only is our seeking after the permanence of wealth misguided, it’s also dangerous, to ourselves and others. All kinds of evil proceed from the love of financial security, like redlining, which was perpetuated to protect the real estate investments of white homeowners, most of whom had presumably heard of the connection between evil and a love of money in one of the churches that stood on every one of their neighborhood’s corners. 

Wealth isn’t a barrier to Christian discipleship by itself, only the love of it.

Make us ever ready to share, O gracious God, as you are ever ready to share, not only the blessings of your care for us, but also your very self in the person of Jesus Christ. May we share as he shared, that all your children would have enough. Amen. 

Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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