Intro: “Lifestyles of the rich and famous” – a show that depicted how a rich and famous person lived (movie stars, entrepreneurs, famous athletes – all had on thing in common – they had a lot of money. But they had another thing in common as well – You could tell they had a lot of money – they lived like they had a lot of money: fancy cars, big mansions, expensive yachts, etc. This is what it looks like to be rich and famous.
What does it look like to be rich and righteous? What is the lifestyle of a rich man who is also a Christian?
Read again from: 1 Tim 6:17-19 – 17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
This morning we studied 17 wherein Paul provided the negative side a “not this, but this” admonition. The rich person is called to not be arrogant or condescending toward others, and to not place his confidence or trust in physical wealth. As we noticed this morning these commands confront one’s value system. Money can work against righteousness and God’s purposes when it becomes causes us to put ourselves and our possessions at the center of our lives.
Tonight we are going to consider the positive side of Paul’s admonition. What is the rich Christian supposed to look like?The duty of all rich believers is to use their resources to meet the needs of others. The apostle gives four phrases that define that duty.
I. Let them do good – The word good (agathos) “describes that which, being good in character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect” (Vine). In this context, good refers to benevolence, using their wealth in such a way as to benefit the less fortunate. Almost everyone recognize the morality of helping those in need. The Bible certainly teaches this responsibility. Galatians 6:10 – 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. God has always commanded benevolence. He has always championed the cause of the poor, especially those who could not help themselves (widow, orphan).
A. The Law of Moses and the prophets commanded God’s people to help others with their resources. Deuteronomy 15:11 – 11 For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’
1. Additional admonitions to benevolence in the OT.
a. Proverbs 14:21– He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
b. Proverbs 22:9– He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.
c. Proverbs 22:22 – Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Nor oppress the afflicted at the gate;
d. Proverbs 31:9– Open your mouth, judge righteously, And plead the cause of the poor and needy.
e. Isaiah 58:5-8 – God calls on Israel to keep a true fast before him, not of selfishly oriented deprecation, but of a true benevolence toward others. – 6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
f. Zechariah 7:9-10 – “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Execute true justice, Show mercy and compassion Everyone to his brother. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, The alien or the poor. Let none of you plan evil in his heart Against his brother.’
B. Compassion and assistance to the needy is an essential part of the gospel message. In Gal. 2:10 As Paul defends his equal apostleship with Peter and the others (pillars) he says they gave him the right hand of fellowship to go to the Gentiles. Just one thing was requested by the original apostles toward Paul as he went to preach the same gospel – remember the poor.Without this the message was incomplete.
II. That they may be rich in good works – The rich are to both do and be something. By the practice of benevolence they come to be rich in good works. Paul utilizes the word “rich” of the fourth time in these verses. (abundant, possessing an abundance) So those who are rich in material possessions (money) become rich in another sense. By doing good (to others they come to possess an abundance of good works for themselves. (the flip side is implied – If they keep the riches they now possess and do not do good with them, they do not become rich in good works.)
A. Do you want to be rich? In good works? Then you cannot hold on to your material riches. Matt 6:19-21 – 19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
1. How often do you look at your bank statement? Does it matter to you how much money you have in your account? What about your account of good works? How much is stored up in that account? We will come back to this in a moment.
III. Ready to give (distribute) NASB and others use the word generous. IT depicts an attitude toward material blessings that is essential to the character of the Christian, and is especially necessary in those who have possessions. Genuine generosity is the antidote to “trusting in uncertain riches”. Does it hurt to give it away? Are we afraid to share it with others because we might need it ourselves? These questions help us assess how much we trust in our money for security, a sense of contentment or well-being. If I have learned to be ready (eager) to give, then that is a sign that my spirit is controlling my flesh, and I am putting my trust in god and not things. (Zacchaeus – Luke 19:7 – “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; )
A. 1 John 3:17 – 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
B. James 2:15-16 – 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
C. When John the Baptist called on his disciples to bring forth fruits of repentance, they asked him “What shall we do then” His answer – He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” (Luke 3:11)
IV. Willing to share (communicate – KJV) – The Greek word for share (communicate) is koinonikos (koy-no-nee-kos’) which emphasizes the idea of fellowship. According to Lenski it means, “not holding aloof; not being inaccessible. The Christian rich man is to be in fellowship with all his Christian brethren, down to the poorest and the humblest, is to be wholly one with them just as if he had no wealth.” This brings to mind Paul’s exhortation, “Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate” (Rom. 12:16).The righteous rich person does not contribute to the needs of others in a cold detached manner, but with a mutual concern for one whom he desires to fellowship and join with.
V. Storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come – (storing up) could be translated “amassing a treasure,” while “foundation” can refer to a fund or reserve. The Christian who has resources has the opportunity to truly gain what most rich folks expect from their riches – security for the future. A foundation that one can trust. Matt. 6 teaches us that this foundation is not available here on earth. The righteous rich are not to be concerned with getting a return on their investment in this life. Those who lay up treasure in heaven will be content to wait to receive their dividends in the future when they reach heaven.
A. We asked earlier about our heavenly bank statement. What do we have stored up? Some immediately object to such thinking because we do not earn our salvation through amassing good works, and that is not what Paul is teaching here. But Paul is using the language that describes to us the value of physical riches to teach us about the value of using our resources for spiritual good.
B. After telling a parable about an unrighteous steward who unscrupulously cheated his boss to secure his job, Jesus said, “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. 9 “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. (Luke 16:8-9) The worldly man (especially the rich one) is willing to invest whatever is necessary to get what he thinks serves his purposes. He is looking toward the final result – what he wants. What do you want? What type of investment will you need to acquire it?
VI. That they may lay hold on eternal life – the generous rich man can be saved. The word translated as “lay hold” means to seize, or grasp. The phrase denoted conditionality (that he may) and implies that if he does not store up the spiritual foundation he will not seize eternal life.
A. But there is a further contrast in the language here. The word that the NKJV translates as eternal more perfectly means genuine, or true. The ESV renders it … so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (ESV) Paul would have us (the rich in this age) know that we cannot experience true life until we become rich.
1. A person sitting on a remote beach with a cool drink in his hand, and no financial worries or concerns. The lifestyle of the rich and famous – what is it they often say about that picture… “Now this is the life” _Don’t believe that! True life is only possible to those who are willing to give all of that up, and fellowship the poor and lowly of this world. True life comes by giving, not by accumulating or keeping. It is more blessed to give than receive.
Conclusion: There is a compelling scene in Acts 9:36-41 – At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. 37 But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.
This is the funeral of a rich woman. I doubt she had an investment account or money in the bank. But she had an account in which she had been making regular deposits… an account of good works, evidenced in the tunics she made for the widows who were there that day to pay tribute to her life. The story of a resurrection fo a lady who had already laid hold a true life.
All the good works and generosity we could imagine of the world could not remit a single sin, or merit a second of eternal life. The only investment that secures us is His investment at Calvary. He used His riches to secure me a place.