Saturday

18 February 2012

"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 be good, to be rich in good deeds, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundaton for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life." (vv. 17-20)

Background

As this letter draws to a conclusion, Timothy is given encouragement to continue fighting the good fight, and a reminder that Christians look not just to the comforts of the present age but also to the blessings of the age to come.

Being content with what you have is not easy if you have nothing, but as a general rule of life it is a good one. Discontentment can lead to resentment and envy which, in turn, can lead to dis-ease and self-pity. When the Greek philosopher Epicurus was asked about the secret of happiness he answered: "Add not to a man's possessions but take away from his desires."

Christianity has never advocated poverty. There is no virtue in always struggling to make ends meet, but it is a simple fact that there is no power in 'things' to bring happiness into a person's life. Happiness comes with our relationships - with God and with others.

Riches and possessions, even modest ones, are not in themselves good or bad, but the love and desire for them can lead to evil (verse 10). Money can do much good in the world because it can answer the cry for help from those in need, and as such brings great responsibility. It is always good to hear stories of the wealthy giving away vast sums of money to humanitarian causes, because it provides a good example for others to follow, and Paul and Timothy would, I am sure, applaud such generosity!

There are only two things which we can ultimately take to God: ourselves, and the relationship we have with our heavenly Father. Contentment comes from distancing ourselves from the temptation to centre our lives on possessions, and realising that the most precious thing in our possession is our fellowship with God.

To Ponder

How would you define happiness?

How difficult do you find it to resist the temptation to want what others have? What coping strategies do you have?

At what point does 'having enough' become 'having too much'?

Bible notes author: John Birch

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