A sermon on I Timothy 6:17-21 for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, July 23/24/26, 2020.
The year was 1922. At this time one of the greatest archaeological finds of all was uncovered. Howard Carter found the nearly intact tomb of King Tutankhamun, more commonly known as King Tut. This discovery renewed interest in the study of ancient Egypt. Perhaps the main reason this find grabbled the world’s attention was because of the great riches buried with King Tut. King Tut’s coffin is estimated to be worth $1.7 million dollars. The gold buried with the King would be in the millions and millions of dollars, since they found two hundred forty pounds of it. This does not even take into account all the other artifacts found in the tomb. This tomb contained massive riches beyond what people would expect.
The question that comes to mind is simple, “Why?” Why such extravagance for a dead person? Why such great wealth for a person that cannot make use of it? Ancient Egypt showered their Pharaohs and Kings with great wealth in death. They believed this wealth could be used for offerings to the Egyptian deities. The rulers could use the money in the afterlife to continue their opulent lifestyle. Wealth buried with the dead served as a way to honor their leaders.
The world still puts much value on money in a person’s life. People use money as a status symbol. People worry about how much money they will need once they retire. Fights over a person’s money and earthly possessions take place after a person dies often tearing apart families. The world has many thoughts about money, many are selfish and sinful. Today, we will see some things that God has to say about money.
We cannot begin talking about our earthly riches without talking about our greatest gift. Paul sums it up this way, “In this way they are storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (I Timothy 6:18). The Christian needs to constantly recognize the greatest treasure already laid out for them.
However, it is not always easy to keep our attention focused on the greatest treasure. The world tries to distract us from the true life we possess. We want to think that the good life is here on the earth. We find goodness in our work. We pour ourselves into our job climbing the corporate ladder. Only to find later in life all the events they missed out on because they were too busy. It might not be worth all the sacrifices. We find our foundation in our friends. This leaves us disappointed when friends leave us. We trust ourselves for a good foundation for the future. However, the foundation will crumble because our own strength fails.
The Christian recognizes their blessings. The blessings of friends, work, and our own accomplishments are good, but they are not the greatest blessings we receive. Our greatest treasure consists in our faith. Faith rests on a firm foundation of our Lord and Savior. Faith looks to Jesus. Jesus gives us true life. It has nothing to do with life on earth. It has everything to do with eternal life.
Christ alone brings this treasure to us. The cross of Christ marks this great treasure for us. His cross gathered these riches to be given out to his children. Our many failings in life have been covered over by our Savior. Heaven stands open for us. This life of faith brings true life to the Christian. Faith uncovers the riches that will never be taken away. The Christian recognizes their wonderful blessings consist in the eternal treasures that God has won for us.
However, Paul did not want the people to forget their earthly wealth. Remembering they have a great treasure in heaven would help them use their gifts right now in service to God. First Paul warned about the wrong use of a person’s earthly possessions, “Instruct those who are rich in this present age not to be arrogant or to put their hope in the uncertainty of riches” (I Timothy 6:17).
We see it all too often. Money brings with it pride. People show off their riches. They look down upon those who do not have the same economic status as they do. Money will buy them out of trouble. Money will bring happiness to a person’s life. Money can buy them all the things they want. Money can purchase houses, vacation homes, cars, and whatever else they desire. Paul tells the rich don’t do that. Be humble. Recognize God has given gifts to you as blessings.
Paul also warns against false hope. Our riches are so uncertain. The stock market goes up, and it goes down. Savings can be used up because of emergencies. A job loss makes a person frantic to see where their income will come from. Hope in money will leave us hopeless.
Our hope can only be in one place, God. Paul says, “But rather in God, who richly supplies us with all things for our enjoyment” (I Timothy 6:17). The Christian recognizes God blesses us with all that we have. Our riches are not ours. God owns them. God allows us to be managers of his wealth. When we have this view of our finances, we will have a correct understanding of how to be faithful stewards of God’s gifts.
If our friend gives us their prize possession to take of, we will take care of it, maybe even better than our own things. We need to recognize all our blessings come from God. He graciously gives them to us. Have we always been faithful with those gifts? Our heart tells multiple stories of how unfaithful we have been. Thank God for his forgiveness. Thank God for his goodness. He does not hold back from us just because we have failed. He continues to pour forth blessings upon us. He continues to give more than we could ever know. He continues to teach us to be faithful stewards.
So, we need to be faithful. “Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share” (I Timothy 6:18). Paul has a play on words. The hope of the rich is not in riches. God’s people are to be rich in good works. These good works can only come from a heart born anew in faith. Faith produces those good works because of all the things Christ has done for us.
The Christian recognizes their blessings here on earth to be used to the glory of God in all that they do. We can be generous for Christ truly has been generous to us. He has lifted the crimson stain of sin from us. He has adopted us as his child. He holds nothing back for us, so we hold nothing back for him.
As the Christian recognizes their gifts in this present world, they will use those gifts to give honor and glory to God in all they do. We joyously bring the firstfruits of our wealth to God in our offerings. We return that portion of our wealth to him for the spread of his kingdom. We want to be generous with our gifts to help support the mission of the church here and all over the world.
The Christian uses their gifts to support their family. Families help take care of each other. God has also given us our money to help plan for our future and help with charities. As the Christian lives in this world, they will live as wise stewards. They will faithfully use the blessings God gives not only for themselves but for others.
The Christian recognizes how rich they are. They see all the blessings God gives to them each and every day. We see our God is generous for he has stored up eternal treasures for us. Guided by the greatest treasure of heaven, they will be generous and kind to all. Amen.