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Advice on our Financial Priorities – 1 Timothy 6:17-19


Christians and Money!

Text:  1 Timothy 6:17-19, Proverbs 23:4-5

At the start of this chapter, Paul gave instructions to Timothy regarding the conditions and service of bond-servants.  1 Tim 6:1.  Being a Christian should have an ethical effect on both the slave and his master. But the conversion of so many Christians had a major effect on the economy of the city.  But what about the financial circumstances of the Christians themselves?

  1. THE SLAVE. Obviously, the slave would be working more productively, for he would be working ‘as unto the Lord’, and to demonstrate a good testimony.
  2. THE MASTER. For the master/businessman, then, having a Christian servant, or even several Christian servants, would be financially advantageous. He would be financially blessed.
  3. THE CHRISTIAN SLAVE-OWNER. No more visits to the pagan temple, where he would have had to pay for the services of a temple prostitute-priestess.  No more excesses that would have been financially crippling.
  4. THE ECONOMY. Add these two factors together, a more productive workforce, motivated by a desire for service, and a more moderate lifestyle for the businessman, and what is the result?  WEALTH! And there were such people in the Ephesian church.   Lydia must have been a wealthy woman, in Acts 16. She must have had a substantial property!

Paul never tells these wealthy people that their wealth is evil, or wrong.  He doesn’t tell them to give it all away.  But he does have some very serious warnings and exhortations for them.


1. Get a Proper Perspective on Money! 17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

We are all wealthy Christians, and there is great danger in that!  Paul urges Timothy to speak to those wealthy Christians, and tell them:

  1. Do not let your money go to your head. Do not be high-minded!  Our modern way of saying this would be ‘don’t get too full of yourself!’ The Christians at Ephesus were never to let their money go to their head, and make them think that they are something they are not.
  2. Don’t trust in your wealth – for a fool and his money are soon parted. It would be utterly foolish to place your trust in money, for like everything else in this world it will rot, and pass away.  Luke 12:18  
  3. Depend only on God – life comes only from him. Remember who is the source of your blessings.  God is the great giver, and we are to richly enjoy his blessings.  He is the living God who gives us all things to enjoy.

So, while we are not asked to dispose of our hard earned cash, to give it all away, we are certainly required to have a correct attitude to money, to not let it go to our heads, to not put our trust in earthly things, but to put all our trust in the living God.  AND:-


2. Use Our Wealth to Bless Others! 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

In fact people who have some money can vibe a great blessing in a church.  Paul says:-

  1. Use your wealth to do good. Instead of being wealthy in this world’s goods alone, be rich in good works!  Speaking to the Ephesian elders when he was bidding them farewell, Paul said, Acts 20:33-35.
  2. Be generous. Distribute and share. The AV ‘distribute’ here is based on a well known Greek word, – it is κοινωνικους, – elsewhere we translate that as COMMUNION, or FELLOWSHIP.  One of the aspects of our fellowship is sharing!  We are to be generous and willing to share – and incidentally, that is about far more than our wealth.  We are to share our friendship and our company and our love for one another.


3. Don’t Forget that This World Is Not Our Home! 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

These are people who are ALREADY SAVED – Paul is writing to CHRISTIANS, to people who already have an assured home in Glory, not because of their own good works, but because of Christ’s good work, for us, on the cross. Now, having been saved, God owns our righteous good works as His, and rewards us for them in heaven.

In fact Jesus teaches this very same doctrine to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount.  Matthew 6:19   But in what way does this help us to ‘lay hold on eternal life?’  Because it demonstrates our perseverance!  We realise that this world is not our final destiny, or our eternal home, and we give what we cannot keep, and in so doing gain a reward that we can never lose.

Could it be that greedy, rich, self-indulgent Christians are the worst possible testimony?  Ephesus was a ‘Lighthouse-Church!’ – It’s good testimony was essential.  Personal greed can ruin the testimony of a Christian, and the church he or she belongs to.


© Bob McEvoy

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