Is Wealth All Wonderful?
“Wealth is wonderful and makes us wonderful.” That’s the message the media bombards us with every day. No wonder so many of us want to be rich. But is wealth all it’s made out to be? Sure, there are advantages to being wealthy, but are there any disadvantages? What are the pros and cons of being rich?
Having reframed and redefined riches (1 Tim. 6:1–10), Paul then reframes and redefines the rich (1 Tim. 6:17–21). He highlights both the advantages and disadvantages of being rich, then surprises us with a closing definition of who is truly rich. By adding these verses as a postscript to his letter, just after his fitting climax of praise (1 Tim. 6:15–16), Paul underlines how a wrong view of riches cannot coexist with a right view of worship or a right approach to ministry.
This journey through the books of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus includes 50 daily devotionals written by David Murray, author of The StoryChanger. Part of the StoryChanger Devotional series, this book features daily readings designed to help you learn, love, and live according to the Bible.
The Rich Have Extra Temptations
The rich face three unique temptations. First, they are tempted with pride. “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty” (1 Tim. 6:17). The wealthy often look down on the poor as inferior people.
Second, they are tempted to trust in their riches. That’s why Timothy is to charge them “not to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God” (1 Tim. 6:17). Money can become our comfort and security. We end up trusting our accountant rather than our Creator.
Third, they are tempted to self-sufficiency. Because the rich tend to think that they are entirely self-made, they are to remember that it is “God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). They are God-made not self-made.
If we’re tempted to want more money,
we’re asking for more temptation.
“Are there no positives in having wealth?”
Yes, there are some huge positives.
The Rich Have Extra Opportunities
The rich “are to do good, to be rich in good works” (1 Tim. 6:18). Wealth gives the wealthy a great opportunity to invest in others and frees them from paid work to engage in voluntary works for the good of others. The rich are “to be generous and ready to share” (1 Tim. 6:18), because they have money surplus to their needs and therefore have extra opportunities to give to others.
If we’re tempted to want more money, we’re asking for more temptation.
In doing this they are “storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:19). This does not mean that charitable works earn us eternal life. It means that we are to keep our minds on the world to come and use our resources with a view to doing eternal good.
The rich have more resources and therefore more responsibilities.
“If I’m not rich, then there’s nothing for me here.”
Look at who is truly wealthy.
The Rich Are Redefined
Paul closes his letter by reminding us of who is truly wealthy. Timothy is to “guard the deposit entrusted to [him]” (1 Tim. 6:20). Because the gospel is so valuable, those who have it are truly rich, and they protect it as they would a bar of gold. If we do so, we will “avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith” (1 Tim. 6:20–21).
Timothy is to guard God’s gold of truth and avoid the fool’s gold of error—even if it comes from the wealthy—because it leads people astray.
The poor in spirit have the kingdom of heaven.
This article is adapted from Timothy and Titus: Stories of Fear and Courage by David Murray.
Godliness with contentment is great gain. Read and be encouraged by Scripture on how not to covet after wealth and be glad in God.
The reason money is so crucial for Jesus is that across all cultures and all ages it represents the alternative to God as the treasure of our hearts, and therefore the object of our worship.
Perhaps you felt a twinge of discomfort when Jesus told the rich young man to give everything he had to the poor and follow him. But he’s not done.
Money talks, but some rich people can’t hear what it’s saying. Read James 5:1–6, and as you read it, listen to how money is speaking.