Treasures, Riches, and Gain

Well, it took nearly half the summer, but the patio doors have been fixed, the cats have been evicted, the porch has been scrubbed down, and the breezeway is once again a place of quiet rest, highly sought after for morning quiet times.  It was worth the wait.

6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith ; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses…17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. (1 Tim 6, NAS)

Contentment— defined in v. 8 as having food and covering, the necessities of life.  The necessities of life are freely provided to me.  I am not in need.  Am I content?  What is the condition of my heart? 

Contentment is contrasted with the love of money  (v. 10) and those who want to get rich (v.9)  These are defined or described as leading to temptation, a snare, harmful desires, (plunging) men into ruin and destruction, a root of all sorts of evil.  Small wonder we are commanded to flee from these things! (v. 11)  Flee, yes, because they are dangerous; but flee (verb, purposeful action) because inertia and passivity will inevitably draw me there. 

Go back to the beginning.  The love of money is being contrasted with contentment with the basic necessities of life.  Easy to say, not as easy to live and mean.  Fleeing these things leaves a vacuum of sorts, but God is ready to fill it with something better…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called (v. 11-12)  Flee.  Pursue.  Fight.  Take Hold.  Words of action.  I am not a runner, but being the mother of a two year old boy, I know something about fleeing, pursuing, taking hold.  Sigh.  This is not going to be easy.  I don’t read anything in the text that indicates that it will be.  Sigh. 

Back to the beginning.  But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.  Great gain.  I always set my sights too low, when God always has something better in store.  Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to …fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.  Those who are rich…my default is not to think of myself as rich.  We enjoy a simple, modest life.  But that is selfish of me.  That is focused inward instead of outward. 

Changing my view to one that includes all of God’s children, in this country and around the world, I see how wealthy I am..I have plenty to eat, the freezers are full, if anything I fight being overweight.  I have never had to worry about having clean water to drink.  If anything our family grumbles at drinking water at mealtime instead of lemonade or pop.  I have plenty of clothes to wear, indeed my husband has put his foot down and insisted that I get rid of clothes we don’t need before we move.  Our house keeps us warm in the winter and provides shelter from the summer heat.  Considering these facts, it’s embarrassing not to think of myself as rich. 

God has further instructions for me…do good..be rich in good works..be generous and ready to share. (v.18)  By doing so, I will be storing up for (my)self the treasure of a good foundation for the future. (v.19)  What future?  My future in eternity.  God’s economy.  Treasures in heaven.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves donot break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

So there you have it.  It all comes back to being a heart issue.  I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but I’m waiting Lord.  I know You are at work, ready to do Your work and I want to be faithful.  Will You help me, please?

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3 thoughts on “Treasures, Riches, and Gain

  1. Loved this Michelle. There is an invisible thread between my heart and yours, as I have been considering these very thoughts lately. In our world of affluence, it is so good to have sisters in Christ who help us stay focused on what truly matters. Thank you!

  2. Patricia, I don’t know how to describe it except a footprint left in the sand of my heart this morning after my quiet time. I wanted to make sure to write it down before the waves of the day washed it away. I don’t know where all of this is going, but I too am thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ who encourage me to strive onward and upward in my walk with the Lord. Love you dear sister!

  3. Michelle–

    i was listening to a song (by Vicky Beeching) called “Undivided Heart”, and i couldn’t remember where i’d come across the phrase “undivided heart” in scripture, so i googled it. as well as finding that out, i also–unexpected treat!–came across your blog. the passage from 1 Timothy is rich, and i very much enjoyed your reflections on it. in particular i found it really helpful to have it pointed out that we are enjoined to flee from (not simply, to refrain from pursuing) “these things”, inasmuch as we will inevitably be drawn to them, if we are anywhere near them. i also liked the way you ended on the note of “waiting on” the Lord, and calling on His help. The language in the 1 Timothy passage is, as you say, so active (fleeing, pursuing, fighting…), and we certainly are called to act! but i think that sometimes we’re (or at least i’m) preoccupied with action in the wrong way, or for the wrong reasons. One of the attractions of agency is that it makes us feel that we’re in control–that we have precisely the kind of control that we are told we won’t have if we really do take up Christ’s invitation to follow Him. (i’m thinking of the bit in John, 21, where Jesus says to Peter, “when you were young, you walked where you wanted, but when you are old…) so it’s useful to be reminded at the end that it’s not simply about our actions, but also about our waiting, and God’s working in us.

    anyway, thanks so much again for your edifying piece: it made my morning!

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