Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share…
1 Timothy 6:18
What Makes Us Wealthy?
How do you calculate the riches of a person? Is it the size of their home? Or are you thinking about the size of their wardrobe? Is it the nice car they drive? Or are you thinking instead about the influence and power that their wealth can afford them?
When we calculate riches and wealth, we’re thinking about what we can acquire; however, that’s not where God places our value as people made in His image. Regardless of your financial situation, the same question applies to us all: Where are your riches? Here’s what our “riches” accumulate to in the kingdom of heaven.
Saved For Good Works
In 1 Timothy 6, the apostle Paul has instructions for the wealthy members of the church. These words are simple and provide direction that’s countercultural to the world around them. He writes in verse 18, “Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share…”
We can be rich in a lot of things that look good in the eyes of the world, yet don’t bring honor to God. Here, we’re what brought back to what it is that we’re saved for: good works that glory His name. To be rich in good works separates us from the world’s notions of wealth.
Wealth in Our Willingness
The key to generosity—especially as it relates to those whose earthly wealth is more abundant than others’—is that it pertains to the heart. Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 9:7 reminds us, “Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.” This idea connects to his instructions here in 1 Timothy: it’s about our willingness. Our heart’s posture towards our generosity answers the question “Where are your riches?”
With lives surrendered to God’s will above our own, He is able to do abundantly more within us. So while the command to “be rich in good works” is geared towards the rich in the church, it applies to those, too, who wouldn’t fall under the financially wealthy category. Rich or poor, we’re made for good works. And through the power of the Holy Spirit, we’re given all the capital needed to be rich in them.
Consider the ways you measure “riches,” in the earthly and eternal sense. Are you investing in things that extend life everlasting into the lives of those around you? Would you say that you have a willingness to be generous with your good works on behalf of others? Reflect on the ways of the kingdom and ask the Lord to guide you towards where to invest your “riches.”