How do you think of money? Is it good or bad? Is it a blessing or not? Is it to be enjoyed? Is it OK to be wealthy? Or do you sometimes feel embarrassed or guilty about having more than enough? What is enough? Is it OK to aspire to a promotion and the pay increase that brings or not? How different should we be as disciples in terms of what we have and what we do with our money? And what about our giving? Should we and if so how much and who too?
Timothy is Paul’s trouble shooter, sent to the church in Ephesus to combat false teachers(1v3). He’s to expose the false teaching, teach the truth and firmly establish the church with leaders who know and will keep on teaching the truth. Applying the gospel to every area of life; church, leadership, men and women, care for widows, elders, slaves and money.
Wealth is one of the things we’re squeamish about. We don’t talk about it. You never ask someone how much they earn, though you may google it when you get home. You never ask someone about their budget and if you have to it feels intrusive and awkward. But 1 Timothy shows us how dangerous it is not to apply the gospel to money and wealth. Disciples are called to follow Jesus and Jesus often taught about money and how following him transforms our think about and use of money. And false teachers and the world aren’t shy in teaching people about money and it’s uses. So Timothy must teach about the implications of the gospel for wealth and riches. And so must we.
It matters that we’re clear on this because false teaching is as prevalent today as it was in Ephesus. The prosperity gospel is only a click of the remote or a twiddle of the tuner away. Some of the most popular teachers on YouTube or in print pedal a prosperity gospel. The belief that money in the bank, a healthy body, a thriving family, happiness and wellbeing are always God’s will for his people. And that having enough faith, living by it, giving to church and mission are a means to increasing those things. That prayer is a way to encourage God to give us the greater prosperity he’s just waiting for us to realise and believe should be ours.
Do you believe that? We’re quick to deny that aren’t we? We don’t believe that, you can’t find that in the Bible if you read it in context. But what if we’ve just settled for a softer version of that?
Do you believe that next year life should be a bit more comfortable than this year? That you ought to get a pay rise every year at least in line with inflation? What do our prayers reveal about our desires and expectations? Do we pray for comfort or kingdom? How do we react when suffering hits, is it with surprise, shock, dismay, whys? What do our prayers reveal about what we really believe God wants for us?
Next week we’re going to look at suffering and discipleship but this week we’re thinking about the disciple and wealth. How must following Jesus transform our thinking and our spending?