Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. – 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NIV)
In a Bible study, someone commented, “I don’t know why people think they can turn to scripture for comfort. I usually just find a challenge.” I don’t think she was speaking about this particular passage, but she might have been.
I mean, I’m not always challenged by this passage. It depends on whether I’m the commander or the commandee.
Am I the recipient of this letter, the one responsible for wagging a finger at some televangelist with a garage full of expensive cars? I’m happy to command that guy to be humble, and good, and faithful.
But if I’m the one being commanded to put my hope not in wealth but in God? Suddenly I have 101 reasons why I need to put my faith in my savings account rather than prayer. But passages like this one remind me that if I can take my eyes off my check book, God’s path is right there, showing the way to the life that’s really life.
Holy One, help me receive the commandments you have placed in your Word, not only for me, but also only for me. Amen.
Jennifer Garrison Brownell is pastor of Vancouver United Church of Christ. Her writing appears in the collection, The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms For the Struggle, available from The Pilgrim Press.