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Where Is Your Hope?

Designed old paper background, texture,Designed old paper background, texture

I am rich, yet frequently oblivious to my wealth. What would my Lord whisper into my opulent life?

Let’s turn the corner and ask a penetrating question. How do the things you possess, the symbols of your success, affect your attitude toward yourself? Do your possessions lead to humble gratitude toward the Giver, or do you detect ego inflation as your financial profile grows?

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant, nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain. — 1 Timothy 6:17

Why does Paul raise this issue? Why does he advise Timothy to warn against arrogance? Why was this warning needed in Ephesus, and why do we need this reminder so badly today?

I suspect that our natural inclination — our gravitational pull — is to drift toward arrogance as wealth increases.

Wealthy believers in Ephesus were coached to flee arrogance. Conceit naturally and easily follows financial success, and it is vital to guard our hearts against it. If you work hard, advance in your career, and build wealth, there are several positive emotions you should experience. As you achieve, legitimate godly emotions might include deep satisfaction, gratitude, joy, and thanksgiving. But arrogant pride is an anti-God state of mind that corrodes the soul.

Timothy is also counseled to encourage the Ephesian affluent not to “put their hope in wealth… but to put their hope in God.”

To put our hope in wealth is to depend upon it as our ultimate source of security. Only God should occupy this treasured position in our lives.

With this admonition we return to the topic of core identity. In a consumer-driven culture, we are over-impressed by symbols of wealth. We need to remind ourselves again and again, “I make my money, my money doesn’t make me. As a Jesus follower, it’s not what I possess, but who possesses me that forms the core of my being. I earn money, spend money, and save money, but it will fail me if I place my hope in it. It is not my life and must not become my God.”

The Creator reasons, “Don’t put your hope in your stuff. Put your hope in Me, the One who provides such things for your enjoyment.” This generosity, this “rich provision,” is designed to draw your heart home. It should cause deep sadness when we discover that the very gifts intended to draw our hearts to God result instead in egocentric pride.

I think this will be the challenge of a lifetime: how to enjoy our possessions without placing our hope in them.

You won’t have to work at becoming arrogant. As your wealth grows, just do nothing, and you will drift toward egotistical self-centeredness. It requires corrective action to prevent drift toward conceit.

What activities train the heart in humble gratitude? Are there disciplines that work to purge arrogance from our lives? Let’s return to Paul’s counsel to Timothy with regard to the financial elite of Ephesus — those who had the capacity to live in the houses on the terraces with elaborate floor mosaics and brilliantly colored wall frescos. When residents with this financial abundance became followers of the Christ, what could they do — and what can we do — to draw nearer to a true view of themselves, their wealth, and their God?

What Paul advises his protégé should not come as a surprise to us. He counsels Timothy to urge the wealthy to give themselves away, to be generous with their time and money. He challenges them, and us, to serve and share. Read this life-giving advice slowly and reflectively.

Command them {the rich} 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 6:18-19

The first two pursuits (do good and be rich in good deeds) relate to the generous use of our time and may be combined under the heading “serving.” The latter two pursuits (be generous and willing to share) relate to the generous use of our money and possessions and may be combined under the heading “sharing.”

These endeavors reverse the pull of arrogance. Serving and sharing are two disciplines that counterbalance the potentially lethal effects of growing wealth.

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Your Turn

How do you practice generosity to rid yourself of arrogance? How do you serve others to live out humility? Join the conversation! Leave your comments below. ~ Devotionals Daily