“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-10 NIVUK (emphasis mine)
Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:31-33 NIVUK
Paul finishes his letter to Timothy with this charge, ““But you, man of God, flee from [false teaching and the love of money], and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:11-12 NIVUK (emphasis mine)
“I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” ’” – Acts 20:33-35 NIVUK
“Paul’s primary concern was for others, not himself”1. He sets an example of Jesus’s words, as quoted in the previous post.
Paul gives us a Scriptural reason for working hard: we do this, not for ourselves, but to help the weak. In many ways this is the exact opposite of what most of us think about the destination of the fruit of our labours. We often feel entitled to our income. We need God’s help not to succumb to the notions of popular culture. I know I do.
- The Moody Bible Commentary about the book of Acts
Lot’s decision to live, what must have appeared to be, the good life comes back to haunt him quite soon. He, his family, and all of his belongings are carried off as the spoils of war by “Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar“.
I have come to realize that when we are looking to God for guidance, and we seem to be presented with options that promises affluence, it is important to examine those options very carefully. God has blessed me with opportunities to experience life in poor and affluent communities, and I have come to realize the truth of Paul’s words to Timothy, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs“. Wealthy communities seem to be plagued with worry and depression, whereas poor communities are often exemplified by the joyful people in them – this is only a general observation, not a rule. May God bless us with wisdom as each one of us try to create the best possible home for our families, and may He bless us with faith that He will provide in all of our needs when it seems that He is guiding us into a financial situation that is less secure than what we have hoped for.
Abram is stirred into action by the news that his relative Lot has been taken into captivity, and he successfully frees Lot and all the other captives from the four kings. How do we respond when someone from our family is in trouble? Abram could have responded by saying, “Well that serves you right for choosing to live where you live”. Will that be our response? I think that individualism in Western culture has made us so selfish. Or will we be stirred into action right away, like Abram, and risk our lives to help them?
Melchizedek king of Salem points out to Abram on his return that “God Most High . . . delivered your enemies into your hand“. It is not possible to do anything of worth without God’s help. On a sidenote, the Bible refers to Melchizedek again in Psalm 110 and Hebrews 5. These passages make use of the idea that Melchizedek is a kingly priest, foreshadowing Jesus our King and High Priest. More about that later . . .
Abram’s integrity is clearly displayed when the king of Sodom offers him some of the spoils of war and he declines it. He didn’t go into the confrontation with the four kings to gain material wealth for himself, probably the motivation behind the five kings’ attack on the four kings, but he wanted to free his family from captivity. May the Lord help us to be people of integrity, people without greed who trust in the Creator of this universe to know our needs and to provide in them.