“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)
The context: This parable begins a discourse on how we should view our material possessions. Before this parable Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and the teachers of the law for changing God’s Word into something it was never intended to be: a set of rules and regulations. After His rebuke, He turns to His disciples and tell them to fear God instead of their spiritual leaders because God has infinitely more power over their destiny. Then the topic changes when someone asks Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
After this parable Jesus continues to talk about our material needs by saying that we should ‘seek his kingdom, and these things [material needs] will be given to you as well’.
Comments: When the man asks Jesus to arbitrate between him and his brother, Jesus immediately goes to the heart of the problem: greed. The word that is translated into ‘greed’ can also be translated as “avarice,” or “covetousness.” ‘Note the warning covers more than money and gets at the root attitude – the strong desire to acquire more and more possessions and experiences’ (NETBible).
In the parable it is clear that the main character is very self-absorbed. The NETBible comments, “It is selfishness that is rebuked here, in the accumulation of riches for himself. Recall the emphasis on the first person pronouns throughout the parable”.
Application: Jesus makes an important point here: greed is pointless (as it is with all sin). Our aim in life should be to become rich in our knowledge and service of, and relationship with God. Jesus emphasize this last point in the next part of the text when He reminds His listeners that God knows their material needs: it is foolish to worry about material things.
If we are not careful, we can start serving our material needs instead of our material needs serving the purpose God has designed them for: to help us accomplish the task He has called us to, the task of worshiping God in everything we do, and through this worship showing all people how great God is.
How about you? Are you serving your material needs? Or have you, by God’s grace, reached a place where you trust God to provide everything you need (not necessarily everything you want)?