“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.” (Reference: 1 Timothy 6:17-19 )
Paul, in his advice to Timothy, seems to be taking a careful middle line. And raising the issue of using one’s wealth to a spiritual and theological discussion. I always find it interesting to read Paul’s advice to Timothy, for it is a window to how Paul feels ministry should be done. Paul has not only Timothy’s congregation in his focus of concern, but Timothy as mentee and pastor also. It will be good for the rich, Paul says, to be generous with their wealth for it will win commendation in the life to come, and stop them from hoping that they can “buy” their way into heaven. And presenting it in this well, he advises Timothy, will make sure you do not offend them and cause them to stop helping those who are need. Now, Paul does not say that here explicitly, but knowing Paul that is what is behind his advice.
So, what does it mean to be rich? What does it mean to be poor? And what does it mean to be neither one . . . not rich enough to never worry . . . but not poor enough to always worry? Because I think that is where most of us would find ourselves. Being in the middle means that we are not sure which way to turn. Should our occasional worry be met with assistance? Should our confidence in having the resources we need move us to share with others? There is an old expression – borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. It means taking what is in one hand only to give it to another hand. It does not get you any further ahead (maybe even gets you a little behind), but it sounds good that you have been able to give something to Paul!
May you beloved in-the-middler have all that you need and a little more so that you can share with those on one side and be a good example to those on the other. Selah!