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Sep 28, 2023

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).

This week we are considering various texts that help us live out the horizontal elements of Immanuel’s tagline, “Together in Faith”. Today, we consider ‘the good life’. Most of us have an idea of what makes up “the good life”. Often, it includes greater financial security. One definition suggests it is “self-satisfaction, self-mastery, and personal fulfilment.” Another says, “doing things you enjoy, feeling interested in your activities, and feeling like what you do matters. A third says simply, “good relationships.” Notice that these are largely self-centred.

Our text addresses a Christian understanding of ‘the good life’. We are encouraged to ‘take hold of the life that is truly life.’ Even if we do not consider ourselves ‘rich in this present world’ there are lessons for us to embrace in this passage, helping us to take hold of this life that is truly life. A Christian understanding of ‘the good life’ is rooted in the vertical dimension. It’s God-orientated, not self-orientated.

It begins with a warning against arrogance. This is a posture that says, “I have made my life as success. The wealth I have, I have earned with my own hands. It’s mine. I now get to spend it as I desire.” We call this ‘entitlement.’ It often morphs into the attitude that if the poor would just work harder, they would get here too. With this warning is a reminder that wealth in this world is fleeting, eroding easily. Money is easier to lose than to gather.

Regardless of our financial security, the ‘good life’ begins with putting our hope in God. In place of arrogance, we embrace humility which comes when we acknowledge daily and even hourly that we deserve no better than the poorest citizen of this planet. Deuteronomy 8:18 helps us cultivate this, "Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth." Whatever we have is a gift God has given us to steward.

These gifts of God are to be used in two ways. First, we may to enjoy the material blessings God gives us. Christians are not called to have sour dispositions unable to enjoy life. God is a good God who gives good gifts to His children for their enjoyment. We must cultivate a spirit of joy in what God gives, no longer looking at what others have, but delighting in the things we have. Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from fewer wants.

Second, we develop a spirit of generosity. The ability to enjoy good things is not rooted in selfishness but in a deep understanding that they are gifts from God to be enjoyed and shared. Generosity is a lifestyle that is reflective of God's blessing in our lives. Because we have been blessed, we use our material blessings to bless other people.

With blessing comes responsibility, comes opportunity. We have opportunity to be conduits through which God can channel resources for his kingdom work. Do we have eyes that our open to the possibilities God places before us?

Notice again, how Paul puts it: "In this way"—by being generous—"we will lay up treasures for ourselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that we may take hold of the life that is truly life."

Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

The question is not how much we have, but what has us. It's not what we hold, but how tightly we hold it. Not what we have, but how we got it. Do we think we earned them, or did we receive them as a gift? Do the things we have make us proud or grateful; self‑sufficient or God‑sufficient?

Our words of blessing for this series, help us embrace the ‘good life’:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21).