The Perils and Possibilities of the Rich
1 Timothy 6:17-19
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God…

I. THE DANGERS OF THE RICH are manifold, but only two or three are suggested here.

1. The danger of self-conceit is hinted at in the words, "Charge them that are rich in this world that they be not high-minded." The vulgar boasting of wealth, and the ostentatious display of it, are indications of this. Again, the self-sufficiency that leads a successful man to attribute all his gains to his own shrewdness and diligence, and to speak contemptuously of those who never get on in the world, as if God had nothing to do with his physical energy and mental calibre, with the education and training of his youth, or with the unexpected opportunities of his manhood, is another sign of "high-mindedness." The pride which refuses to associate with those whose income is smaller, and which will hold aloof from intelligent and religious men and women, in order to cultivate acquaintance with those whose minds are shallow, but whose establishments are costly, and whose influence in the money market is great.

2. Another danger threatening rich men is that of trusting to uncertain riches. It is on this evanescence that Paul lays stress when he speaks of the folly of trusting to them. He hints at the conquest of this by exercising confidence in the living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy. The remembrance of the fact that God gave you money adds sacredness to it, a sense of responsibility in the use of it, and arouses the gratitude and praise which are His due.

II. THE OPPORTUNITIES OF THE RICH are as noteworthy as their dangers.

1. They can "do good" to others, and many a noble institution has its source in the generous and wise gifts of those whom God has prospered. But besides this —

2. They can do noble things. The words used by Paul, which are both rendered "good" (in the R.V. as well as the A.V.), have not the same meaning in Greek. They would be better translated, "Charge them that they do good, and that they be rich in noble deeds." The latter word used by Paul signifies what is honourable and lovely in itself. It fell from the lips of our Lord when He described Mary's act of devotion. Rich men can afford to make wise and noble experiments in philanthropy and in Christian enterprise.

III. THE RECOMPENSE OF THE RICH who are thus faithful is not obscurely taught in the words which describe them as laying up in store for themselves "a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." Of course, Paul does not mean that they gain eternal life by their good works. No one insists more strongly than he does on the fact that salvation is the gift of sovereign grace to the sinful and undeserving. But from its nature this grace becomes a talent, with which we are to do service for God. And since the nature of the future recompense is found in the development of life, all that makes that life more full of possibility and of result lays up in store a good foundation against the time to come. The fact is, that the connection between this life and that is far closer than many imagine it to be.

(A. Rowland, LL. B.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

WEB: Charge those who are rich in this present world that they not be haughty, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on the living God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy;

The Opportunity of Doing Good
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