Advance Foundation Work
Advance Foundation Work (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
You can build a foundation for life that will last into the age to come. That foundation depends on what you do with your wealth. The words of this text are addressed to the "rich." In contrast to the biblical world, that includes most of us. By any global standard of comparison, most people hearing this message are affluent. Paul urges the young pastor Timothy to give an authoritative and repeated warning to affluent people. That warning applies to most of us. That warning needs to be repeated because the negative temptations and the positive opportunities of the affluent are always with us.
By the use of your wealth in the present age you are building a foundation for the age to come. What you give does not earn your salvation but it does affect your standing in the age to come. You are building a foundation forever as you use your wealth in the present.
Your Feelings About Wealth Build a Foundation
There is a careful negative and positive description of how we should feel about our wealth. Negatively, we should reject a certain attitude toward people and toward wealth. Toward people, we should "not. . . be arrogant." Toward those who have less, those who have more should not be haughty, arrogant, or superior. It is common for those who have more to demand and even expect that those who have less look up to them, pay them deference. This overestimate of self is exactly the opposite of the Christian attitude which "in humility considers others better than themselves" (Phil. 2:3). The one who is affluent in this age ought to confess his spiritual poverty and take his position alongside all his brothers (Jas. 1:10).
We should also reject an attitude toward wealth: "Command those who are rich not . . . to put their hope in wealth." We are never to put our hope or anchor our confidence in the uncertainty of riches. The main characteristic of wealth is its uncertainty. "Cast but a glance at riches and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle" (Prov. 23:5).
Positively, all should "put their hope in God." The one certain security of our life should be God. When you think about your ultimate security, what first comes to your mind? Bank accounts, stocks, real estate, pensions, or the equity in your home should not be the first things to come to your mind. When you think of security you should first think of God. Our confidence in God is not divorced from His provision for us. He is by nature a giving God. He provides for us quantitatively and qualitatively. The purpose in His provision is that we enjoy the good things of life. God intends us to enjoy the pleasures of physical life. They are to be a joy. But they are not to take God's place as objects of ultimate hope and security.
Your Functions with Wealth Build a Foundation
Your activity with wealth builds a foundation forever. "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds." As a habit of life, the affluent are to continue to do good, beneficial things for others. The world speaks cynically about "do-gooders" because the world has no intention of doing good as a habit of life. Jesus went about doing good. Christians are lifelong do-gooders. We are to "abound in every good work" (2 Cor. 9:8). We are "not to become weary in doing good" (Gal. 6:9). We are not to minimize doing good, but "to be rich in good deeds." The more affluent you are in money, the more lavish you are to be in good deeds. We should be a people on the lookout for when, where, to whom, and how we can do good.
Behind this activity of doing good there must be an attitude. We are to be "generous." Paul uses a rare word which means to be bountiful, ready to impart, open-handed like God. Doing good cannot be a shallow activity without a deeper attitude or it will not last. You develop an attitude of generosity by imitating God and practicing generous acts.
Your accessibility to need builds a foundation. "Willing to share" (v. 18) means literally "keep on fellowshipping." We are not to hold aloof or be inaccessible. We must be affable and ready to welcome others who have need. The Christian person is to be open to fellowship with all brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those with real need.
Your Foundation Stands Sure for the Future
You can't take it with you, but you can send it ahead! It is a fact that you lay up treasure for yourself in the life beyond (v. 19). Everyone is storing up something. Some are storing up wrath in the life beyond by their stubborn and unrepentant hearts (Rom. 2:5). Others are storing up a treasure by their use of wealth in this life. What you give away in this age meets you in the age to come (Rev. 14:13). You can send some it ahead and the rest of it follows you.
The firmness of this foundation enables you to stand upon it while you "take hold of the life that is truly life." To reach out and grasp the life that is life indeed you must stand on a foundation of generous giving. What the world calls "life" is a mere phantom that ends immediately with death. What the Christian calls life always exists and does not end with death. The grasping person who does not give has every reason to question whether he has experienced the life that is life indeed. What you do with your wealth provides the foundation for the future. Build carefully.