Are you focused on this present world or on eternal life?
Gracious Lord, disappointment can wrap around my feet and pull me down. I need Your touch of mercy, Your welcoming grace.
1 Timothy 6:17-21
Consider: The Apostle Paul moves from the eternal and "unapproachable" God (16) to some practical matters. In Paul's mind, the everyday and the eternal are constantly intersecting.
Eternal values and universal virtues are always applied to specific contexts. This can be paralleled by the Incarnation: Jesus came from God to become a person in a historical context. The Gospel has the same motion for us today, from universal principles to concrete situations.
The universal and the specific are clearly seen in the relationship between virtues and possessions. Possessions are not qualified as right or wrong, but rather Paul speaks of the character of the person holding them. Arrogance is something to get rid of and exchange it with "hope in God" (17). To enjoy our possessions is expected as much as "to do good," "good deeds," or be "willing to share" (18).
A clear eternal benefit is to have hope in God, not in wealth (19). Our culture emphasizes our freedom to do whatever we want with our money, yet people often criticize the wealthy. However, sometimes the most fervent critics of the wealthy are those most reticent to share and loosen control of their own possessions.
To hope in God is to believe that his ways are the best and most beneficial for humankind, anywhere and in any age. Even when it seems contradictory, we are invited to share because in that paradox resides the reason for having possessions in the first place. A value system is prior to riches. It is eternal, while riches are temporal. If the Christian value system is in place, there will be no incorrect use of wealth. When the Christian value system is ignored, selfish attitudes and injustices dictate the use of wealth.
Paul finishes with a more general statement: "Guard what has been entrusted to your care" (20). There are those who have been entrusted with knowledge, and others with wealth. In any case, all Christians need to be on guard for anything that takes them away from the faith (20).
Apply: Are you more focused on "this present world" or on "eternal life" (12) and the "immortal" (16)?
Father God, help me to live for the future, not to be trapped by the past. Only You can enable me to invest generously now in love, trusting You for the outcome.