1 Timothy 6:17 – 19 (New International Version)
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 (King James Version)
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; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
1 Timothy 6:17 – 19 (Message Paraphrase)
Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.
What is true life? It is a good subject to ponder, and one that I’ve spent some time considering after reading this passage. As I’ve read different versions, it seems to me that the Apostle Paul suggests that we can live without really experiencing true life, and that he admonishes us to make sure we are doing the things that allow us to take hold of, or gain “True Life.”
In the King James Bible, the scholars of the 14th century put the emphasis that generosity was a sign of someone who has taken hold of eternal life. More recently scholars have colored the words of the Apostle Paul to mean being generous is the way to gain a true and meaningful life. I think that both were probably intended by Paul, as eternal life is the ultimate full expression of a true and meaningful life.
Paul emphatically admonishes followers of Jesus that this true life has its source in God and flows through us in the from of generosity, being rich in good deeds with a willingness to share the overflow of God’s goodness with those in need. True life shows itself and blossoms when we learn how to release the goodness and grace of God that he has been poured into us and then overflows into the lives to those around us. As we become rich in good deeds and a willingness to share, true kingdom life expands in us.
Lastly, I love how the scholars of the 14th century expressed this generosity of the kingdom as “ready to distribute, willing to communicate.” This makes me ask the question, am I ready to be generous? Am I always ready to communicate in such a way that my words are good, gracious and life giving? While Paul is admonishing those who have wealth, are we not all rich in Christ Jesus?
In the words of Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” May our hope be in a gracious God, who has richly provided us with everything for our enjoyment, so that we might do good, be rich in good deeds, and be generous and willing to share. Our reward will be True Life!