Sunday Scripture – September 29, 2019
Paul probably wrote First Timothy after being released from house arrest and then doing some more traveling. Timothy was serving the church in Ephesus. The elders there had become misguided and were leading church members away from true Christianity. Paul offers Timothy advice about how to deal with the situation.
Timothy had grown up in the Church and had accompanied Paul in many of his missionary travels over a period of about twenty years. In fact, Timothy kind of became Paul’s protégé. He ended up being Paul’s most loyal and trusted partner in ministry.
In a 1990 episode of The Simpsons, fourth-grader Bart Simpson is asked to say the blessing over the family’s supper. He says: “Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.” Such scenes may be derided by some Christians, but they may also lead us to ask some important questions.
In Matthew 6, Jesus says our “hearts” – our attention, effort, concern, work, and love — are going to be with whatever we value the most. “You cannot serve God and ____.” Some us mammon, some money, and some wealth. Mammon is an Aramaic word that meant money and possessions.
The dangers we should be worried about are 1) that we begin to worship money and possessions instead of God, and 2) that we equate people’s worth by how much money and possessions they have, and this includes ourselves. Judging from other stories in the New Testament, God seems to be far more interested in what we do with money than how much of it we have.
In a world where churches struggle to pay the bills, advertising is everywhere and intrusive, credit is easily obtained, consumerism and materialism are rampant, and being in debt is accepted as normal or even unavoidable, learning to be good stewards of money is imperative.
1. Who do we have to thank for what we have: our own hard work, or God?
2. What’s your relationship with money like? What’s your attitude toward debt? Toward giving? Do the people you admire have those same attitudes?
3. Recall a time you gave someone a great gift, something the recipient truly loved and used well. It may have come at a cost. Maybe it even cost you a lot, and not just money. How did being generous make you feel?