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Advent Devotional: Epiphany of the Lord

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That Which Is Truly Life

January 6, 2019

As for the rich . . . charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works . . . so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. — I Timothy 6:17-19

Although there were many poor Christians in Ephesus, Paul also knew committed Christians who happened to be rich. It was with them in mind that he penned the words above.

Christians who are blessed with material prosperity do not need to feel guilty about it. Nor do they need to divest themselves of their wealth unless God specifically calls them to do so. They are even allowed to enjoy themselves. God is no miser. “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim. 4:4).

However, this does not mean that we should live for luxury. Earthly pleasures can give no lasting joy. The only real and lasting joy is God himself, and anyone who finds joy in the Giver will also enjoy his gifts.

Yet the Bible has more to say about our prosperity than simply to say that we should enjoy it. Although there is nothing wrong with our money in and of itself, 1 Timothy 6:17 hastens to say that wealth is not to be trusted, in part because it can impart a false sense of importance and a false sense of security.

The only safe place to put our trust is in Christ himself. All prosperity comes from him, the Blessed Son of God. And it is impossible to think of God’s rich giving without thinking of his most lavish gift of all: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

This is the basic law of the divine economy: the rich become poor so that the poor might become rich. Those who have become rich by the grace of God must therefore be willing to enrich others. “In the end,” said Clement of Alexandria, “it is not the one who keeps, but the one who gives away, who is rich; and it is giving away, not possession, which renders a man happy.”4

One thing money cannot buy is any more of life itself. Earthly riches have no life-giving power. But a person who gives possessions away for the sake of Jesus Christ has begun to “take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:19).

4 Clement of Alexandria, “True Wealth,” condensed from The Tutor and reprinted in Re:generation Quarterly 4, 4 (1998): 14.


Have your possessions ever given you a false sense of importance or security?

Let Us Pray

Oh, Blessed Son of God help us to remember that all good gifts come from you alone. Let us never forget our gratitude for the lavish gift of eternal life through your holy Son Jesus, and help us to share our good gifts for the enrichment of others. Amen.

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