I Hold On Too Tight

Here’s one of my failures: I’m often least content in the most abundance. Specifically, when I’m on vacation, dread slowly seeps through me—dread of not being on vacation. It’s absurd, and wrong, really. In clutching what I want, I never enjoy holding it at all.

1 Timothy suggests that this is an age-old problem, not only with vacation, but with good times in general. When we’re rich, it’s easy to feel proud, despite the fact that when we’re proud of being rich, we’re clutching an extremely fragile hope. That’s why Paul tells Timothy:

As for the rich in this present age, 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, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

-1 Timothy 6:17-19

Rich times are good times to get over wealth. Teaching our hearts to be content, grateful, and full in lean times not only prepares us for having less, it also frees us to enjoy the abundance we happen to be in now.

Giving away is a good way to get over wealth. Paul promises that through generosity we “store up treasure for ourselves as a good foundation for the future”: Perhaps because those with whom we share will want to share with us. Perhaps because the God for whom we’re generous will want to be generous with us. Perhaps simply because by being “rich in good works” we “take hold of that which is truly life.”

Without a trustworthy God, we couldn’t distrust riches. Here’s the parallel warning: Without distrusting riches, we can’t really trust God. Only in moving our hope from riches to God will we “learn the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” If we are in Christ, we need not and most not truly fear the end of any earthly thing, because God—not wealth—offers us that which is truly life.

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