Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. (1 Tim. 6:17)
A very real danger facing American Christians is the temptation to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches. To base their hope on the uncertainty of riches, instead of God, is foolish. Proverbs 11:28 warns that “he who trusts in his riches will fall.” Proverbs 23:4–5 adds, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.”
Rather than trusting in riches, believers are to fix their hope on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. God provides far more security than any earthly investment. Psalm 50:10–12 describes His incalculable wealth: “Every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all it contains.” God is not stingy; He richly supplies His children with all things to enjoy. Ecclesiastes 5:18–20 reads,
Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.
The highest form of joy for the believer is to bring glory to the Lord. True gladness, then, comes when believers give heed to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19–21:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Later, in that same passage, Jesus gives the command three times not to be anxious (vv. 25, 31, 34). When we trust in God rather than riches, we have no reason to worry.
This Article is adapted from John’s commentary on 1 Timothy (Moody, 1995).