What to do with your Treasure? (1 Timothy 6:17-21)

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What to Do with Your Treasure

1 Timothy 6:17-21

You hold one of two viewpoints. You do what you want or you do what God wants. You spend money as your own or you invest money as if it’s His. You save money for your future or save money for your eternity. Get as much money as you can or give as much money as you’re able. Give when you have extra surplus or give from the first of God’s supply. Keep money in order to justify your materialism or steward money in order to honor your master. Two prevailing positions–two major extremes.

Each of you are somewhere in between. But in your heart which viewpoint is dominant–getting or giving, self-serving or sharing, buying for yourself or blessing others? All of us struggle with our treasures that Paul now discusses as he concludes 1 Timothy. Open your Bibles to 1 Timothy 6 and follow along in your outline.

In chapter 6, Paul is talking to Ephesus on how each believer is to behave in church. Paul has given instructions to Timothy on how men and women, elders and deacons, older men and women, younger men and women, widows and now Paul will give instructions to everyone who is materially rich and everyone who is spiritually rich.

And the shocker–how you deal with money and how you deal with Scripture will expose your maturity. Make no mistake, only the generous are spiritually mature. Only those who guard the Scripture are the deep in Christ. All believers are stewards. You are responsible to protect, manage and use what God has given to you. God has given you material wealth and spiritual treasure–do you protect, manage and use it?

The first area in verses 17 to 21 Paul calls you to steward is your money and material possessions. Paul just finished exalting God in worship in verses 15 and 16. There Paul told us God’s rule is universal–His reign is invincible, His life immortal, His holiness unapproachable, His character inconceivable, His power absolute, and His worship all deserving.

Yet when your worship is heart-driven, you’re not merely singing songs, you are fully offering yourself. You’re committing yourself to God–saying to Him, “Not my will, but yours be done.” You’re offering your life as a living sacrifice, willing to obey God in everything. Jesus said to the enemy in Matthew 4:10, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only”–and that includes all your money and possessions.

You might protest. Paul already discussed money in verses 5 to 10–and you’d be right. But in verses 5 to 10 Paul spoke to those who desire to be rich. Now in verses 17 to 19 Paul instructs those who are already rich with money and possessions. Now stop right now–some of you are thinking, “I’m not rich. I’m up to my eyeballs in debt. The people at Visa know me by my first name. My Visa bill makes them smile.”

Let me ask you, do you have food to eat, clothes to wear and a bed to sleep in? Then biblically, you are rich. You may not be Warren Buffet, but you are wealthy in God’s eyes on this earth. And the passage today is directed specifically at you and the rich in Ephesus.

Don’t freak out–don’t be distorted by what the false preachers teach. God does not expect the rich to give all their wealth away. God does expect the rich to use their money biblically. God doesn’t condemn the rich, but expects them to be obedient stewards. It’s not a sin to be rich nor have nice things–Job, Abraham and Solomon were all rich men. So were Lydia and Philemon. But it is a sin to love riches and a sin to fail to be a good steward of your wealth and possessions.

This is one of the main sins of American Christians–loving wealth and a failure to be a good stewards of wealth. So Paul guides Timothy to instruct those who are prosperous in Ephesus–not those who have the best chariots or palatial homes with acres of orchards. But those who have more than the essentials of food, clothing and shelter in today’s terms. The rich are all who have discretionary dollars–and you and I do. Paul doesn’t teach them to make a vow of poverty, but God does call each of you to offer up in worship a biblical approach to your material treasure.

#1  With Financial Treasure, GIVE Generously  Verses 17 to 19

Your money and all your possessions are a tool or a trap. Being wealthy is a tool to accomplish God’s purposes or a trap causing you to be tempted to sin. A.W. Tozer said, “The goal of every believer is to enjoy the blessedness of possessing nothing.” With money and possessions, if you can’t give it away you don’t own it–it owns you. With all you have, you are either close-fisted or open-handed.

In order for money to be a tool, you first must maintain the right attitude. Every Christian in this room must run from the dangers that accompany riches. The dangers everyone struggles with and the dangers you must avoid at all costs . . .

First  Do not REST in your RICHES but rely on God alone  Verse 17

If you have discretionary dollars, God gives instructions in verse 17. “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.”

Instruct is give orders, command, direct all those who have money and material wealth on this earth—we need direction. You must follow these crucial commands not to be conceited. Don’t be a snob. Do not arrogantly think you’re better than the poor. Be honest–when you see a homeless person, do you think you are better than they are? In your heart, do you elevate yourself over the family whose kids show up at church with uncombed hair and breakfast food staining their clothes?

Conceited means thinking lofty, being haughty, having an exalted opinion of oneself. It’s looking down on those in a lower economic rung and putting on airs of superiority. Riches and pride often go hand in hand. The wealthier you are, the greater the temptation for pride. You might begin to think those blue collars are lower than white collars, wage earners as better than homemakers, full-time employees as better than part-time.

You suffer from what Proverbs 28:11a talks about, “The rich man is wise in his own eyes.” Run from this. You have substance, why? Because God is sovereign. You say, “I worked for my salary.” Who gave you the energy? “I made the better choices.” Who gave you your mind?

If you crave riches, you’re proud. You’ve forgotten how wretched you are. You’re a rebel, deserving judgment. You’re a corrupted sinner who needs new eyes to see, a new mind to think and a new heart of humility. God will not put up with your conceit forever.

Paul adds, don’t be one who fixes their hope on the uncertainty of riches. Trusting wealth is foolish. Proverbs 11:28, “He who trusts in his riches will fall.” Those who have much tend to trust in riches, while those who have little have to trust in God to supply their needs. Many foreign believers don’t know how Americans can trust God in the midst of such a wealthy culture.

Jesus reminds us how foolish it is to rest in riches in Luke 12:16 to 21, “He told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 And he began reasoning to himself, saying, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?” 18 Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’ ” 20 But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” 21 So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’ ”

Rather than banking on bucks, believers are to fix their hope on God. Verse 17, “Not to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God.” God owns everything–you don’t own your stuff, God does. It’s not yours, it’s His–all of it. Let me prove it, ready? When you die, how much of your money and how many of your possessions will still be yours? How much of it will you take with you?

It’s not yours–all of it is His. Then why did God loan it to you? Look at verse 17, “but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. “ God provides more security than any earthly investment and God gives you things for you to enjoy. Not so you’ll treasure the gift, but for you to glorify the giver.

Giving Him glory for your wealth and your possessions is actually what brings you joy and it brings God pleasure. He loves it when you honor Him by enjoying His gifts. God richly supplies you with all things, giving you out of His unlimited riches. God is the giver of all gifts and the source of all wealth. God is a giver–as you live like Him, you’ll be a giver too.

And God gives richly, so every believer can give richly. Run from resting on your riches and like Christ, give yourself away. Give, from the abundant supply God gave you.

Second  Give GENEROUSLY like God has given to you  Verse 18

Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.” The verb instruct is assumed from the previous verse as Paul challenges all Christians with discretionary dollars to give generously. Paul uses four unique phrases in order to remove all the excuses, to motivate you to grow generous. How does Paul say it?

1  TO DO GOOD is only used here in the New Testament and only one word in Greek. It comes from two Greek words, energy and good–to work and good, to do good work, to work good. Rich people need to be reminded to work hard, to have a job and work hard at it. Work to make money, but do your job legally, morally, give your best energy at work. Work without lying, cheating, or manipulating. Make money by working hard. Why? In order to be able to be generous. And . . .

2  TO BE RICH IN GOOD WORKS–not merely work hard, but give to others. Literally, be rich in beautiful works, like Mary of Bethany who poured oil on Jesus feet. These are the type of works that worship the Lord and point to His giving character. God does not intend for your money or possessions to be horded or doled out sparingly. God wants you rich in good works.

Rich means abounding. Your material wealth is to be used to accomplish beautiful good works which are God-honoring purposes, in obedience to God’s Word, pointing to God’s Gospel and accomplishing God’s glory. Not wishes for whales, kisses for kitties–but God’s mission, accomplishing God’s will.

Already in this very letter, 1 Timothy, God taught you to use finances to support your family, needy widows, church leaders and believers in need. Here he says the church and others in need. The duty of all believers–anyone with discretionary income is to use their resources to meet the needs of others and invest in God’s purposes. The only cure for materialism is generous giving–that’s why Paul adds . . .

3  TO BE GENEROUS–here is the needed motive. Give from a generous heart. Generosity is one indicator of true maturity. As you give, give generously. The Greek word generous means bountiful. The duty of the rich is to meet needs and give to God’s good purposes beyond the minimum. But that requires a generous heart. How do you grow generous? By growing deep in your understanding of the incredible generosity of God toward you.

Was Christ generous to you? Then you be generous toward Christ, His people and His purposes. The poor Macedonians in 2 Corinthians 8:1 to 4 who were barely able to feed their own families, gave sacrificially from an open and unrestrained, generous heart. They could choose to fully feed the kids or give—and they chose to give. All mature Christians are generous, and . . .

4  AND READY TO SHARE–earning money from work to generously give to others is all a part of true fellowship. Ready to share is from the word fellowship. And fellowship means to share Christ verbally and behaviorally with others. If you spend most on yourself and give little, you are not ready to share. Some of you don’t get it.

When you give generously, you are showing off Christ. True generous giving is often done secretly, as God commands His children to faithfully, sacrificially and regularly give to His purposes. First Corinthians 16:1 and 2 says it this way, “Now concerning the collection for the saints . . . 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.”

But this readiness to share also involves God moving you to intimately shock others to generously share money or assets so they’d think of Christ meeting their need. I’ve experienced sharing like that many times and many of you have as well. Every single time it made me think of Christ–His care for me, His involvement in the details of my life. It reminded me of Christ’s continual love.

If you ask your heavenly Father for bread, He is not going to give you a stone–and God often uses people to share with you. God uses people to show He cares. There are other times you must not give to move the irresponsible, to behave responsibly and exercise self-control. But sharing finances and giving possessions is one indicator of spiritual maturity.

As you grow more like Christ, you will give like Christ. And you’ll deepen in your conviction that giving generously is rewarded in eternity and is a blessing for today. So Paul adds verse 19, “Storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”

Rich Californians need to consider the end result of giving generously. Paul urges the rich in Ephesus to think about the future. By giving material treasure, believers are storing up, amassing a treasure–literally developing an eternal fund. That Greek word foundation probably refers to your heavenly retirement fund. The goal of money and assets is not to amass a return in this life, but the next.

You know Matthew 6:19 and 20, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.”

Riches are given to you, to be given away. You can’t take it with you, but you can send it on ahead by giving generously now–not for you, but for Him. Not by you, but through you. All for His glory, and by His power. Giving generously like Jesus Christ gave you results in double dividends–Earth and Heaven, life now and life forever, now and later, blessing today and reward later. Giving generously glorifies God now and gives you eternal reward forever.

The health/wealth heretics are only partially right. They didn’t go far enough. They say, “Give to get.” The Bible says, “Give to get to give more like Christ.” And what happens when you give generously here on Earth? There is joy. Paul says, “so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed”–abundant life. There is crazy joy from giving.

Have you ever experienced the joy of generous giving? There are few things as fun and joyful as generous giving–plus think about what happens. The only truly happy rich people are those who practice generous giving. You give so that God’s Word will be taught and God’s Gospel will be proclaimed here. Then through foreign missions, people get saved who’ve you never met–until that day when they will greet you in Heaven with thanksgiving. What a day that will be!

Luke 16:9, “Make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.” Use your money now for God’s glory and enjoy the fullness of life now and eternal reward later. Now there is more to life than material treasure, so as Paul concludes this first letter to Timothy and Ephesus, he wants Timothy to value his spiritual treasure, so . . .

#1  With Financial Treasure, GIVE generously  Verses 17 to 19

#2  With Spiritual Treasure, GUARD zealously  Verses 20 to 21

Verses 20 and 21, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge– 21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.” The purpose of 1 Timothy was to support Timothy as he battles with difficult ministry in Ephesus and teach the Ephesians how to behave properly in God’s Church.

But this letter was also written to remind the Ephesians what Church is all about. So when Paul described to Timothy in chapter three why he wrote, he also reminded Timothy and Ephesus this in 1 Timothy 3:15, “I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, …the church is…the pillar and support of the truth.”

For 2,000 years, the Church has been attacked on the outside by persecution and attacked on the inside by false teaching. The Church, its members and leadership were to make certain we all zealously battle for the truth–in what way?

First  Make certain you are GUARDING  Verse 20a

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you.” See the emphasis–hear Paul’s heart? Oh Timothy exclamation point–like when your kids are in trouble, you use their full name . . . Chris Charles Mueller. The emphasis here is not, “You are in trouble,” but toward a beloved son in the faith—“Oh my Timothy.”

O Timothy–this is far more important than money or wealth or possessions. O Timothy, you will give account for your money, but you will really give an account for what you’ve done with the truth—guard it. Do not compromise it, abandon it, manipulate it, merely apply it or have it move you emotionally–or as is so popular, preach how it impacted you. No, guard it–teach the author’s intended message, draw out what Paul meant by what Paul said to Timothy. Hear God’s Word alone, even when it’s difficult, anti-cultural or offensive.

For 2,000 years, men and women have given their lives as martyrs to guard the truth of God’s Word and you and I must be ready to do the same. I’m ready to be arrested for teaching homosexuality is sin, abortion is murder, men and women have distinct roles, and smoking pot is the same as getting drunk—are you?

Guard, proclaim, teach and hand the truth down unadulterated to the next generation. Guard what has been entrusted–literally deposited in you, committed to your care. God made a deposit in Timothy’s bank–now Tim, be responsible for it. Timothy was taught well and all those who’ve been well-taught are responsible. To whom much is given, much is? Required.

Protect the truth–uphold sound doctrine. And preserve the purity of the Gospel. The Gospel belongs to God, Timothy–and you are to protect it. Besides defending, teaching and preaching the truth, how else do you guard it?

Second  Make certain you are AVOIDING  Verse 20b

Avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge.’” Do not waste any time on the inanities/stupidities of these false teachers who understand nothing. How many of you would board a plane where every single person was infected with smallpox, Spanish flu, Black Death, Malaria, Aids, cholera and Typhus? Or would you wait and take a different flight?

Paul says, “Timothy, turn away from false doctrine. Avoid it like the deadly plague it is.” Worldly refers to everything outside the realm of truth–thus unholy and profane. Empty chatter consists of useless, vain arguments that lead to ungodliness. Opposing arguments is the Greek word where we get the English word antithesis–the opposing view.

Timothy was to avoid the pseudo-intellectual arguments of those who merely wanted to attack Scripture or offer views contrary to apostolic teaching. Sounds obvious, but it wasn’t–they spoke with great reason, gave impressive data, even calling it knowledge. But it was all bad. It was not junk food–it was poison.

So Timothy, elders of Ephesus, and you and I today–avoid false teaching like a plague. “But,” you say, “I want to understand their arguments. I like the way they teach.” Paul says to you . . .

Third  Make certain you’re EMBRACING the DANGER of error  Verse 21

Which some have professed promising and thus gone astray from the faith.” Paul says if you dive into these truths, you’re playing with unstable nitro. You say, “I like what they write–they’re insightful.” That’s like saying, “Here, drink this cup of ebola.” Never play around with error or listen to the authors of error. It’s dangerous and dumb. Why?

Have you memorized the Bible yet? Have you read every great Christian book? Focus on that and stop being enamored or drawn away with error and those who teach it. Paul’s description of this danger in verse 21 should scare you. How should verse 21 frighten you? When God genuinely saves, you are eternally stuck–you cannot lose your salvation. You are eternally secure.

But how you personally experience your security is through assurance of salvation. Assurance of salvation is not based on a decision you made, the family you are a part of, the good deeds you’ve done or service you currently give. Assurance is based upon the fruit of your life. Does Christ live through you?

Assurance is based on the direction of your life–are you headed toward Christ or not? Assurance is based on the truth you believe and the truth you seek to live by. If there’s no fruit, if you’re headed in the wrong direction, if you believe errant truths, you are giving evidence you are not eternally secure. A Christian who lives without fruit and believes errant teaching is either disobedient awaiting God’s discipline, or they’re deceived awaiting God’s eternal damnation.

Verse 21 says those who have professed errant truths–like saying Jesus is not God, there is no Trinity, or salvation is by works and they have professed/owned those errors. They show themselves not to be genuinely saved. They have, verse 20, “gone astray,” deviated from the truth, shown they were never saved.

Embrace the danger of tolerating, approving, or professing error. Guard the truth by rejecting error. If you follow Christ, you must be willing to call error wrong. Do not engage false teachers on their terms–call them out. Tell them, “You’re wrong!” And finally, the very end of 1 Timothy . . .

Fourth  Make certain you’re RELYING on God  Verse 21b

Paul wraps up the entire letter of 1 Timothy with one simple, poignant phrase, “Grace be with you.” Timothy, make certain it is God’s grace, which is His unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor and blessing, which continues to strengthen and enable you Timothy, in this difficult assignment in Ephesus.

What is more shocking is, Paul talks to the entire church here–the “you” is plural, talking to all of you to rely on God and His resources alone, and you will be rich.


1  Material and spiritual treasure exposes your actual MATURITY?

You may be a 20-year Christian, but you are only genuinely mature in Christ when the purity of God’s Word and protecting the Gospel of God are passionate commitments of your life. And you may be a 5- to 10-year believer, but you are only truly mature in Christ when you budget your money, give generously to Christ’s Church and the proclamation of God’s Word and the true Gospel of grace.

2  Grow generous by practicing GRATEFULNESS for all you have in Christ

You grow generous when you realize just how generous Christ has been to you. You give first when you remember Christ gave first to you. You give more when you are impacted by the incredible need there is for God’s Word to be taught and His Gospel to be proclaimed without error.

You will give abundantly when you recognize God made you rich in order to give. So budget your resources–make giving first, then work out how much you keep for yourself. Then start praying and dreaming about generously giving since the only escape from materialism is generous giving.

3  Treasure those things in life that are ETERNAL

Our God is eternal, God’s Word is eternal, and people are eternal. Things are not eternal.The earth is not eternal. Sports, movies, games are not eternal. Yet what excites you most? Where do your affections lay? What stirs your emotions most? What do you run to when you have time, or what do you buy when you have money?

What do you treasure? Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Your heart is focused on what you treasure. Paul challenges believers to treasure Christ, the Gospel, God’s Word over material things and money. Ask yourself, is that true of me and is it obvious?

4  Do you manifest genuine ASSURANCE of salvation?

Assurance is not because you accepted Jesus into your heart sometime in the past. Assurance is not because you attend a Bible-teaching church. Assurance does not result from serving in ministry or giving a little. Assurance is experienced in a life which is pursuing Christ, believing sound doctrine, producing the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of good works in service to others.

Are you assured of your salvation? Have you surrendered your life to Christ? Do you believe He is God who was born the God-man, died on the cross to bear the wrath of God for the sins of His children, rose from the dead and is the only way you can be right with God? Your sin falls on Christ on the cross and His righteousness covers you.

Are you ready to face God in judgment? My kids live in Hawaii and just a few weeks ago, all of Hawaii’s cell phones showed this announcement—“Ballistic Missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.” Imagine that was true and you have 20 to 30 minutes before most everyone, including yourself, dies and you immediately are ushered into the presence of God?

What will you say? “I tried to live good. I was nice. I prayed a prayer once”? Or will you say, “I trusted in the work of Christ alone and He caused me to be born again, giving me a heart that sought to please Him in all things, serve Him, give to Him. Are you truly in Christ? Are you ready to face God? Let’s pray.

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.

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