As we approach this Christmas season–indeed, as we live any day in any year–are there guidelines, principles, or maxims from God to direct our shopping and to guide our giving? Indeed there are, including a healthful cluster of instructions found in 1 Timothy 6:17-19. We might have overlooked them, because they are directed to “those who are rich” and we assumed that meant someone else. However, we need to know that the rich person in Timothy’s world, and in most of the world ever since, is any person who is wearing clothes and who owns other clothes they are not wearing. It is anyone who eats food today and still has food they can eat tomorrow. With that in mind, here are six paraphrased precepts to help guide our use of money, lifted from a letter sent to Timothy by his mentor, Paul of Tarsus, the Apostle to the nations.
1. Don’t think (or act like) you are better than anybody else.
2. Don’t let money make you feel secure. It is totally unstable. God is the only true Security.
3. Do good deeds.
4. Be “rich” in good works.
5. Be generous and ready to share.
6. For your own future, store treasures fitting for eternal life.
Does the definition of “rich” found in the first paragraph above surprise you? Can you acknowledge that we all are “rich” when measured by that description? Talk to someone (even if yourself) about the six instructions paraphrased above. What would compliance with each principle look like in real life as we approach Christmas this year?