Paul’s parting words to close out his first letter to Timothy share great wisdom. While he is using the example of a rich person, I realize not everybody has great riches. In fact, there is more poverty in this world than wealth. If you have healthy bank accounts, Paul’s message should surely resonate with you!
Several readings ago, Paul spoke of being careful of the evil money can evoke. It’s not the money that is evil, it can be used for good. So, Paul encourages Timothy, “Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.” We have all known very generous people, but also seen those who keep all their wealth to themselves.
Paul’s first letter to Timothy has cautioned his young friend about relationships and leadership roles as well as certain things to be careful of in starting a new church. Now Paul encourages action. Our faith needs to move! I love how Paul recognizes Timothy as a man of God. Isn’t that how we’d like to be seen by our mentors and friends?
It would be easy to sit back and reap the benefits of having a relationship with Jesus. But we are called to move as well. Jesus gave us our marching papers when he told us to make disciples!
Look around your community. Do you see big houses in one area and smaller, run-down ones in another area? We do see that clear division between people based on their economic standing. God’s love and mercy is available for all, the rich and the poor!
Where’s the wealth? Paul suggests we are wealthy simply by being believers who will inherit the kingdom. “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” Ponder that verse for just a moment. You may need to put aside your current financial needs for just a moment lest they interfere with your feeling the enormous blessing you have as a follower of Jesus. Great wealth indeed!
Paul wants to make sure he has covered the bases in terms of relationships within the church. It comes down to an attitude of respect that can also be applied to relationships outside the church family as well. Paul’s instruction to teach these things and encourage such behavior tells us of the importance of such practices. Paul was equipping Timothy to be a successful leader.
To maintain a thriving church, Paul starts by focusing on the elders and how they should be treated. “Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching.” Did you note the expectation that elders do their work well? I’m curious what being “paid well” meant in Paul’s day!
Sorry men for being upstaged by women in this reading! This is not the first time we have seen how widows are addressed as special. The Bible has always been especially mindful of widows. Here, Paul differentiates between young and old widows. Interesting that when widows turn 60 years of age they are considered “old.”
Having attained that milestone age myself, I certainly don’t feel old (most days). Thankfully, I am not a widow either. But living here in Mexico near a community of expats, many of them are “old” single widows. Many of them are living their lives out loud, enjoying themselves and this new season of life. It’s been delightful to see.