“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).
Earlier in 1 Timothy 6:7-8, Paul the Apostle provided Timothy with an important reminder along with an application: “…we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content” (NLT). Here now in 1 Timothy 6:17, Paul will address the obligations of those who have been blessed with more than just these mere essentials.
Unlike Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler who idolized his wealth, Paul did not counsel the wealthy to dispose of their financial assets here in 1 Timothy 6:17. Nor did he criticize the affluent simply because they possessed more than others. Instead, Paul advised those who were financially prosperous to use their resources in a God-honoring manner.
Since God “…richly provides everything for our enjoyment” (CEB), we should be thankful to Him for the things that bring happiness, enjoyment, pleasure, or contentment in life. The problem comes when we fail to recognize the difference between financial motives and attitudes that honor God and those that don’t. For instance, Paul highlighted the temporal nature of earthly wealth in addressing “…those who are rich in this present age.” With this in mind, we are best served by adopting the attitude of a steward or manager in managing the financial resources that God provides for us.
Those who adopt this view can look forward to a good return on their investment- and in the words of Acts 20:35, “…It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Jesus also made the following promise in Luke 6:38…
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (NLT).
The act of amassing a large store of financial wealth without respect to the God who graciously provides such things is ultimately foolish. Thus, as one source observes, “Seeking riches for their own sake is wrong, but seeking to have something to share with others in need is not. Thus, while God ‘gives us richly all things to enjoy’ (1 Tim. 6:17), in the same breath He warns, ‘not … to trust in uncertain riches.'” (1)
(1) Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : a popular handbook on Bible difficulties (p. 502). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.