What Does 1 Timothy 6:17 Mean?

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 Timothy 6:17(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

All wisdom is from God, and all that we need for our learning is given in His Word. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and a knowledge of the holy One gives understanding – but godly wisdom is rooted in faith and faith always comes back to trusting the Lord at all times and for all things. It is when we stray from the path of trusting God by putting our hope in an alternative provision like our own flawed, human wisdom or our own accumulated wealth, that we find ourselves on a slippery slope into the proud, pagan mindset that excludes God from our thinking and places our feet on the quicksand of this fallen world system.

Whether we are rich or poor, young or old, male or female, slave or free, our trust should rest securely in God's provision. We should not trust in our own abilities nor should we rely on our personal bank balance. We should maintain our hope in the Lord Who made heaven and earth, and be content with our lot. No matter what our circumstances may be, our trust should be in our Heavenly Father and not in our own financial intuition.

And in the closing section of his first letter to Timothy, Paul lays emphasis on the correct Christlike attitude toward riches and wealth and its connection to godliness and contentment. He writes: "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." We are not to wallow in an egocentric swamp of self-reliance, but to trust Him implicitly. We are to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act in our lives, for he has promised to richly supply us with all things to enjoy.

Paul was well aware of the dangers that accompany an attitude of self-reliance, the accumulation of wealth, and the peril associated with the lust for power and position. He knew that a mindset that fixed its hope on the uncertainty of this world's riches would cease to be that of a man that maintains his trust in God's provision. Throughout Scripture, we are reminded to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not to rely on our own knowledge, abilities, accumulated wealth, or understanding... and how frequently we are implored to cast all our cares and concerns upon Him, knowing that He cares for us, provides for us, defends us, and upholds us.

While the natural man seeks after the polluted waters of human wisdom and places his faith in the grand accumulation of worldly wealth, the believer in Christ is exhorted to reject such worldly philosophies and is warned not to become influenced by this pagan mindset. In this passage, Paul was warning that the accumulation of monetary wealth can cause someone to become conceited. It can inspire a false sense of security in one's own sufficiency and develop an inflated belief in one's own importance and worth.

God’s ways are not man's ways. He knows that the wisdom of this world is foolishness and that the greedy accumulation of worldly wealth is vanity for it develops, in the proud hearts of men, an attitude of independence from God that is unwise, unpredictable, and will result in certain calamity.

The writer of Proverbs prays for neither poverty nor riches but rather requests, from God, his daily bread. Accumulation of riches encourages self-sufficient independence from the Lord. And though exaggerated lack can sometimes provoke a trusting reliance upon the Lord, it can often evoke a murmuring, discontented heart of unbelief. Yet real wisdom is found through trusting the Word of the Lord in all things and believing that He will supply all that we need in this world, according to His riches in Christ Jesus.

The wealth of this world is passing away, but the riches of God that are ours in Christ, are eternal. We should place neither trust in our own sufficiency nor fix our hope on that which is fading away, but maintain faith in the Word of the Lord which reminds us that our hope in today’s provision is from His gracious hand, and that our secure hope for the future comes from Jesus Christ alone.

My Prayer

Loving Father, I know that I live in the world and can be influenced by the false schemes and lying strategies of this present evil age which can cause me to take my eyes off You. Thank You for Your gracious provision, and may my reliance rest on You completely. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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