When it comes to ‘fiscal responsibility’ and the New Testament, I for one am challenged. I currently live in a 3bd, 2ba, 1400sq. ft. home in the holy city of Wilmore, KY. Ostensibly, this asset alone would qualify me as a very wealthy man in the eyes of the majority of world citizens. I feel the tension between the love of prosperity and the love of poverty. I go through seasons of selling and giving away my possessions only to return to buying new ones. I once held an ascetic ideal for clergy to not be paid and to live the lifestyle of a Franciscan monk. I never really ascribed to the prosperity gospel ideal of clergy (though secretly I would have gladly received the $$) being excessively blessed by God financially, usually in the selfish forms of mansions, expensive cars, suits, ect.
Reading through the entire book of Timothy this morning in one sitting (something I recommend for all the Epistles), I noticed Paul advising Timothy on a middle path between these two extremes. Money and wealth are a constant theme within Paul’s letter to the younger Timothy. Not being attached to money (loving, finding identity, or trusting in) is clearly spelled out as antithetical to the Gospel; however, being paid ‘well’, being content in what you have (not in what you don’t have), and giving away money for good works is to be the standard for not only clergy (elders and deacons), but all the priesthood of believers in Christ.
“I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches.”
— John Wesley (1703-1791).
1 Timothy on Money and Wealth:
- Women are told to dress modestly and not to draw attention to themselves “by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.” – 1 Tim 2:9
- A prerequisite for aspiring Elders and Deacons according to Paul are they shouldn’t love money or be dishonest with it. – 1 Tim 3
- Elders who do their work should be respected and paid well (especially those who work had at both preaching and teaching). – 1 Tim 19-20
- Writing against those who teach another gospel than his, Paul says, “To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy. Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.” – 1 Tim 6:5-6
- “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” – 1 Tim 6:10
- Teach those who are rich in the world not to be 1)proud 2) trust in their money (trust instead in God) 3)Use their money for good (being rich in good works and storing up treasures in heaven).