Rev. David Heim
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
(1 Timothy 6:17-19)
For many years, my wife and I have received a Christmas letter from a former neighbor, now in her 80s, updating us on her life. The letter is invariably about her involvements in her church, her housing association, service agencies, and political campaigns.
Each year, I put down the letter thinking: what a rich life for a person of any age—rich in good works and rich in sharing life with others. Habits of generosity she learned long ago continue to shape her. Or as the writer of First Timothy would say, she is “taking hold of the life that really is life.”
That line about “the life that really is life” is one I keep returning to. Who doesn’t long for a life that is the opposite of false, empty, and inauthentic? Though the passage starts out as a rebuke to the wealthy for being arrogant and trusting in riches, which are fleeting, it ends with a gracious invitation to take hold of the life truly worth living.
As I think about our friend’s Christmas letter and about these words of scripture, it seems clear that the capacity to be generous grows out of being part of communities in which we recognize our dependency on each other and on God. The ultimate foundation for such a way of life is hope in God, and every generous deed helps build up our storehouse of hope.
Prayer: Generous God, help us to set our hopes on you that we might truly live. Amen.