Peeling the onion

Here are the promised musings for more treasures from 1 Timothy 6. I’ve known this passage since childhood, but must admit that at times I’ve wondered what it really means. It has many layers…not unlike an onion! I’ll use the KJV translation because it more closely follows the Greek concordance. It helps to see what the original words are. My husband has always wanted to be able to read in Greek and Hebrew so he could read the scriptures and translate them himself! Although I’m not that ambitious, it is wonderful to use tools like Strong’s Concordance.

images.jpg17Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

Charge them that are rich

The word rich is plousios. It means “abounding in material resources.” What is a material resource? It’s different in different cultures. The Intuits who live in Alaska in igloos have a different take on material resources than we do in modern America. But here in Texas, we can define material resources as: cars, trucks, SUVs, tractors, rollerskates, clothes, pets, computers, houses, livestock, furniture, linens, a stocked pantry, refrigerator, air conditioning, ceiling fans, nail polish, televisions, radios, books, toothbrushes, money in the bank…and on and on. So what that means is…people who are rich in stuff.

In this world, that they not be highminded

This Greek word for world is aion, and it means period of time. Timothy is to warn those who are rich in material resources in this particular period of time on earth that they should not be highminded. What a word! I remember being in elementary school and feeling second rate next to the “rich girls” who dressed in fancy clothes and lived in fancy houses. I always felt like they “looked down” on me because I didn’t wear Armani. But the very fact that I felt lowly in my discount brand jeans means that I was putting too much emphasis on “material resources.” Although God provided for my every need, I wanted more. Talk about being highminded! The Greek word for highminded is hypsēlophroneō. This word means exactly that: highminded, proud.

Nor trust in

The Greek word used for trust here is elpizo and it means “to hopefully trust in.” Not just trust, but hopefully trust in. I well remember the feeling I had when Texas instituted the lottery and I was old enough to buy a ticket. I couldn’t enter a convenience store without “hopefully” trusting that a lottery $1 ticket would yield me some riches — hey, I was a starving college kid! I think many of us have harbored hope for riches when we’ve faced tough times financially…perhaps an unknown rich uncle would die and leave us a million dollars…or maybe someday we’d invent the next big thing and would never have to worry about money again. Or maybe we store all our money away in the bank or 401Ks and give little, if any, away to charity because we’re saving up for retirement. We “hopefully trust” that the money in the bank or the next big thing that we’ve just gotta have will make us happy. I confess that I have what is called “new car fever.” I am seriously praying about this! We do not need a new car. It just seems that throughout our marriage, every time the warranty runs out on our car and it’s almost paid for, I get worried and start thinking about something new. What if the engine falls out? What if the transmission locks up? What if the air conditioning breaks down (a horrible thing in Texas, I assure you!) So what did I find myself doing this weekend? I sat at this computer and researched new cars! Thank goodness I didn’t get up and go test drive one!

The point is, when I get “new car fever,” or “new digital camera fever” or “new kitchen table fever,” what exactly am I doing? On whom — or on what — am I putting my hopeful trust? So I will praise God that my car works and trust HIM (not a warranty on a new car) to provide if a time comes when it needs repairs.

uncertain riches

Uncertain is translated from the Greek word adelotes, and it means just that — uncertainty. Riches in the world are very uncertain. Just look at the falling dollar! It wasn’t too long ago that the Mexican peso tumbled, and people were suddenly struggling to pay exhorbitant rates just for a loaf of bread. And now OPEC is, for the first time, thinking about NOT using the dollar to value oil. Remember Enron? Some people I love lost untold vast amounts of money that they had hopefully trusted would get them through retirement in the Enron scandal. Yes, “material possessions” are very uncertain.

but in the living God

A living God is a God who is zeo — Greek for living, breathing, not lifeless or dead, active, blessed, endless, powerful, efficient, fresh, strong, in full vigor. Friends, what a picture! Our God is not just alive and living…he is active, blessed, endless, efficient, powerful, and vigorous! And He acts on our behalf!

who giveth us richly

Parecho is Greek. King James’ translators said “giveth us” when they translated parecho. But they might have said that He reaches forth, offers, supplies, is the author of, causes us to have, causes to happen, affords from His own resources and power….plousios. There’s that word again that means “material resources.” Do you get that? Our powerful, vigorous God causes us to have and supplies our material resources! So whether you work for Wal-Mart or Blue Cross, McDonald’s or Dillard’s, the government or the schools — the material resources you earn come from our very powerful God!

all things to enjoy

Apolausis is Greek for enjoyment or enjoying the pleasures of.

Let’s recap the treasures found in just one verse of Scripture:

Tell those who live in this period of time and who abound in material resources to not be high-minded nor to hopefully trust in uncertain riches, but to trust instead in our very much alive, powerful, vigorous, efficient God who gives to us out of his own power and resources those material resources for our enjoyment. Everything we have came first out of God’s amazing provision!

Stay tuned…we’ll look at verse 18 next!

One thought on “Peeling the onion

  1. You are quite the orator!

    I am trying to post on I LIKE MIKE but I think I am on the coin one…???

    My daughter is with the Family Research Council and they brought all the conservative candidates to DC last month for a huge rally and she loved this guy and called us and told us all about him cause he was a no-name to me. So glad to hear this.

    I keep losing your link! Will tryi to get it up on mine if I can—my computers are down right now.

    Great post!

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