I wonder how often we’re prone to think of eternal life as a future “to do.” That it’s something that starts after death. That it’s something we’ll have to wait to experience. Something we’ll figure out how to do later. But if I’m picking up what Paul’s laying down this morning, I’m reminded that there’s actually a lot we can do here and now to not only prepare for, but to also enjoy now, the there and then.
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
(1Timothy 6:17-19 ESV)
As has so often been pointed out, for most of us living in this land, and particularly in this region, we would have to be considered “the rich in this present age.” Thus, this exhortation if for us.
And so, to me, Paul says, don’t be boasting about your riches and, don’t be betting your future on them, either. Instead, enjoy them. And know, in abundance, that aspect of joy that comes from giving away those riches.
Leverage your money to do good, says Paul. Be generous. Be ready to share the wealth . . . literally! Look for the opportunities to convert your material riches into good works riches. Because when you do, your taking the transient material goods of this age and storing up treasure for yourself for a future age.
What’s more–and here’s the thing that’s grabbed me this morning–in the act of doing that conversion, by being generous and willing to share now, you’re actually taking hold of that which is “truly life.”
That original word translated “truly life” in the ESV and NIV is translated a number of different ways in the other versions of the Bible. Life indeed (NASB). Life that is real (CSB). Eternal life (NKJV). But Young’s Literal Translation really hits home for me, “life age-enduring.”
Using our wealth, whatever it is, to invest in good works, to liberally give to, and readily share with others, is to seize upon life that is age enduring. To freely give what has been freely received is to experience a bit of heaven on earth. It’s to practice up for a future eternity as we lay “a good foundation” in our current reality.
Those of us who have been graced abundantly upon this earth can know an unearthly dynamic that comes from gracing others. And that’s truly life.
God so loved the world that He gave (Jn. 3:16). How much then can we enter into the experience of mirroring Him as His image bearers when we too give? Freely give. Generously give. Ready, willing, and through His abundant provision, able to give.
Take hold of true life, Paul says, the life that is age enduring.
And do it now! Get a two-fisted grip on it. Look for opportunities to convert the cash in your bank account into care for others, and then you’ll start to know what living for eternity feels like.
O’ that I would truly believe it! O’ that I might actually act upon it! O’ that I would practically experience it!
By His grace. For His glory.