ODJ: Income vs. Investment

January 5, 2017 

READ: 1 Timothy 6:6-19 

Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth (v.6).

“And what do you do, Susan?” I asked over dinner. “Oh, not much,” she said. Approaching the question differently, I asked Susan what she’d done that week. Her answer made me feel exhausted!

That week Susan had helped lead her church’s women’s ministry, touching several hundred lives. She’d spent two days helping a friend recover from surgery. She’d mentored two young women; cooked, cleaned, and cared for her family; and was now offering hospitality to me. I told Susan she was doing a lot with her life. “I don’t always feel so,” she replied, “because I’m not bringing in an income.”

In a culture like ours, it’s easy to value people by their paychecks: The higher the income, we think, the more significant they must be. But this can leave the low-paid, the unemployed, fulltime parents or volunteers, and people like Susan feeling devalued. Something is wrong with the popular way we measure a person’s significance.

The apostle Paul knew the importance of money (1 Timothy 5:18), but he placed it secondary to other forms of “wealth”— like godliness (6:6). He warned that money could destroy godliness (vv.7-9) and advised those with lots of money to use it in a godly way (vv.18-19). To Paul, money ranked lower than faith, love, and generosity (vv.11,18)—the very things Susan was evidencing in her life. She may not have been earning an income, but Susan was “rich in good works.”

What if we valued our lives another way: not by our incomes, but by our investments—by how much love, time, and assistance we gave to others? Those earning much would remember what wealth is for, while those earning little would rediscover God’s economy: that in His eyes, helping a friend after surgery or looking after one’s family is the work of millionaires.

—Sheridan Voysey

365-day plan: Genesis 7:1-24

Read Matthew 6:19-20 and consider how God views real treasure. 
Are you prone to value yourself or others primarily by income? How will you be “rich in good works” today?