Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV).
No doubt, Paul is talking here about material wealth. He says as much just a few words into the verse, then throughout it. May I submit there’s more that makes us arrogant?
Politics make us arrogant. “Our hope” is a wide path to hell, if we let it be. Our differences of opinion put a wide gulf in-between us, so wide the perhaps only civil war can bring it together. Yet before we go to such a drastic end, let’s consider that our politics – left, right, and indecisive – stem from where we put our hope. If we put our hope in ourselves, we’re arrogant. Nothing can stop us because, well, us!
Knowledge makes us arrogant. This one is a stretch (from the verse) yet, if you think about it, is inherent to the verse. We can’t put our hope into something of which we know nothing. To put our hope in money means knowing what the accumulation of wealth can do. It’s the knowing, not the ‘thing,’ that makes us arrogant. The farther back you stretch it, the more you see that knowledge is at the heart of idolatry, of knowing (or think we are knowing) the difference between one thing and another. Or right and wrong. Take it to its academic extreme and knowledge breeds human arrogance.
The in-crowd makes us arrogant. Got the perfect house; got the perfect school for the kids; got the cool car; got the new clothes. The suburbanites have this in common with the urban hipsters: they’re part of the in-crowd who have “it,” whatever “it” is. If you don’t, well, God bless you but you just aren’t part of our party.
Ever met an arrogant preacher? You’re a sinner who hasn’t been educated at a seminary, given knowledge that members in your church haven’t received. Years ago, I belonged to churches where that was the case, where the pastors were arrogant and condescending. One used to say he was just the son of a pig farmer, and he then usually expounded on seminary talking points to drown out whoever was challenging him. Not very loving. My friend, if I ever come off to you that way, please bring me up short.
What’s the common denominator in all this? You know. It’s you. Or me. The man (or woman) in the mirror who forgets that wealth, politics, knowledge, status and religion are fleeting. They aren’t God, and there’s nothing any one of them – or us – can do to provide the JOY of the soul (in “enjoyment”) that God does. Everything else isn’t God; everything else is arrogant.
For further reading: Psalm 62:10, Jeremiah 49:4, Luke 12:20-21, Acts 14:17, 1 Timothy 6:13-21.
Beautiful God, only You are God. Bless You.