Paul said to Timothy, “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus,” (1 Timothy 1:3, ESV), but Timothy, who loved his mentor, said, “I’m coming with you.”
I don’t know why Timothy wanted to go with Paul. Perhaps it was because he just loved Paul or perhaps he was getting a little frustrated in Ephesus. It appears that those in the Ephesian church were focused on themselves, living a self-righteous lifestyle and trying to look good. When you become self-righteous, it often means that you are deceived and you become greedy and selfishly ambitious.
At this time there was a famine in Macedonia and also in Jerusalem and the churches there were experiencing extreme poverty. While they were struggling in Macedonia, apparently the economy was still good in Ephesus and they had a lot of resources that they were keeping to themselves.
Paul says to Timothy, “Charge [the Ephesians] 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” (1 Timothy 6:17-18, ESV).
In some translations this verse says, “Command those who are rich in this present age to be generous.” Why would Paul say something that sounds rather ludicrous? It seems unnatural to command people to be generous and to no longer cling to things just for themselves but to spread around this generous gift from God. Why would Paul command them to give?
When Paul told Timothy to “command” the Ephesians to give, it wasn’t to get them just to give but to get them to see that something of grace was missing in their lives.
The church in Macedonia had what the church in Ephesus was missing. True, the Macedonian church was poverty-stricken in the natural but was unbelievably generous, as they didn’t just give but they gave beyond their means (see 2 Corinthians 8:1-3). We read that the Macedonians were “begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:4, ESV).
The church of Macedonia obviously understood grace. They were walking in grace and Timothy wanted to see it for himself.