Paul urged Timothy to stay in Ephesus even though it appeared Timothy didn’t want to (see 1 Timothy 1:3-4). We believe the reason may have been because of problems the Ephesian church was facing. It seems the church was living in self-righteousness, trying to look good. When you are self-righteous, you often are deceived and you become greedy and ambitious; you may even start to hoard things.
At this time there was a famine in Macedonia and also in Jerusalem, resulting in extreme poverty. While Macedonia and Jerusalem were struggling, the economy in Ephesus was good; they had a lot of resources but they were clinging to them for themselves.
Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17-18: “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.”
Paul’s first word, charge, means to “command or give strict orders.” In some translations we read, “Command those who are rich in this present age to be generous.”
Why would Paul tell them to command people to be generous and to no longer cling to things for themselves? It sounds so legalistic and it is — it’s the Law. The Law shows us where we are off grace, where we are wrong. The command that Paul said Timothy should give to the Ephesians was not to get them to give an offering only, but to get them to see that something of grace was missing in their lives.