Hidden Nuggets Series #80 – “For godliness with contentment is great gain.” – I Timothy 6:6
Contentment is a virtue that challenges our do-more, get-more, be-more society. This is especially true as it relates to money and possessions. By and large, we are constantly striving to get more money and secure better possessions to “enhance” our lifestyle.
There is always a greener pasture than the one we are in right now.
This issue isn’t new to 21st century earth. Since the beginning of time mankind has been dealing with issues of contentment. Wasn’t it Adam and Eve who were not content with what God had given them in the Garden of Eden? They coveted the only thing God said they couldn’t have.
That sin of eating the forbidden fruit cost them their perfect world.
Interestingly enough, the church hasn’t found itself immune to the issue either. That’s why in the New Testament of the Bible, Paul had to counsel the young pastor Timothy about the issue of contentment.
The Perfect Equation: Godliness With Contentment = Gain
It would seem that in Timothy’s church, men were distorting the truth. Their teachings about godliness contradicted those things that Jesus had taught. In fact, according to I Timothy 6:5 they were actually saying this…
“…men of corrupt minds and destitute of truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”
Did you catch that? These men supposed the godlier you became the better off you were destined to be. They were not equating godliness with contentment but rather with an increase in wealth, possessions and status.
And honestly, you almost couldn’t blame them for thinking this way. The linking of godliness and wealth had been seen for years. Even in Jesus’ day the Jewish religious leaders were some of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and businessmen in the land. You didn’t get to their position without some form of wealth and influence.
It wasn’t correct teaching but it’s easy to see why the Jews believed it.
Paul told Timothy to withdraw from men like this and avoid their destructive teaching. He countered their belief with one of his own in the following verses by saying,
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (I Timothy 6:6-8)
Now that’s a different thought entirely.
Why is Contentment Important?
This concept of contentment may not seem like a big issue to you. I mean we are not hurting anyone by making more money and providing for our needs, right? Shouldn’t we be doing that?
What’s wrong with becoming wealthy?
It all rests in our desire. Remember the equation for great gain involves godliness. If you don’t practice godliness with contentment and only follow after riches here’s what the future may look like according to Paul:
“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (I Timothy 6:9-10)
Those are very haunting verses. Money (riches) leads to a whole host of problems for the wealthy.
There are temptations that come with wealth.
There are traps that come with wealth.
There are lusts that swallow men up who have wealth.
There are angles to evil that open up when we love wealth.
There are paths to follow that disconnect us from our faith when we are greedy for wealth.
There are sorrows that will break our heart should we desire only wealth.
Wealth opens ups access to many things that those without money do not have. It would appear that is not necessarily a good thing.
The risks seem to outweigh the rewards. In that respect there may be nothing much to gain.
Well Then Can I Ever Have More?
As always, it’s important to see the big picture. The issue really boils down to contentment, not riches. I’m sure you’ve known rich people who were very content and poor people who were not. It’s all about attitude really, not how much money you may or may not have.
Paul was a missionary and a single man. He didn’t need anything besides food and clothing. During his travels he usually stayed in people’s homes, slept on a boat or out in the open air. He had little need for money because the churches he helped start raised money to support his travels (although he did make money on the side from time to time as a tentmaker). He was even in prison sometimes so there’s another way to receive room and board.
You and I face more than that in our lives today.
Our society pretty much demands we have our own roof over our head. Our careers demand commutes and proper attire. We have families and kids to feed. There are bills to pay and college to fund. We live longer after our career is over and must support ourselves during that time.
So you can see the need to create more wealth to fund these issues – most of which are necessities for us – is clearly evident.
So what’s the balance? Does being content mean I can never have more?
I’d have to say “No”…it doesn’t mean that.
Remember the phrase “desire to be rich” Paul used in the verses above? This whole issue of contentment hinges on that phrase.
I have other desires – most importantly among them living a godly life – that draw my attention day in and day out. I desire loving my wife and kids…impacting my church and the teens in my youth group…encouraging others through my writing…being a good friend.
It’s in pursuing those desires that I create the balance between contentment and riches.
Put those desires first in life and riches become a side issue, pushed onto the back burner. If it’s on the back burner it can’t be in the forefront of my thinking every day.
If riches would still come to me based on what I’m doing or by some other means, I’ll take them. If they help improve my circumstances, great!
But it’s not what drives me.
If you can reach that point then you’ve found contentment as it relates to money. And you will end up having great gain in so many other ways.
Questions: Do you think it’s possible to practice godliness with contentment? Is wealth important to you? Why do you think we struggle so much with the issue of contentment? When or where do you battle contentment the most? How have you seen riches negatively impact a person you know?
Prior Post: The Stock Market’s Dirty Little Secret