Hope for your financial life and beyond

Why Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain (I Timothy 6:6)

“For godliness with contentment is great gain.” – I Timothy 6:6

Godliness with contentmentContentment 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.

In our minds, we think that 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. After all, it was 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.

Their disobedience 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. Let’s take a look at the issue Timothy was dealing with and what we can learn from it.

Godliness With Contentment Equals Gain

Timothy was a young pastor who was a protege of Paul. From what we know, it would seem that some men in Timothy’s church were distorting the truth about faith in Jesus. 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. In other words, the closer you become to God, the richer you will become in life. 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, in the grand scheme of things, 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?

In the end, it all rests in our desire. Our 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.

Related Content: More Money More Problems: The 10 Challenges of the Wealthy

The Potential Outcomes of Wealth Pursuit

In the verses above, we read the following potential outcomes to those who pursue wealth apart from contentment:

There are temptations that come with wealth.

Various lusts can swallow men up who have wealth.

There are angles to evil that open up when we love wealth.

Wealth can disconnect us from our faith when we are greedy for it.

Sorrows develop that will break our heart should we desire only wealth.

Wealth opens up 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 budget for and college to fund. We live longer after our career is over and must support ourselves during that time.

Related Content: The Ultimate Guide on How to Make the Best Monthly Budget

There obviously exists a need to create more wealth to fund these issues – most of which are necessities for us.

Can I Have More Wealth Then?

So does being content mean I can never have more money? I’d have to say “No” – it doesn’t.

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 that draw my attention day in and day out. Most importantly among those is living a godly life. Additionally, I desire to love my wife and kids, impact the students I teach every day, encourage others and be 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. Riches are not at the forefront of my thinking every day. Now, if riches still come to me based on what I’m doing in my personal financial life or by some other means, I’ll take them. If they help improve my circumstances, great!

But the desire for riches in and of itself for my own personal gain is not what drives me each and every day.

If you can reach the point where riches are not at the forefront of your thinking, then you’ve found contentment as it relates to money. And you will end up having great gain in so many other ways that will ultimately be more valuable than all the riches in the world.

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: Is wealth important to you? Do you think it’s possible to practice godliness with contentment? Why do you think we struggle so much with the issue of contentment? How have you seen riches negatively impact a person you know?

Original image by Bureau of Land Management at Flickr Creative Commons

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  1. God blesses us in order for us to bless others…money, health, strength, time. However, we do not ‘give to get’ we give to please God. We find contentment in His provision as we do our best to use our work ethic and discernment in all of life.

  2. Thanks for your insight. I was just wondering, you are not seeking to be Rich, but if you look at world standards, you would be Rich. I have no problem with someone being rich, or richer than others. The key is the character of heart. I noticed in your bio, you said you are teacher and you have rental Properties to manage, and your wife is a CPA. Your net worth I assume in around $500,000 to $1 million, if you average in the Properties you own… you are not poor… So being fruitful, wise in economics and building wealth you are not against?

    • No, I am not against it. As I shared in the last several paragraphs, there is nothing wrong with gaining more wealth as long as it is not your #1 priority. Wealth doesn’t drive me or define who I am. My responsibility is to be a good steward of what I have been given. And when done wisely and with purpose, then yes, my wealth will increase.

  3. “You and I face more than that in our lives today.” I appreciate that line.
    Some of my biggest hurdles to overcome, in terms of a right view of personal finances, have stemmed from “Biblical truths” that have been twisted. For instance, the notion that money is a root of evil instead of the love of money being that root. I used to think I was being lofty by not taking the time or effort that are actually needed to manage personal finances well.
    This post provides many great nuggets. Thank you.

    • Thanks Prudence. I guess it’s kind of relative…we face more today than Paul did in relation to the money we need to produce to fund our life. But he faced challenges I can’t even imagine in his efforts to spread the gospel. I’m not sure I would have wanted that assignment.

  4. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    In this century, contentment is viewed as somewhat negative as people strive to gain more. Contentment wouldn’t bring them anywhere and anything. Wealth is important to me, but this is not the center of my interest. Doing so would change how I view life or my perspective. That being said, I often think of contentment when I become frustrated. 😀

  5. I don’t strive for wealth in the traditional 21 century way. I want a good comfortable life for my family but i don’t strive for fancy new things and a massive bank account. I want to live my life to it’s fullest which will require money but i don’t need anymore beyond that. I have seen what greed can do and it’s not pretty. Who am I to judge though-not my place, i do however know it’s a situation I’d rather avoid. There are plenty of stories (in the bible) outlining that it’s often the wealthy and greedy who are, in the end, left out…so whats the point?!

    • “…to live my life to it’s fullest which will require money…” I feel much the same way Catherine. The definition of “to its fullest” will be different for each one of us so we will all need money at differing levels. But for me the attitude is the dividing line. When riches are the first thing we desire we have definitely crossed into greed and selfishness. (i.e. not content). Thanks for sharing!

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