6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6: 6-10
Like most people, I’m not a huge fan of the dentist… I find much of the experience quite disconcerting – the weird chair that automatically lies back and somehow implies ‘this is going to hurt’. The dental nurse who has never said a single word in the past five years of my visits! The LCD TV (playing Planet Earth DVD’s of mating zebras!?) hanging directly overhead, causing me to unusually worry about health & safety!
However, aside from these few small worries, I find going to the dentist doesn’t help my godliness and I have a few reasons for it:
i. It earns the right for a bit of good old-fashioned self-righteousness… Having just passed the check-up without needing any work always makes one feel proud of one’s brushing ability!
ii. Walking out of the dentist having had a polish, always seems to add a swagger to one’s step… the kind of walk that declares, ‘yep everyone, I have shiny clean teeth’!
iii. Finally, my dentist has the best range of luxury lifestyle magazines on the market, waiting for me to play another round of ‘if I could afford it, I would buy…’
Although I leave the dentist with nice clean teeth, and the words ‘floss, floss, floss’ ringing in my ears. I also leave unhappily…
The 15 minute wait, spent reading luxury ‘you can’t have this’ magazines, I find myself choosing a new dream £2.5 million house from Cotswold Life, a new £2 million yacht from some yacht magazine, a new super car, a new sound system, and a new luxury watch… a desire for money to meet my luxury needs is bred, suddenly, I am completely dissatisfied with everything I have!
The reality is that most people in our culture live life this way, always wanting just a little bit more, never quite satisfied with what they have… ‘If only I had a bit more money, then I would be happy’, ‘if only I had a bigger house, then I would be content’… We so easily believe that the accumulation of possessions will satisfy us.
Even as believers we are not immune from this- We have so much, we are both inclined to forget the One who has given us what we have; and we are inclined to enjoy the things we have received from Him, more than we enjoy Him. Instead of loving God and using the world, we use God to get the world, which we love, more than God!
It is into this attitude that Paul helpfully reminds us that, ‘But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it’.
Paul gives us a great equation for true fulfillment and great gain:
godliness + contentment = great gain
Godliness is a God-centered life. It grows, not through the pursuit of a process, but through the presence of a person. Jesus Christ is the mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16)
Contentment is finding joy in what God has given to you. The opposite of contentment is greed. Contentment is a God given grace that grows over time. It does not come quickly, easily or naturally. Paul says ‘I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned to be content’ (Philippians 4:12).
Paul’s point is that Godliness is actually a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. In other words, Paul is saying, yes, the gospel does in fact bring great gain, but it’s not the kind of gain that the false teachers were teaching about. The false teachers health and wealth teaching will very often teach it as if it’s a radical truth; which in actual fact is not radical at all, it just panders to the desires and trends of the world and what it values!
Instead, it is the kind of gain that comes with contentment, because the gospel involves believers who have become disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, taking up their cross and following Him, dying daily to sin and to self; living for Christ, living for one another – I no longer live for my self, but for Christ!
Paul is saying that when the gospel takes hold of you, and you are able to believe in the mercy of God, you will be able to rest in His provision like you have never rested before, no matter how much or how little you have – you have Jesus!
- Thank God for His goodness towrds His children
- Ask God to help you be satisfied in Him alone