“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” – Vs 6
Godliness and contentment. The two go hand in hand. They are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. That seems to be Paul’s message to Timothy in this chapter. There were those in the church in Ephesus where Timothy was ministering who “supposed that godliness is a means of gain” (Vs 5). These individuals were “men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth.” They were pursuing godliness for what they could get out of it, and most likely it was financial gain they were seeking. They were “those who want to get rich” (Vs 9) and whose lives were characterized by a “love of money” (Vs 10). But Paul tells Timothy that they were missing something in their pursuit of godliness: CONTENTMENT.
They had their priorities out of whack. They were seeking from a life of godliness what it was never intended to deliver – financial gain. But Paul stresses that there really is great gain from a life of seeking God, but it is must be accompanied with contentment. It will involve faith, not financial gain. There will be a realization that the things of this world are of no value when put up against the value of having a relationship with God. This is a common theme for Paul and one he expresses quite well in his letter to the Philippian church:
“I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him.” – Philippians 3:7-8 (NLT)
Paul was willing to give up everything and anything in order to make knowing Christ his highest priority. He was content with having food and covering, if he could have Christ. For him, it was better to run from the love of money and the things of this world than to risk having his faith compromised and his priorities skewed. He tells Timothy to do the same thing:
“But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness” – Vs 11
He tells Timothy, and us to:
“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” – Vs 12
For Paul, this was serious business. Anything that distracts us from our pursuit of godliness – an intimate relationship of dependence on God – should be run away from like a dangerous predator. Anything that we seek other than God, in an effort to find contentment, should be seen as what it is – a dangerous diversion from the truth. And in our world today we are surrounded by all kinds of diversions. They distract and detour us off the path of godliness. They tempt us with offers of false contentment. They assure us that they can meet our needs and bring us fulfillment. These diversions take the form of financial gain, personal comfort, materialism, entertainment, power, prominence, and any other thing that we tend to fix our hope (Vs 17). Instead, we are to fix our hope on God, “who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (Vs 17).
Contentment. Do you have it? Are you enjoying it? It goes hand in hand with a life of godliness. They are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other. Is it enough for you to have God? Are you willing to let go of everything else, even run from it, in order to gain Christ? There is nothing inherently evil in money and things, but they can be dangerous to a serious-minded believer. They can become distractions and diversions that keep us from finding our contentment in a life of godliness. So, “flee from these things, you man (or woman) of God” (Vs 11).
Father, give me the strength to run away from the love of money and the temptation to find my contentment in anything other than You. Open my eyes so that I can see the truth behind the lies that surround me and bombard me daily. Don’t let me buy into their offers of satisfaction and fulfillment apart from You. Don’t let me become distracted by the things of this world. Help me pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness” and to find my walk with you accompanied by contentment. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men