1 Timothy 6:6-10
True Godliness Births Contentment
The false teachers were causing dissension by quarreling over words for the sake of appearing knowledgeable. But there was another matter these false brethren were concerned for and Paul speaks of it here: Money and financial gain. Exactly how they were to gain this, the Apostle doesn’t say, only that they thought that godliness was a means of achieving wealth. At first glance, this seems so laughable, but then we remember that we have those in our own day who are happy to preach health and wealth for the sake of gaining it from desperate people. These too think godliness is a means of gain. But none of these even know what gain is, much less godliness.
So Paul tells us what gain is: Godliness with contentment. And I would add that godliness births contentment. I am at my most discontent when I am out of fellowship with God because of sin in my life. On the other hand, I am most content when I am walking close with the Lord. This then leads quite naturally to a discussion of money and the things of this world.
I see three principles here: 1) “We brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” This tells me that I should focus on the next world, for only there will anything gained be eternal, because the things gained there are of eternal value, like souls, virtues, and holiness. 2) “If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Really? Did Paul say that? Ouch! This kind of makes the “I can have as much as I want as long as I use it all to God’s glory” argument sound hollow. Granted, Paul was a single man constantly on the move; I have a family and require a house. Fine. But how much house do I need? How much in my retirement account? And what is “living comfortably?” These are matters of conscience believers must deal with on their own—but please don’t fool yourself into thinking that if you have a million dollars and give ten percent that you are a generous person. And 3) “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” People are quick to say that it is the LOVE of money, not money itself, that is the root of all kinds of evil. Yes, but then again I think few people know themselves well enough to know whether money or their love of it is their real problem. And yes, a pauper can be just as greedy as a billionaire.
Paul’s point is that true godliness relies on money and possessions not at all. Then again, godliness relies not on poverty, either. Godliness is living in fellowship with God and trusting in Him no matter what the circumstances, and therein births contentment.