Godliness With Contentment: Your Best Life Now / by Shane Anderson

"Godliness with contentment is great gain..." 1 Timothy 6:6

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul writes to Timothy about false teachers who had lots of problems, one of which was that they were using the things of God as a way to enrich themselves. Underneath all of their bad behavior and doctrine was a false belief: if I do the right stuff, I'll get what I want. I'll have the tithes and offerings of the church. I'll have the obedience and respect of people. I'll get to live in that big house and do the things I want and people will like me.

We see this pattern play out over and over in church history: those who promote false doctrine and practice do so with the aim of enriching themselves. They get power over people and approval from people. They get money. They get privileges others don't have. This reinforces their false doctrines by becoming visible evidence that their kind of "godliness is a way to enrich themselves" (1 Tim. 6:5). Against this mess, Paul reminds Timothy that the desire to have a better, enriched life is the doorway to great, devilish traps and temptations to false beliefs and practices that bring sorrows in this life and ultimately bring eternal destruction.

The desire to use the things of God for self-enrichment in this life is a flawed (misplaced and out-of-proportion) desire. An evidence of this is how it tempts toward compromise and traps in error, but Paul also reminds us that this desire is false because the present age lies under the curse of God: "we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world" (1 Timothy 6:7). God's terrible words to Adam "in the day you eat of it you shall surely die" have not been undone. We came from nothing, and we will die leaving everything behind. Having in Adam left life with God, we now lose everything we gain in this life. The judgement, death, fell on Adam and his posterity the day he ate of the fruit. Since that day, the world has been under the curse of death. We live only to die. We gain only to lose. We enjoy only toward future sorrows. (Read Ecclesiastes.)

What misery! Yet, what a great and real escape from this futility is made for us in Jesus Christ. Through faith in Jesus Christ, this life of meaninglessness is transformed into a life of spiritual blessings, daily provisions, and eternal joys. "Godliness (Christ-likeness) with contentment is great gain!" 1 Timothy 6:6

For every Christian, that declaration means something really simple but revolutionary: God's design for your life is conformity to Jesus Christ, and therefore, contentment with where He has you and a single-mindedness to Christ's glory in your life is itself the greatest thing a person can have in this life! There are many reasons this is true, but two are implied in this text: 1. the spiritual joys of the believer who is being made more and more like Christ are joys that will last after death. In fact the curse of death has lost its sting for us! The joys of the Holy Spirit we now have as we receive life, provisions, and spiritual strength from the Spirit of Christ will explode into the greatest delights, unimaginable joys as we enter the glories of Christ's heaven. 2. As God gives us simple provisions in this life, we who are dust receive every good gift from our Father. He shows in what He gives that he is more concerned for us to always be with Him than He is for us to be momentarily happy by giving in to our misplaced and disproportionate desires. He cares for us in our frail humanity, giving to us in earthly things far more than we deserve but measuring His temporal blessings so that we would not grow in pride and leave Him.

Dear Christian, you truly are exactly where God wants you to be, because he has designed both blessing and hardship, reward and discipline, joys and sorrows for the greater goal of your Christ-likeness, which in this life and the next receives his favor. You have exactly what you need right now. Your grumbling is a sin and a trap of sorrows. Instead of always wanting more or different, seek godliness first, for in a contented, grateful receiving from the Father's hand what he knows is best, there is great gain!