“Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8 NET).
Contentment. What most people want and so few actually have. Why aren’t we satisfied with what we have? If we have food and shelter, surely we should be satisfied! We might want to add in loved ones, as well. But do we really need anything beyond these necessities? – after all, we can’t take it with us when we die!
I would suspect that people are less content today than they were in the past, at least partially because we are bombarded almost constantly with a plethora of things that we need (although in reality we really don’t need them!). These turn into wants, and we end up not being satisfied unless we can have the latest smart phone, the latest games, the latest films, or whatever it is that interests us.
The problem with wanting more is that it takes more money to be able to afford these things. So what do we do? Often better paying jobs are not an option, but we still want! So we begin to use credit cards to purchase what we can’t afford. Paul, writing to Timothy, got it so right (and this was before they even had credit cards!): “Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).
What is the answer? We need to learn what is really important. “But you, as a person dedicated to God, keep away from all that. Instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). It really doesn’t matter if we have the latest gadgets or the latest fashions. It isn’t the physical that counts, but those things which are spiritual. We need to pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, gentleness – in other words, the fruit of the Spirit. It is these things that will not only give us a better life now, but will insure that we have eternal life with Jesus.
And if we happen to end up with the riches, too? Still set our sights on the spiritual. “Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or to set their hope on riches, which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. Tell them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous givers, sharing with others. In this way they will save up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the future and so lay hold of what is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Let us truly learn contentment. Let us trust in Jesus to give us those things that we need for this life. Anything else is a bonus.
Readings for next week:
19 January – Titus 1-3
20 January – Philemon
21 January – Matthew 1
22 January – Matthew 2-3
23 January – Matthew 4