One of the Bible classes at church was studying chapter six of 1 Timothy recently. There’s an interesting concept addressed in verse 5. It says that some men “think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Some people think religion is the pathway to riches. Jesus said there would always be charlatans. When a TV preacher buys a multimillion-dollar estate or a corporate jet or expensive cars, it makes you wonder if he or she is trying to use religion for personal gain.
But Paul said that it is contentment, coupled with a heart for God, that is great gain. Money is nice to have, but it does not lead to happiness. In the same way that you can’t buy good health, neither is contentment for sale. It is beyond the purchase-power of money. Yet, contentment is far more valuable than all the houses or planes or cars one could ever own.
The Apostle Paul also wrote that contentment is something that is learned. It isn’t our natural response. Our natural bent is to want what we want NOW. How many moms have cringed as their young child has screamed for the candy displayed next to checkout lines? My contentment must be learned in every area of life, not just my finances.
I must learn to be content whether my health is optimal or not. I must learn to be content whether my sports team wins or not. I must learn to be content when a loved one doesn’t take my advice. I must learn to be content at school or work with my performance and recognition. I must learn to be content with the income I have. Sounds easy, but it is so hard when things don’t go the way I hope.
Contentment doesn’t mean that you never grieve a loss. Nor does it mean that you don’t have constant concern for a loved one. It DOES mean that we have a deep sense of trust that God is at work in the midst of our grief or in the life of our loved one. Instead of worry or frenzy, there is a restfulness of soul. I admit that I’m still learning to be content. It is much easier when my circumstances go as expected. It all comes down to trusting that God is good and that He filters everything that comes into my life.
The Scripture warns us that a person who thinks money is the guarantee of happiness will never be content. It says, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (1 Timothy 6:7) We enter this world with nothing, and we’ll exit the same way. Money has no value on the other side of death.
There is nothing inherently wrong with ambition or making lots of money and having nice things. It is the “love of money” that is behind all sorts of evil. It’s not wrong to be wealthy. There are many Christ-followers who are very wealthy people. They are some of the most generous people because they understand they are only stewards of God’s money, not the owners.
Are you facing situations right now in which you are learning contentment? Do you need peace to reign over your soul? God wants you to draw near to Him, and to let Him help you face your circumstances. The road you and I travel may be filled with ruts and potholes, but the destination of contentment is worth the trip.