Why is Godliness with Contentment Great Gain?

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

Godliness is a God-centered life. It grows, not through the pursuit of a process, but through the presence of a person. Jesus Christ is the mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16).

His presence in your life is your hope of becoming the person God calls you to be. Christ in you [is] the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

Contentment is finding joy in what God has given to you. The opposite of contentment is greed which destroys your capacity to enjoy what God has given.

Contentment is a Christian grace that grows over time. It does not come quickly, easily or naturally. Paul says “I have learned to be content” (Philippians 4:12).

How did he learn it? He tells us “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content” (Philippians 4:12). He is saying: “There were times when I had plenty. But then God brought me to situations where I was ‘in need.’ And through that I learned something: I discovered the secret of being content.”

God used the experience of loss to produce the good fruit of contentment in Paul’s life. Have you discovered the secret of being content?

Jeremiah Burroughs described contentment as “a rare jewel.” How can you find joy in what God gives you, especially when it is less than you had before? Burroughs has great wisdom on how to obtain this jewel:

“A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition as by way of subtraction… Contentment does not come by adding to what you have, but by subtracting from what you desire. The world says that you will find contentment when your possessions rise to meet the level of your desires… The Christian has another way to contentment, that is, he can bring his desires down to his possessions.”

Great gain
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6

Not just gain, but “great gain.” Paul says “If you have godliness with contentment, it will be of huge advantage to you.” Why is this? It has to do with the consequences of not being content.

Why is godliness with contentment great gain?

1. You cannot keep what you gain

“…people who want to get rich” (v9)

If getting rich is your goal, you cannot keep what you gain. “We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (v7). You may get rich, but you cannot stay rich. You cannot keep what you gain in this world.

2. You will encounter powerful temptations

“People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction… the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (v9,10)

If you set your heart on money, you expose yourself to powerful temptations that ruin many people.

3. You may wander from the faith

“Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith” (v10)

In the parable of the sower, our Lord speaks about “seed that is choked by thorns and thistles.” The seed is God’s Word. The thorns and thistles are “the worries of this life, and the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:19). Money chokes the fruit of God’s Word in the lives of some people.

4. You will experience great sorrow

“Some people, eager for money, have… pierced themselves with many griefs” (v10)

Money is a great servant but a terrible master. If you set your heart on money, money will break your heart. You will not keep what you gain. You will fall into powerful temptations. You may wander from the faith. You will pierce yourself with many griefs and sorrows.

That’s why godliness with contentment is great gain. When you have less, learn the art of contentment. This rare jewel is not found when you have more, but when you have less.

Bring your desires down to the level of your possessions. Learn to enjoy what God has given more than you grieve what He has taken away. Practice the art of godly contentment and you will find that it is great gain.

From the sermon Gospel Lifestyle in the series 10 Distinctives of a Gospel-Centered Church.

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Colin Smith (@PastorColinS) is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition.

Date Posted: June 10th, 2013

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