As Christians strive to walk the path of godliness there are many areas of discussion and encouragement needed along the way; but sometimes areas that should be of great focus are set on the back burner. Such is often the case with one attachment to godliness that Paul discusses in First Timothy 6. He tells the young preacher, “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).
Christians strive for godliness, but oftentimes I am convinced we have forgotten contentment. The word thus translated comes from the Greek word autarkeia meaning “self-satisfaction, contentedness, sufficiency” (Strong). The word means being satisfied with yourself, who you are, and what you have accomplished. The association of godliness and contentment is truly an important one to the life of the Christian.
Certainly, it is not being advocated that the Christian should ever reach the point where they no longer desire to grow and develop as a servant of God; the focus here is on one’s place in this physical world. When a person becomes a Christian and adapts his life to the will of God, thereby forming godliness, that individual has reached the pinnacle of success on this earth. He has fully and completely formed his life around God’s commands and expectations, he has accepted the responsibilities placed upon him, and he is presenting himself worthy of the promised rewards for the faithful; there is nothing greater that can be accomplished by man on this earth.
Unfortunately, godliness is not often examined with such a long-term frame of focus in mind. Therefore, there are many Christians who do not see godliness as sufficient, but desire physical wealth and position as well. They focus their life’s efforts on their rank within their business, their salary, or their perceived importance. They constantly worry about the next step up the ladder, the next raise, the next purchase, the next want, and it consumes their efforts. This is not contentment, this is a mindset geared toward physical accomplishment and status. Consider what Paul said in the same context of chapter 6: “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:7-10).
Christians need to be cognizant of the dangers present with a lack of contentment. When being God’s servant and obeying his will are not enough for us, we are telling God that his grace is not sufficient for us (2 Cor. 9:12-13), that his care and comfort do not compensate sufficiently (Mat. 6:30-33; Psa. 37:25), that he is not enough. Is it then any wonder that many members of the Lord’s church are always “too busy” to do the Lord’s work? It is not because they cannot, but because godliness is not sufficient in their lives.
Are we content being God’s people? Are we content in the knowledge that we are serving God acceptably and he is pleased with our service? Are we content knowing that he loves us and will take care of us? Can we honestly state as Paul did, “for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phi. 4:11)?
Contentedness is not something that is naturally retained; it is an attitude that is consciously enacted in our lives and actions. It is easy to allow the physical desires of the world to take away contentment and replace it with ambition, pride, and lust; but the Christian must remember that he who has godliness with contentment has the greatest acquisition on earth.