But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get richfall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. – 1 Timothy 6:6-11
Paul wrote two letters to Timothy, one of his protégées, who he instructed to remain in the Ephesian church as what we might call a resident pastor these days.
The Ephesian church was going through a rough patch as this time as there were people propagating false teachings, causing lots of issues and divisions in the church. Paul gave certain instructions to Timothy regarding many areas including church services, selecting church leaders, responsibilities towards believers and responding to false doctrines. One of the teachings Paul countered strongly was that Christianity brings prosperity.
Obviously, this teaching has not gone away as it is still debated in the church today. Paul instead taught that godliness with contentment is great gain, and this means a lot. Let’s try to unpack the statement and draw our lessons.
1. Christianity does not Guarantee Financial or Material Prosperity
First, the argument that choosing Christianity makes you wealthy is wrong on so many levels. Jesus never mentioned it! Whenever Jesus spoke about money, he shifted the focus from it.
- He taught contentment, that the life of a man it not measured by the abundance of his possessions (Luke 12:15).
- He even radically taught that it is difficult for rich men to make heaven (Matthew 19:21-26).
- He taught us to store up heavenly wealth since the material or earthly ones will perish (Matthew 6:19-20).
- Never did any of the apostles emphasise wealth as a benefit of salvation!
When you downgrade it to that, it is horribly wrong! Logically speaking, most, if not all the richest men in the world today are not Christians. If they got wealthy without Jesus, why do you think Jesus died just so you can be wealthy?
2. Contentment is a Display of Faith and Trust in God
Paul explains that the true wealth we gain as Christians is godliness that produces a contented heart. Just as a lack of prayer to God is a definite show of pride, a lack of contentment is a show of distrust in God’s ability to cater for our needs.
When we are discontented with what God has given us, we show that we do not trust God enough to know what we need, we think there’s more and God is missing something. We are therefore doubting God’s omniscience as well as His love for us.
Remember the Bible says God will supply all our needs… not all our wants! If we are to be honest with ourselves, we know we do not need “all the world” to do what God has primarily asked us to do! Jesus commissioned 72 people to go all out with nothing (Luke 10) and they had excellent results!
Paul explains that we came into this world with nothing, and it is up to God to give us what we need to do what He’s asked us to do. Besides, if we gather all the wealth in the world, when our time here is done, we will leave it all behind! So, rather than focus on what would not last, desire godliness with contentment.
Jesus did not die to give you a reward that perishes, even though you might become rich for God’s purpose here on earth which will most definitely include financing the gospel!
3. Riches can Sometimes be Bad
Remember the statement Jesus made about how difficult it is for the rich to enter heaven?
The Jews regarded wealth as an evidence of God’s approval and hence thought the wealthy were the most likely to make heaven. But Jesus made this statement to correct that (Matthew 19:21-26), not because wealth is a sin, but because the rich often have the tendency to cling to their wealth so much so that it becomes their master.
Wealth could be an issue also because many fall into temptations and are caught in the trap of foolish and harmful desires which pull them down to ruin and destruction.
Many have lost their way because of their dependence on wealth and money rather than on God. Paul teaches contentment (Philippians 4:11)! We cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24)! If our worldly riches become more important to us than Jesus, we must abandon them! Quite radical, but we really must!
4. God can Make You Rich!
So, Paul is not saying that God lacks the capacity to make a Christian the wealthiest man on earth. If your assignment on earth requires you to become the wealthiest man on earth, you can rest assured that God will make you top Forbes’ list! All Paul is saying is that we ought not to forget ourselves in pursuit of riches, as we are not saved to become materially rich!
God will supply what we need and what we need is always enough! Most times, we get so carried away with our aim to be prosperous that we entirely forget the balance. Prosperity becomes all we think, talk and even pray about. Money becomes our master – and sadly so because the world today regards wealth and possessions as the benchmark for success.
In conclusion, God wants us to be successful in our endeavours but not to the point where we forget what truly matters – his work and our relationship with Him. The phrase “godliness with contentment is great gain” is simply a way of saying Christianity should not be pursued because of the materialistic benefits we stand to gain.
Paul admonishes you to seek after righteousness – to always remember the sacrifice of Jesus for us and let it be the reason for all we do, with joy and gratitude; godliness – to seek to know God’s will and act in line to please Him; faith – to completely trust in God’s ability to always be there for you and meet your needs because you can never lack in Him; love – to love God and people and let His love be your motive every day; endurance – to follow the good old hard way to success, knowing that patience is a fruit of the Spirit and can be manifested by believers; and gentleness – to be gentle, kind and loving to all around you, striving for peace with all.
We always win, God is on our side! Kindly leave a comment, feel free to share your opinion and ask questions.