Godliness with Contentment Is a Goal for which We Should All Strive!
O Lord, our blessed and saving God, we come before You to worship this day and must confess that all too often in our lives we have failed to fulfill Your will. You tell us to love, but we hate. You tell us to give, but we take. You want us to be content, and yet we find our hearts ignoring what we have and striving for what we do not possess. Forgive, Lord, and transform us through the power of Your Word. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Isaiah proclaimed the coming of Jesus who would bring salvation and every blessing to God’s holy and redeemed people. May we, who have come to know Jesus, ever rejoice in Him!
The Kingdom of Heaven grows, unseen at times, as the Gospel Word is planted, takes root, and then bears fruit. Is the Kingdom alive and growing in our hearts? May it ever be so!
Text: 1 Timothy 6:6-12
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
In Christ Jesus, Who urges us to confess our faith in our daily living, dear fellow redeemed:
I would imagine that each of you has suffered from them at one time or another. Perhaps you are suffering from them right now. They are troublesome, for they can cause new problems or make existing problems worse. Concerning what am I talking? I am talking about the "if only's!" You have heard of them, and, as I said, you have probably suffered from them. They go something like this, "If only I made more money, I would be content." "If only I could date that boy, my life would be complete." "If only my wife would listen to me, I would be a better husband." "If only I had that motorcycle, or that video game, or that article of clothing, I would be satisfied." They come in a thousand different varieties, but they all end up doing the very same thing--they chip away at our attempts at godliness, and they prevent us from ever achieving contentment.
My dear friends, without question Paul's comment is true--“Godliness with contentment is great gain!” Yet, so few people, even within the Christian community, are committed to true godliness and even fewer achieve genuine contentment. True godliness is an attitude of mind and a committed pattern of life. A person who is truly godly knows and loves Jesus Christ. That love guides and directs his attitudes, words, and actions. His goal is to be "Christ-like" in word and deed. Genuine contentment occurs when an individual is truly satisfied with the life and blessings he receives from God. He knows that God is the giver of every good gift (cf. Jam. 1:17) and will provide for all his needs, as he seeks to fulfill God's will and purpose in his life. My dear friends, GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT IS A GOAL FOR WHICH WE SHOULD ALL STRIVE! If, however, you have a case of the "if only's"…
Remember, first of all, that you can carry nothing out of this world!Paul writes, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” You have perhaps seen the bumper sticker, or one similar to it, that reads, "The one who dies with the most toys--wins!" We live in a consumer culture, which emphasizes the possession of materials things. Material wealth is often the way society measures the man or woman, and it is certainly a prime measurement of success. Yet, such an attitude belies reality. When we are born, as the saying goes, we are as naked as a jaybird. We have nothing. When we die, we leave everything behind, for we cannot take material possessions with us. Individuals in different cultures have tried to do so, but never with success. The mighty Pharaohs of ancient Egypt tried to take it with them, but people have robbed their graves for four thousand years. Consequently, to place such great emphasis on the mere accumulation of material things, especially at the expense of godliness and contentment, is absolutely foolish!
The Bible tells us, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:16). Jesus once asked, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mt. 16:26) The important question to ask ourselves is not, "How much wealth do I have, but rather have I been a good steward of the material wealth God has entrusted to me?" You see, any fool can accumulate wealth, but it takes a wise man under the Spirit's guidance to use that wealth properly and in accordance with God's will. If you are afflicted with the "if-only's" in this area--if-only I had more money I would contribute generously to God's work; if-only I had extra cash each month I would help the poor; if-only I would earn a six-figure salary I would be a good steward--take note and turn to God in repentance and with faith. God entrusts to each of us our material possessions, and He calls upon us to use whatever He gives to us wisely to support His kingdom's work, to care for our families, to pay our taxes, and to care for those less fortunate than ourselves. God expects good stewardship on the part of all, not just on the part of those making a large salary. He calls upon us all to be content with our daily provisions and to use those things He entrusts to us wisely!
Truly, GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT IS A GOAL FOR WHICH WE SHOULD ALL STRIVE! If, however, you have a case of the "if-only's," remember, secondly, that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil! Paul extends an important and timely warning in our text when he says, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Money can and does have a strange effect on people. In and of itself there is nothing wrong with money, for it is simply a medium of exchange. But our attitude towards money can easily become sinful, and Satan can and will use greed to undermine both our faith and our Christian life.
One of the most dangerous trends within our society right now is the huge increase in and the general acceptance of legalized gambling. Whereas previously gambling was for the most part illegal and recognized by society in general as something unwise and unscriptural, today it is sanctioned by the state and accepted, it would seem, by almost everyone. It has become a rite of passage for young people to spend their eighteenth birthday at Mystic Lake or one of the other casinos. My dear friends, this is not good--this is not godly! It encourages and fosters “the love of money,” which Paul says is “a root of all kinds of evil.” The Bible urges us to work hard and to be industrious, promising us that the Lord will bless our labors (cf. Eph. 6:5-8). The purpose of gambling is to secure wealth without work. The Bible urges us to seek the well-being of others as opposed to ourselves (cf. 1 Cor. 10:24). The point of gambling is to take someone else's money and secure it for ourselves. Is there evidence that gambling is leading to great evil in our day? There certainly is, for who among us who has not heard the stories of individuals losing their savings, their homes, or their families, because of their compulsive gambling? Sociologist now suggest that by 2020 gambling will replace alcohol as the single greatest problem facing Americans. What is feeding this craze? Is it not the "if-only's"? If only I could win the big jack-pot all my problems would be solved. If only I would get lucky and win the lottery, then I could pay off all my debts. There are even those gamblers who tell themselves, if only I would win I would give more to the Lord! “The love of money” hinders true godliness, for the almighty dollar replaces the Almighty God. “The love of money” destroys any chance of genuine contentment, for it crowds satisfaction and thankfulness right out of a person's heart. It has destroyed the lives and souls of countless individuals. Brethren, beware lest it harm you as well!
Yes, GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT IS A GOAL FOR WHICH WE SHOULD ALL STRIVE! If, however, you have a case of the "if-only's," remember, thirdly, to pursue godliness in your daily living! Combining a warning with an encouragement Paul now urges young Timothy, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” The goal of godliness in our daily lives is achieved when we as God's children decide in faith and under the guidance of God's Holy Spirit to pursue those things pleasing to God. Paul speaks of this close connection our sanctified will and the power of God, when he addresses the Philippians, “My beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (2:12-13).
In this area as well, the "if-only's" can reek havoc. It is so easy for Satan to lead us to think, "If only my husband would love me more, then I could do what God asks of me." "If only my wife would be more supportive, I could love her as I ought." "If only I could control my temper, then I would not say such hurtful things." "If only God would answer my prayers, I would serve Him with greater faithfulness" My dear friends, do not allow such thinking to undermine your pursuit of godliness in your daily living! It is important that we daily drown our sinful flesh and fill our lives with those fruits of the Spirit of which the Bible so frequently speaks. Pursue righteousness--that which is good and right in God's eyes. Think before you speak and judge whether the words you are about to speak for true, loving, and uplifting. Consider your actions before you undertake them. Will they be beneficial or detrimental? If you are uncertain seek counsel before you act. Read your Scriptures daily so that the Holy Spirit can increase and strengthen your faith. If you have a problem with impatience, pray that the Lord would grant you a kind and patience spirit, which is motivated above all by the love and patience God has shown you. Recognize that your goal in dealing with people is not to force them to comply with your wishes or to control them for your benefit. Rather, our goal should be to lead people to their Savior with the goal that their hearts and lives may be won by the Spirit and blessed with eternal salvation. That requires gentleness and persistence even in the face of opposition. A gentle and persistence spirit requires the wisdom and strength, which only God can provide!
Yes, GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT IS A GOAL FOR WHICH WE SHOULD ALL STRIVE! If, however, you have a case of the "if-only's," remember, finally, to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life! Paul concludes this section of his letter to Timothy, by urging Timothy to step back and see all of life--including also the goal of eternal life. He writes, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” If you are troubled by all sorts of doubts and fears when considering the challenges facing you in life, Paul's words offer you divine insight and advice. Recognize that Satan, who is called the father of lies, is trying to undermine your faith and strip you of the certainty God wants you to possess as you live your life for Him. Paul, consequently, calls each of us to action. We are to take up the “armor of God,” so aptly described by Paul in Ephesians 6--the “shield of faith,” the “helmet of salvation,” the “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Living a godly life will not be easy, but it is possible with God's help, and if we keep our eyes focused on the prize of eternal life. Paul reminds us that we are to “lay hold on (that is, take possession of) eternal life, to which you were also called!” God, our heavenly Father has called us effectively to be both His children and heirs. Eternal life is ours, and our confident possession of this prize can and should move us to and ever clearer and more comprehensive confession of our faith!
My dear friends, make no mistake about it--people are watching you as a confessing Christian. They will measure your words and actions to see whether or not you are being faithful to your calling. Your life will either inspire them to investigate the truths which serve as the foundation of your Christian faith, or to dismiss your faith as just another charade, which ultimately will not satisfy their needs. God calls us to battle the forces of Satan and to proclaim the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we emboldened by the Spirit and convinced of our own salvation by God's grace through faith join Timothy in making a good confession before many witnesses! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting