1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.”

When Paul wrote the above statement, he discussed people who used Christianity as a means of financial success. These were people who viewed godliness as a means of obtaining wealth. Why should they not reach that conclusion? In both the worlds of Judaism and idolatry, those who controlled the workings of temples were wealthy people. Obtaining wealth was not to be Timothy’s motivation in his ministry.

Paul recommended a different focus to Timothy: godliness combined with contentment. Both are complex subjects. One focuses on a correct view of God. The other focuses on our attitude toward our complete environment. Of the two, we American Christians likely find ‘contentment’ the more complex. That does not suggest we have ‘mastered’ godliness! Yet, rarely do we humans [at least in this society] find and experience contentment. When we think we find it, we likely are ‘discontent’ with our contentment. Everything that is ‘good’ with us could be better!

I laughed at myself this week. I fell in late August and dislocated my left shoulder. This week for the first time I slept one night without my left arm awakening me. Even the few times I slept all night, I was aware that my arm hurt. Had I slept all night two months ago without an awareness of my left arm hurting, I would have shouted, “Wonderful!” Last week I said to myself, “Wonder when it will happen two consecutive nights?” When (if) that happens [knowing me], I already know what I will say to myself: “Wonder when it will happen for a week?” If that occurs, I will say to myself, “Wonder when it will happen for a month?” At that milestone, I will say to myself, “Wonder when it will happen indefinitely?”

What should I say each step of the way? “Thank you, God!” [with genuine appreciation!] I seek to remind myself of something we all need to remember: “Instead of complaining about the bad things, be aware of and grateful for the good things.” In our society, it seems to be more ‘natural’ to keep tract of complaints than to be grateful for blessings!

To me, a powerful Christian example of the principle of contentment combined with godliness is found in Philippians 1. Paul, who unjustly was in prison, comforted Christians at Philippi by declaring how his imprisonment blessed the spread of knowledge about Jesus Christ. Wow! What awareness in horrible circumstances!

Are you a Christian? Pray to God and ask Him be your source of strength as He enables you to see His blessings in every situation and circumstance. Being a godly person is a complex commitment. Being content is a choice. Choose to see and acknowledge blessings even when your circumstances are a mess!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 23 March 2006

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