Godliness and Contentment
“There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment.” (1 Timothy 6:6, click here for the full passage) Read that again, slowly.
This sounds very spiritual, the sort of advice one might receive from a guru in a cave up on a mountain somewhere. Actually, Paul was warning Timothy about the dangers of seeking financial gain and of using the outward appearance of godliness as a means of gain.
The sentence right before this speaks of “those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” (I Timothy 6:5) In other words, those who strive for an outward appearance of godliness (obeying all the religious rules) simply as a way to gain prestige, status, respect and, ultimately, money.
In case this isn’t completely clear, just a couple of verses later he writes the oft quoted line that “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (I Timothy 6:10)
“Godliness combined with contentment.” That is the road to the true riches. The riches that do not fade and rust, the riches that carry through the grave and into eternity.
The disciplines required to attain this goal are at least two. First, we must work to diminish our love of money and our desire for earthly gain. Second, we seek to build our love for the things of God simply for their own sake. The first goes hand in hand with the second as most effective way to lessen our love for earthly treasure is to replace it with the love of Godliness.
I have recently spent about 13 months on WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers). I found it very effective, but what I did not expect is that it actually changed what sorts of food I desire. WW pushed my diet toward lean proteins, vegetables and fruits, and while decreasing dairy, fat and simple carbs. Now that I am no longer seeking to lose weight, I actually want to continue eating this kind of food — my tastes and desires have changed.
My experience has been the same in other areas of life. To simply try to say to myself “you don’t actually want more money” doesn’t work very well but to work for the satisfactions that some with the more godly pursuits of love and service actually begins to change my tastes and desires over time.
Where can you deliberately chose godliness and pray that God will not only satisfy, but change your desires?
This column appeared in the September 29, 2019 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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