A Taste for Godliness
“There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment.” Read that again, slowly. (1 Timothy 6:6, click here for the full passage)
This sounds like advice for Christian self-improvement. Actually, Paul was warning Timothy about the dangers of using the outward appearance of godliness as a means of financial gain.
The sentence right before this refers to “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 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 we seek to diminish our love for earthly treasure and to replace it with the love of Godliness.
A few years ago 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, refined sugars and simple carbs. 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 appetite for that which does not contribute to love and service.
Sunday we will also read the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (click here to read it). By spending his life in pursuit of gain, the rich man so trained himself to see the world through that lens that he never even noticed poor Lazarus at his gate, passing by him daily. The choices we make today will, indeed shape what we become.
Where can you deliberately chose godliness and pray that God will not only satisfy, but change your desires?
This column appeared in the September 25, 2022 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.