Are you content? In today’s culture, contentment is sometimes looked down on and synonymous with laziness. The world tells us we shouldn’t be content. We should always want more and better. So what is contentment?
The words content and contentment come from the Greek words arkeo, which means “to be satisfied; to be strong,” and autarkeia, which means “to need no aid or support; sufficiency of the necessities of life.” This concept is a foreign one to Americans who are taught that success is in plenty, that more is better, and that if we sit back satisfied with what we have we are not living to our fullest potential. The American Dream is a dream of wealth and stuff to enjoy that wealth.
But 1 Timothy chapter 6 says if we have food and clothes, then should be content. It is discontent that often leads to numerous problems. People who are not satisfied with what they have are the people stirring up trouble in the church. Their haughtiness delights in dissension. Paul calls this kind of thinking and teaching depraved. Discord is not the teaching of Jesus Christ. His command is to love one another. We teach the gospel, our salvation through Jesus Christ. We teach the whole gospel, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and nothing more than the whole gospel.
Verses 3-6 read,
“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain”
People who are not content see the faith as a road to prosperity. That is a road of grave danger. Verses 9-10 read,
“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
Paul warns Timothy not to give in to seeking wealth, worldly success and worldly treasures but instead to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. (Verse 11). He compares this pursuit of godliness instead of wealth to a fight. It is an active battle to remain in pursuit of God’s Kingdom rather than our own desires. What are we fighting for? We are fighting for the gospel to remain pure. We are fighting for the faith of Jesus Christ. Paul puts it this way, in verses 12-14,
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
Putting faith in money means your faith is not in God. God is able to be trusted. Can you really trust money and possessions? They are temporary. You may be wealthy today and bankrupt tomorrow. Like other idols, money can only do what we make it do, and we are flawed. Stock Markets crash, Businesses fail. Identities get stolen. Banks get robbed. But God is faithful. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Jesus Christ our God is Sovereign, Eternal, and Good.
Paul says it beautifully in verses 17-19,
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”
[i] This is an encore of a devotional I wrote and published in Salt & Light: Daily Bible Reading to Encourage Love in Action