Are we CONTENT with just FOOD and CLOTHING? "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." (1 Tim 6:6-8)
Apostle Paul’s first letter contains both direction and encouragement to his spiritual son Timothy. In the above passage, Paul speaks of two important elements: godliness and contentment. Godliness is our desire to see God’s character reproduced in us, while contentment is our acceptance of God’s will in our lives. The absence of godliness and contentment will bring great loss, especially in the Christian life. Godliness without contentment would be a joyless and legalistic righteousness, and would give a one-sided testimony. On the other hand, contentment without godliness describes a person sadly disconnected from God’s truth, and would not be distinctively Christian at all. But to have real godliness and at the same time to be satisfied with one’s personal circumstances is more than money can buy!
Christian believers should be content because their needs are met by Christ (2 Cor. 12:9, 10). In the case of a marriage relationship, the believer should be content with the soul-mate whom God has joined to him/her. Too many marriages are in jeopardy because this principle is violated, and many couples are straining by putting enormous pressure on their marriage. However, contentment coupled with godliness will bring harmony in a marital relationship!
We should remember that we have brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. Before Alexander the Great died, he said: “When I am dead, carry me forth on my bier, with my hands not wrapped in cloth, but laid outside, so that all may see that they are empty”. We enter this world at birth possessing nothing and we will exit this world taking nothing with us. Since material wealth is relatively insignificant, we should pursue other important things like righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness! (v. 11)
Thus, contentment consists of satisfaction with the basic necessities of life. This happens when we have a firm understanding of the passing nature of life. We should seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and God will see that we do not lack the essentials of life (Matt. 6:33). True godliness brings contentment with the material blessings that God has provided when we keep our values in right order!
Let’s ask ourselves: are we content with just food and clothing? Augustine has once said that we do not realize how much we are attached to the good things until they are taken from us. Let us not love self, money or any other thing that this world has to offer us (1 John 2:15), instead, let us keep our eyes above on God alone (Col. 3:1-2).
Let us remember that real gain comes from the acquisition of godliness that includes an attitude of contentment with our material possessions. Having the basic necessities of life, food, and clothing, we can and should be content with what we have: Jesus (see Heb. 13:5–6). Paul had learned this lesson of healthy detachment from material things in his own life, and we must learn it too.