Cultivating Godly Contentment
1 TIMOTHY 6
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Sometime during the year 2020 a census will be taken in the United States of America to determine how many people are in the country. Ideally, the government will be able to determine how many are here as official residents based on legitimate citizenship. A simple question the present administration wants to ask is this: “Are you a U. S. Citizen? Yes ___ No ___.”
If a heavenly census were to be taken, a good question that might be asked would be this: “Are you content? Yes ___ No ___.”
Our text says that godliness with contentment is great gain. To be content means to be satisfied. “Christian, are you satisfied with life?”
Many Christians are not satisfied with their life.
Some are not satisfied because they are too young.
Some are not satisfied because they are too old.
Some are not satisfied because they do not have much money.
Some are not satisfied despite having the wealth of the world at their disposal.
Some are not satisfied because they are not married.
Some are not satisfied because they are married, but to the wrong person.
Some are not satisfied because they were not given a position, or job they wanted.
Some are not satisfied because the position they wanted is more than they bargained for due to the pressures of having greater responsibility, having to put in longer hours, or being more accountable than before.
Some are not satisfied because they have health issues.
Some are not satisfied because they are not popular. They feel slighted, and ignored, even when they try to be friendly.
There is no end to the reasons why individuals are discontent in life. It is a universal problem that is older than humanity, for we read in the Bible about an angel who was discontent. One day Lucifer, whose name means brightness, like the morning star, found his discontent spilling out in his thoughts. “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13, 14).
The inward thoughts of Lucifer led to his downward fall. An angel became the devil. The devil then sowed the seed of discontent in the heart of Eve who decided that living in Paradise, and having fellowship with the Creator was not enough. She wanted more.
That is the essence of so many sins: more. The prideful person can boast of having more than someone else, more money, more power, more collections, more ability. The person who is discontent is unhappy, because he, or she, wants something more.
When a person is discontent, they do not keep this emotion to themselves. No sin can be kept totally secret. Others may not be able to immediately identify a transgression churning in the soul, but sin always leaves a tell-tale sign, much like a snail leaves a trail of slime.
When a person is discontent, they tend to be impatient. Everything must happen in a New York Minute. If something does not happen on schedule, then frustration sets is. Frustration is that low level expression of anger, because one’s objectives are not being realized.
When a person is discontent, they tend to be snippy, and critical. Sometime a sharp remark is disguised with biting, or negative humor, but the root problem is discontentment with a situation.
When a person is discontent, they tend to be demanding. Everything must be done their way, or, it will be the highway for those who do not bend to their will and way.
When a person is discontent, they tend to be judgmental. Fault is found with everyone and everything. The day might be the brightest blue, but the sun is too hot. They day might have the perfect cloud formations, but there is not enough rain. It all grows very wearisome.
When Jesus comes into the life of a person, and they want to emulate Him, one characteristic of Christ that becomes very admirable is His contentment. Let the disciples complain and whine if they must, and they did, Jesus never complained.
One day a certain man came to Jesus and said unto him, “Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:57, 58). By stating this truth, there is no indication Jesus was whining, He was only making an observation to test the commitment of the man who said he wanted to follow Him.
Following his conversion to Christ, Saul of Tarsus embraced this characteristic of Jesus to be content. With self-awareness, Paul came to a point in his life where he was able to write about this subject.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:11-13).
Because of the Fall, because of sin, because of a godless society, Christians must learn afresh how to be content. Paul said, “I have learned…to be content.”
Therefore, let us consider the basis for Christian contentment.
First, contentment comes by having peace with God through the sacrifice of Christ. When a person has peace with God they surrender. They totally surrender their heart, their emotions, will, their resources, and the essence of their life to Him to do with as He pleases.
Second, contentment comes by personally experiencing the joy of salvation. As a third-century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend: “It’s a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians—and I am one of them.”—Moody Bible Institute’s, Today In The Word, June, 1988, p. 18
Third, contentment comes by learning to submit to the sovereignty of God. If you need a good definition of God’s sovereignty, try this. “The right of God to do as He wishes (Ps. 50:1; Is. 40:15; 1 Tim. 6:15) with His creation. This implies that there is no external influence upon Him, and that He also has the ability to exercise His right according to His will.” –O Bible.org
Fourth, contentment comes by learning Bible doctrine. In particular, there is the doctrine of the assurance of everlasting life.
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.”
—Fanny J. Crosby
Fifth, contentment is learned through experiencing the joy of holiness. In his “Letters to an American Lady,” C. S. Lewis wrote, “How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing, it is irresistible.”
Sixth, contentment comes by faith. Faith not only knows, as a theological dogma, that God is working all things together for good, but patiently waits on God to perform that which is good. How do we learn faith? The song writer Andrae Crouch would say, “Through it all!”
“I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow,
there’s been times I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consulation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.
Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all,
through it all,
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.
I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I’d never had a problem,
I wouldn’t know God could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in God could do.”
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
Paul provides a practical reason why every Christian should learn godly contentment. The apostle notes that we brought nothing into this world, and we will carry nothing out of it. Even Hollywood has found this concept to be true. Director Frank Capra made a delightful romantic comedy in 1938 call You Can’t Take It with You. The movie stars Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore, James Stewart and Edward Arnold. Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, the film is about a man from a family of rich snobs who becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family. The family is not interested in money. but they are interested in enjoying life by doing things which is of interest to every individual.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
If the time comes when a believer can be satisfied with Jesus, with food, and clothing, then they can exhort other Christians and say, “Let us be therewith content.” However, remember it is contentment with godliness that of great gain.
Contentment in itself is not the objective. There are religions and philosophies of life that encourage people to be content, but godliness is not their goal. The goal is goodness. For example, in Hinduism there is the belief in karma, “what goes around comes around,” so be content. There is a belief in reincarnation, or rebirth. A person must keep being born again and again until they get it right, so be content. But godliness? Well, who knows who God is?
There is the religion of Buddhism, which teaches people to be content and end suffering by eliminating greed, hatred, and ignorance. Why? For the glory of God? No. When people do bad things they will get bad consequences. When people do good things, they will get good consequences. There is a cause and effect cycle of life and death until a person reaches the state of enlightenment, Nirvana, or, nothingness.
“To avoid all evil
To do good.
To purify one’s mind.
This is the teaching of all the Buddhas.”
—Dhammapāda, XIV, 5
The Christian message is that contentment rooted in godliness brings great gain.
There is great gain for the individual who can cease to be irritable, impatient, and demanding.
There is great gain for those who are the object of discontent can relax and be safe.
There is great gain for society when people are content. Some political parties do not want to have people be content. Communism thrives on fear. Socialism grows on social unrest and so one class of society is agitated to want what others have, without cost. In the year 2019, at least one godless socialist politician is promising people the following items to make voters discontent and then dependent.
Increased Social Security Benefits: $1.2 Trillion
Infrastructure Spending: $1 Trillion
College for Everyone Proposal: $750 Billion
Paid family and Medical Leave Fund: $319 Billion
Private Pension Funds Proposal: $29 Billion
Youth Jobs Initiative: $5.5 Billion
Total Cost to date: $18 Trillion
With more to free stuff to come!
The tradeoff for rejecting Biblical counsel and embracing a philosophy of discontent is loss of personal freedom, government control, and heavy taxation.
No wonder the Bible is hated so much, and Christians are despised. The wisdom of God is in direct conflict with the objectives of godless people.