But godliness with contentment is great gain. – 1Tim. 6:6 NIV
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Timothy was a leader and a teacher in Ephesus and the Apostle Paul being a mentor to him had sent him several letters containing advices on many areas of Christian leadership to help him in his ministry. Today’s scripture is one of those several advices that Paul sent to Timothy. This section of Paul’s advice actually starts in verse 3 of chapter 6 of his first letter to Timothy with the Apostle Paul letting Timothy know that if anyone teaches false doctrines or does not agree with sound doctrine of our Lord Jesus Christ, then such a person is conceited and understands nothing. He warns that such a person no matter how much godliness he displays is one to be wary of because of his interest in negative things that will not discourage peace and unity adding that such people believe that godliness is a ticket to financial gain. In his statement which forms the foundation text for today’s scripture he stresses that any one who displays godliness should also have in addition the attitude of contentment because;
1. Nothing was brought into the world just as nothing will be taken out of it – 1Tim. 6:7.
2. Anyone who has food and clothing already has the basics of life and should be contented – 1Tim. 6:8.
3. Anyone desiring to be rich should be prepared to face several temptations, traps and many harmful desires that can bring ruin and destruction – 1Tim. 6:9.
Apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy remains valid today and it will be expected that every Christian who intends to avoid all those negatives listed in 1Tim. 6:4-5 with regards to his/her relationship with supposedly fellow Christians, need to take that advice seriously. The average Christian will quickly lay claim to godliness but the Apostle Paul says that if the virtue of contentment is not included with this godliness, it may all be a waste of time. So what does it mean to be contented. To be contented means to be happy and satisfied with one’s position and/or possessions. Contentment will not stop one from being ambitious but implies that one appreciates where one presently is and what one currently possess.
Apostle Paul advises Christians to be happy and satisfied once they are able to feed and are not naked. He believes that every other thing is not deserving of the desperation that human beings display to have them. Christians need to be contented with whatever they have and not be too materialistic. A materialistic Christian will never be contented and just as Paul said, will always have a feeling of loss. Most times the average person rates his/her life on achievements in the area of social/political standings, financial earnings, material acquisitions and prosperity in general and concludes he/she has fallen short of standard. This mostly is not because food and clothing is absent but because he/she uses a fellow human being as the benchmark to measure those achievements, sometimes unconsciously. What needs to be made clear to one who thinks in this manner is that
1. There is no standard that is set by God with regards to all these human achievements. All standards are either the imagination of the person or the one the society decided to set for itself without recourse to the God that allows for all these so called achievements.
2. All he/she Is focussing on is what someone has more than him/her and not what he/she has more than the person.
3. That the one being made a benchmark if also a discontented person like him/her also feels short of standard with regards to those same things as there are definitely people who have achieved better.
4. That no one in this world has everything and so there is always something to desire but that should not eliminate the feeling of contentment in man.
Christians should appreciate the glory of God in the lives of those people that have those things that they desire but should never feel like under-performers in any way. God it is that allocates those good things to people and just as it is for a purpose, he ensures that he allocates one form of good thing or the other to everyone. There is no one that lacks some good things that others wish they have and for which he/she should be contented and grateful to God for.
The attitude of discontentment is a very dangerous one that anyone who takes his/her Christian life seriously should avoid. One that is discontented
1. Will always be sad. This is simply because such a person only sees those things that he/she does not have and lack of those things will always trigger unhappiness.
2. Will always be ungrateful. No matter what is given to a discontented person or whatever such a person may have, he/she will remain an ingrate to God and man. Blindness to all the positives in such a person’s life will always give the feeling that God has been unfair to him/her in His distribution of all those goodies.
3. Will be prone to envy and murder. The constant desire for those goodies in other people will lead to all those comments that ridicule the achievements of those people. It is not until he uses a knife or gun on them before he commits murder as the tongue will do greater damage of leaving the person alive while already killed by the discontented person.
4. Will always be a loser. In the process of desiring and chasing after those things that is bringing discontentment, the tendency to lose what he/she already has is very high as they are not appreciated. Meanwhile what is being chased will not be attained hence the discontented person loses all.
5. Will lack peace off mind. This is because he/she will always be in pursuit of those things that are desperately desired and they never finish. The person is not discontented because he/she lacks a specific thing but because discontentment is part of him/her. There is always a new desire if at all the old desire is met.
The reality is that a discontented person, Christian or not is not someone to have close by as there is always the danger of being the victim of this negative attitude.
As a person you need to ask yourself if your problem is not discontentment. You need to confirm that the crisis in your life is not due to your act of ingratitude to God and man because of your lack of contentment. All your godliness will count for nothing as a Christian if you cannot be contented with all that God has done for you. You may have ambition to go higher in life which is not negative but what will help you to achieve that target in life will be gratitude which will start from being contented. May God grant us all the spirit of contentment in Jesus name. Amen.