â€œBut godliness with contentment is great gain.â€ (1 Timothy 6:6)
by Dr. Henry Morris, Ph.D.
In this day of Madison Avenue sales pressures and an ever-increasing array of technological gadgets and creature comforts, the Christian virtue of contentment is a rare commodity. There is even a widespread error among born-again Christians that material prosperity is a token of spirituality and divine approval on an affluent lifestyle.
Instead of a blessing, however, such affluence (if it comes) should be regarded as a testing, for Jesus said: â€œUnto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much requiredâ€ (Luke 12:48).
Paul was perhaps the most faithful and fruitful Christian who ever lived, yet he died penniless in a Roman dungeon. His own testimony concerning material possessions and standards of living was this: â€œI have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer needâ€ (Philippians 4:11-12).
In the context of our key verse above, the apostle Paul has actually been warning young pastor Timothy against the influence of those who suppose, among other things, â€œthat gain is godliness,â€ and who think that their material prosperity is proof of their spiritual prosperity. â€œFrom suchâ€ says Paul, â€œwithdraw thyselfâ€ (1 Timothy 6:5). Material gain in no way either produces or denotes godliness; rather, godliness itself is the gain, if accompanied by contentment in Christ (otherwise, of course, it is not true godliness)! Even the most impoverished believer can acquire riches in heaven, where it really counts. In the meantime: â€œLet your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake theeâ€ (Hebrews 13:5). HMM