“….But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
1 Timothy 6: 6
1 Timothy 6: 3-6
Nature abhors a vacuum and will instinctively seek to fill it. We humans have that trait within us; when we have an absence of knowledge we try desperately to fill it. In this short passage Paul returns to the issue of false teachers and in this instance links it to the focus of the following text, the love of money. In the time of the early Church there were travelling prophets who were, along with others, allowed just to share their view or message in the Church. Outside of the Church there were travelling wise men (sophists) who would ‘sell’ philosophy, either teaching others to argue well or giving demonstrations of public speaking. Paul allocated characteristics to some of these men, they: promoted themselves in conceit; enjoyed speculation; disrupted the peace; and sought to make financial gain from religion (vs. 4-5). There was a thirst for knowledge, a vacuum and often the less scrupulous manipulated the situation to their advantage.
The countermeasure to such a situation was and is godliness with contentment, this is indeed great gain (vs. 6). The Greek word used to describe contentment in this passage was the same word the philosophers used; it literally means a type of self-sufficiency that is independent of circumstances. Godliness is the quality of being devoutly religious, pious. True contentment can only be found in God through faith in Christ. A child of God finds their sufficiency in Him regardless of their circumstances, their ‘godly’ character comes as they become more Christlike through their devotion to God. This relationship and position fills the vacuum with the knowledge of God and satisfies the yearning for wealth by providing the riches of Christ.
This short passage also provides us with tests to evaluate the truth of the ‘teaching’ and ‘doctrines’ we hear. Truth will be compatible with Christ’s teaching (the Gospel and New Testament), it will unite the Church and it will promote godliness (or Christlikeness). Falsehoods will do the opposite speaking against Christ, dividing the Church and promoting covertness and conceit. In our current context where control of circumstances has been lost to a good degree, theories and conspiracies abound and the desire for personal wealth and security grows what a wonderful antidote and solution there is in godliness with contentment; this is indeed true gain.
To Ponder: In Philippians 4: 6-8, 19 we read of how we receive this contentment and how God provides our needs. Can you connect your understanding with this passage and today’s reading and then apply the truth into a particular situation through prayer and action?
Pray: Lord, you have given us so many gifts in Jesus Christ your Son our Saviour. We thank you for watching over us and guiding us despite our circumstances. Thank you for your faithfulness and for promising never to leave us. May we know the gift of godliness with contentment in our lives and so help others to know the same in and through Jesus. Amen.
Praise: All I Once Held Dear
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