1 Timothy 6:6-16
“6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever.”
How much do you need to be happy, how much money, how much stuff, how much status? For many the answer to this question seems to be, “more than I currently have.” We are a carrot chasing culture, always craving and consuming but never content. We have bought into the belief that happiness is about having the right house or spouse. We live in a society that suffers from the sickness of “affluenza,” the all-consuming epidemic of chasing after what we don’t have while missing what we do. It is driven by the mindset that more will make us merry, yet in most cases we are actually suffering from the misery of more. Consumerism is not only contagious, it leads to the condition of overload, where we end up deep in debt, filled not with satisfaction but sadness and anxiety. We chase after things because we get caught up in the commercials that tell us we will be happy if we have …, so we let advertising influence our attitude. But how much stuff does it take to satisfy, is enough ever enough? Chasing after stuff and status robs the heart of happiness and leads not only to a miserable life but a meaningless one. Instead of serving the Savior we become slaves to stuff, we fill our lives with the temporary treasures, missing the real riches. The truth is that no matter how much we have we seem to always want more. The constant desire for more leads to the disease of dissatisfaction, and because we never stop to evaluate what we really need we often end up with more than we need. The curse of too much is everywhere; we think we need more food than we do so we overeat. We think we need more space than we do so we buy a bigger home which comes with a massive mortgage. We think we need more things than we do so we overspend. We think we need more money than we do so we overwork. We think we need more freedom than we do so we end up alone and the list go on and on. But contentment is not found in consuming, it’s an attitude of gratitude that creates contentment, you see gratitude is tied to your attitude not your bank account. There are millions of examples one could point to which prove that wealth doesn’t satisfy want, or quench your thirst for things. There are many movie stars that are miserable, they may have everything society says will satisfy yet there is still a hole deep down inside. An emptiness that can’t be filled through finance, a hunger they cannot be met through more. In stark contrast to our consumer culture that is filled with every comfort and convenience is the life of Paul that 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 describes as “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” Paul’s life was filled with difficulty and distress, challenges that could have consumed him and robbed him of joy. He could have become bitter over the beatings, or let the persecution poison his praise. How many of us would still be praising if we were in prison, or be grateful to God in the midst of the groaning? How did Paul maintain a spirit of service in the midst of suffering? He had learned an important secret to life, in Philippians 4:11-13 he said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength” Paul had learned the secret of not living life based on the conditions around him. Because his happiness was not based on his happenings, he could be content in prison as well as when he was free. He didn’t base his contentment on his circumstances but on his relationship with Christ. He knew he had all he needed in Christ, the one who gave him the strength to live. When we understand what we have in Christ we will have the corner on contentment. The Bible tells us that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Notice that it does not say “Prosperity with contentment is great gain.” Contentment comes from seeking the Savior not stuff, it’s about God not getting. Jesus told us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” Matthew 6:33. We often go about this backwards, but what if we sought God the way we seek gold? What if we ran after Him the way we do riches? It is our relationship with God that is the source of satisfaction, contentment is found in Christ not in our currency. Ecclesiastes 5:10 says “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness.” Without a proper perspective we will always fall prey to the prosperity trap, thinking that more will bring meaning and happiness. But contentment comes when you learn that this world will never satisfy your soul that true satisfaction can only be found in a living breathing relationship with God. Lasting satisfaction is only found in living for Jesus who said “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” Luke 6:21. We can live through the pain and grief when we stop expecting this world to satisfy and start looking to Jesus for joy. Those who do not know Christ will always be chasing yet never content. Are you trying to find your joy in the junk, are you searching for satisfaction in stuff? Then turn back to the true treasure, your relationship with Jesus and not the riches of this world. As the Psalmist says “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” Psalm 16:11.