“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (1 Tim. 6:6)
A Prosperity Gospel
Sometimes I hear people say that if we are godly, we’ll be blessed with material gain. While we may be blessed with some wealth, I don’t think it’s necessarily as a result of any righteousness on our part. If this were so, what about the disciples? They were humble fishermen and working class men who never received worldly riches. They left their nets behind when Christ called them to follow him.
On the other hand, we can also take a look at Solomon, one of the richest men of the Old Testament. He had everything, and in the end came to realize that all the riches in his life and its personal pleasures amounted to nothing but emptiness. He had squandered them for himself. He expressed the futile attempt to be satisfied apart from God is “vanity” and “chasing after the wind.” (Eccl. 1:14).
I believe Solomon might well have approved of a story that was once told of a king who suffered from a persistent illness and was told by some wise men that he would be cured if the shirt of a contented man was brought for him to wear. The problem was that there were no contented men to be found. Finally they went to the ends of the earth and found a man who was truly content. But he had no shirt!
The Apostle Paul seemed to have gotten it right. To the church at Philippi, he expresses a heart of contentment:
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” (Phil 4: 11-12).
In this text, we are reminded that to give our lives to gaining possessions reflects discontent and foolishness. It is to show that our sufficiency and security lies in things that won’t matter beyond the grave. In Job 1:21, Job says, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there.”
Giving Thanks for what We Do Have
Let’s remember that if we have food and clothing, that alone is reason for thanksgiving to God, and as his children, He promises to provide for our needs:
“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how god clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.” (Luke 12:27)
If God has given us anything beyond that, that is certainly additional reason to be thankful and to use it for His glory, whatever the amount.
Dear friends, have you got a good way to distinguish between your wants and your needs?
Why or how do you think that hoarding or greed can become an issue?