Contentment: a Means of Gain

1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.”

This verse has been on my mind a lot lately. Last year, during our first installment of Coffee Talk, I spoke at length about the pursuit of disciplining ourselves for the purpose of godliness via the various spiritual disciplines. Preparing to give that lesson taught me more than I have time to express here today. But, one point that stuck with me was that the purpose of godliness was not only for the here and now, but for eternity. “But godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Tim 4:8) Somehow whatever pains I go through to discipline myself now have good implications for the later, in Heaven with Jesus. I don’t know about you, but that gets my attention, captures my senses, and quite honestly, it motivates me all the more to do what is hard for me.

Now, let’s say you are making headway in the disciplines of the faith; e.g., you are learning the Word, you are praying more than ever, you are learning to apply the Word of God to your life, you are sharing your faith with others, and your faith is increasing and it shows! But…according to this verse the gain is little if we do not couple this godliness with contentment.

My contentment has really been put to the test in the last few weeks. So these words from the apostle Paul to young Timothy really resonate with me. I can pursue all the right things pertaining to godliness, but if I do not strive to be content, I would be robbing myself of my calling to be a testimony of my faith.

A good way to figure out where one needs to cultivate contentment is by paying attention to what one is lusting after. Do you wish, like me, for a Home and Gardens looking kitchen? Do you wish you had different gifts? Do you wish you were married? Do you wish for other people’s prosperity? Do you find yourself wishing for better health/husband/children?

While on a voyage through South America, doing everything from learning Spanish, visiting the jungle, and getting first crack at an unwritten language, Jim Elliot wrote this to his then girlfriend, Elisabeth, “Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.”¹ She very much desired to be with Elliot doing what they both felt strongly called to do, but it was not her time. Not yet anyways. Those words, however, helped her not only in that season but in the years to come…to “accept and thank God for what is given, not allowing the not-given to spoil it.”

I think that is just it. Contentment will flow out of a heart that nurtures gratefulness for what is given by God so that we can take a hold of the life that is ours and truly live it.

1 Let Me Be a Woman, by Elisabeth Elliot, pg. 33

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