Summary: As we mature in our walk with the Lord, we learn that contentment depends not on material possessions but on the extent to which Christ as Lord possesses us.
WE GAIN GOD’S GIFT OF CONTENTMENT WHEN WE ATTAIN GOD’S GOAL OF GODLINESS
Football players know that: the object of the game is to win by outscoring the opponent within a specified time frame . . . to score is to gain yardage one segment at a time until the Big Goal is attained . . . playing the game by the rules demands discipline, hard work, effort.
Not that we should try to squeeze too much out of this sports analogy . . . but it helps to understand that the object of the Christian life, although NOT a game, is to win the victory over Satan, sin death. Until our Big Goal of an eternal Home in Heaven comes to fruition, we shall go on moving in that direction - one goal at a time.
One of those goals (first downs) . . .“gains” we must make on our way toward the Big Goal is godliness with contentment – I Timothy 6:3-21 . . .
Notice that immediately prior to the point he made about godliness with contentment, the apostle Paul called out false prophets who had infiltrated the church to pursue a selfish goal of personal financial gain – making it necessary for him to speak out about the fallacy of putting one’s hope for contentment in materialism.
Paul warns Christians that “mammon” (a materialistic objective) is a “false god” that, if allowed to become addictive, hinders worship of the true God - not that wealth in and of itself is bad, but that “the love of” it - carried to the extreme of making monetary gain the passion of one’s life, with no concern about spiritual matters - is simply foolish.
Perhaps Paul had in mind the lesson taught by Jesus when He asked that question: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his soul?” The lesson:
Make the BIG goal of your life that which is eternal not temporal. Later on, Jesus taught that any person with a materialistic mindset - for example, the rich young ruler who figured that his abundance of material possessions would serve in the future as his insurance against anxiety-producing insecurities - is in for a rude awakening.
Paul picked up on our Lord’s warning about placing one’s hope in material things with his own version of a rude awakening: “We brought nothing into this world, and we will carry nothing out of it”. Now hear this:
The love of money may provide temporary satisfaction BUT the love of God lasts forever! Genuine contentment, therefore, does not depend on possessions but on Him who possesses us!
The old warrior was not denouncing wealth or the wealthy . . . ambition or achievement . . . productivity or hard work for making a living.
Paul was concerned that Christians understand that life’s greatest gain is in the spiritual realm of being --- in a right relationship with God through Christ . . . driven by the hope that is ours in Christ . . . about our Father’s business of turning negatives into positives, laying up true treasures in heaven!
Christian service true treasure affords – not as a means of earning eternal life, but as evidence of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ our Savior and Lord whose love for us combined with our love for Him compels us to live for Him and to share our blessings with others.
There is no greater gain than to have God as Father, Christ as Lord, and the Holy Spirit as companion! There is no greater love than to love as Christ loved . . . minister as Christ ministered . . . serve as Christ served . . . give of oneself as Christ gave of Himself!
There is no greater good than to do good to others as stated by the Golden Rule . . . do good works such as provide food, clothing - and shelter . . . do a good job of communicating the gospel in and through all that we do!
To gain a right relationship with the Triune God . . . to love the sisters and brothers in Christ . . . to help supply material, social and spiritual needs for those identified as being in need - is to get rich not quick but slowly, as we go, one day at a time, one ministry at a time, one encouraging word at a time and so on until we become like Christ and therefore ready to meet Him face to face.
In case anyone is wondering why so much of what Jesus did, and that Paul dealt with, had to do with riches, wealth, money, the poor, the social system, let me make a point or two about the context in which these arguments occurred.