Godliness with contentment
I Timothy 6:1-10
There were about 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire. Simply because of their numbers they were always regarded as potential enemies, and they were put down with merciless power. However, the slaves in the churches who heard Paul's message lived in a time, when conditions were improving. Nevertheless, the desire to be free of slavery was always present. Paul contrasted Christian slaves who had believing masters with those (in Vs 1) who had unbelieving masters. Paul preaches corrective instructions, to these slaves in both conditions. He emphasized that, the fact that they have Jesus as Lord (Col 3:22-25) compels them, all the more, to be models of obedience and serve ‘even better’. (Vs 2) This to Paul is a Godly (pleasing to the Lord) behavior.
After a brief diversion to deal with the servant master relationship. Paul exposed further the shortcomings of the false teachers. Paul mentions three unhealthy traits of these false teachers 1. being “conceited”, 2. the unhealthy desire for controversies and quarrels and 3. their greed and love for money (Vs 3-5). And it results in verses 6-10. Paul highlights that godliness, and not wealth brings great gain.
Beneath the surface of this passage there are certainly important Christian principles for us, in everyday life and work. How do you respond
If you are working, then there is a person or persons who is/are an authority over you - who has/have some sort of control and responsibility over your time and work and manner of life. You, like the slaves, are in a relationship where you have the opportunity of showing respect or otherwise to the “authority”. Our actions and attitude will result in either praise or slander toward God and the Gospel. How do we as believers conduct ourselves at the workplace? What sort of response am I generating, leading people to God through my best (godly) behavior and work or leading them away from God being a bad testimony?
The Bible repeatedly warns us about false teachers for the church's protection. Envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions are the fruits of disputes and arguments Vs 5 of those who misuse God’s Word. How do we respond to this, if it is prevalent in churches, or a home group or fellowship of believing friends? To know the doctrinal errors, we must meditate on the Scripture more and make a home for the Word (God) to live in us. Keep your daily appointment with God. Then we can recognize the ravenous wolves that will come in sheep’s clothing. (Matthew 7:15)
with life’s necessities
Finally, Paul commended the benefits of godliness with contentment. Godliness is an outward and visible act seen by all –whereas the contentment is an inward expression of state of a mind, an attitude of the heart, gratitude of a person in every life situation. Paul believed that true contentment is Christ-sufficiency (Phil 4: 11-13). He says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Contentment is being happy with life’s necessities. Sadly, Christianity is commonly presented today on the basis of what you will gain by following Jesus: personal success and happiness, a respectable job, good health; these things may be true to some extent, but Jesus isn’t an Aladdin’s genie who exists to make man happy materialistically–let us start putting material things in their proper priority next to spiritual things. Godliness really can bring almost unbelievable contentment; but before it can, we must be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). Then emphasis is not on man’s needs but on God’s glory. Real contentment isn’t too difficult for those whose citizenship is heaven!
Oh Lord, You are my shepherd and I should not be in want, but so often I struggle to be content. Keep my heart from being anxious for what I don’t have and make me thankful for the numerous gifts that You have already given. According to Your Word and steadfast love, fill me with the joy and satisfaction of contentment in Christ. Amen.