Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).
What do you need right now? What would make you genuinely, blissfully, permanently happy if you just had it right now? Ultimately, the answers to that question fall into one of just two categories: either “gain is godliness” or “godliness is gain.” Paul writes in 1 Timothy that wholesome, healthy words are only found in the words of, and in keeping with, our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:3). Anything else — no matter the spin you put on it, or the degree you award it, or the book deal you sign for it — is proud foolishness, the vain speculations of corrupted minds and selfish hearts (1 Timothy 6:4-5).
The assumption from which such false teachers work is “that godliness is a means of gain.” In other words, they consider personal gain to be their great goal, not godliness for its own merits. Gain is their “godliness”; it is what they worship and strive for. Yet, Paul insists that the opposite is actually true: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Submitting to God in Christ, finding your identity in Christ is the only real good.
Every other world religion, self-help program, or secular philosophy comes down to this: “gain is godliness.” Whatever makes you happy or feel good is good.
Whether it is the legalistic religious person coming up with a bunch of rules that make him or her feel better than everyone else, or it is the hedonist rebel who throws off all morality to follow his or her passions, or it is the materialistic professional that seeks satisfaction in climbing the corporate or academic ladder, or it is the pagan Aztec who feels like he or she has appeased the gods with the animal or human sacrifice — gain is godliness. Whatever makes you happy or feel good is good.
Christianity, however, teaches the opposite: godliness is gain. Submitting to God in Christ, finding your identity in Christ is the only real good.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ your identity is wrapped up this reality: God loves you intimately.
What about you? Are you waiting for, dependent on, the next thing in order to find happiness? Or are you complete and content simply because of who you are in Christ? Maybe you’re not the smartest student in the classroom, or maybe you’re a straight-A student; maybe you’re the CEO of your company, or maybe you work in the basement sorting the CEO’s mail; maybe you’re the perfect human specimen of physical fitness and attractiveness, or maybe you’re the poster child for why plastic surgery was invented.
No matter who you are, what you were born with or born without, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ your identity is wrapped up this reality: God loves you intimately, and your life is an opportunity to show God how much you love Him!
Christian, what do you love?
What motivates you to get out of bed each morning, fulfills you to achieve throughout the week, thrills you to think about each day, gives you peace as you go to bed each night? Is gain your godliness? Or do you find joyful contentment with who you are in Christ and what you can do in service for Christ’s name?
If you are not a Christian, what do you love? Is gain your idea of “godliness” or success?
Is the pursuit of your own pleasure the highest good you’ve ever known? Then I ask you to consider Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us so that we need never need anything else ever again. In Christ we have everything we need, now and forever; and having everything, we are freed to quit serving ourselves and instead love God and serve people selflessly. This is true contentment — a life that finds its identity in Jesus Christ and lives joyfully toward others out of the abundant reserves of Christ’s grace and love and mercy. Godliness with contentment is great gain.