“Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
Do you know where your money, time, and energy go? Do you use a monthly budget based on specific goals or needs? Do you have money for a medical, family, or household emergency? More generally, do you know what you want to achieve outside of work, with your family, time, investments, and church? How does your work line up with your faith? Do you spend time on your priorities every day, or are you distracted? Do you spend enough quality time with your family? In church ministry service? When you put your head on the pillow at night are you satisfied that you used the day wisely? These questions relate to the stewardship of our time and money, the two general categories of our activities. Our actions reflect our priorities and desires. Being distracted means that we are either very poor managers of our time and finances, or we have desires that we haven’t admitted to but spend time pursuing. We are going to spend some time on biblical stewardship—first on the concept in general, then more specifically on financial stewardship.
The truth of 1 Timothy 6:6 is profound: “godliness with contentment is great gain.” I could be wrong, but I think most young Christians would find the idea of contentment bland and undesirable, preferring excitement or passion instead. However, the older we get, the more we value contentment and all its implications. What does it mean to be content? Is it merely the absence of anxiety, worry, and complaining? The dictionary will tell us something like this: contentment is a state of happiness, ease, and satisfaction. However, our verse describes contentment as having the food and clothing we need to live this life, between birth and death. To those, we only need to add godliness to have a great spiritual increase in our lives.
Four principles of biblical stewards are 1. God owns everything, has a right to do what he will (Psalm 24); 2. Stewards have responsibilities to manage what is God’s, but not rights (Luke 16:1-8); 3. Stewards are accountable to God for how they manage what belongs to him (Matthew 25:14-28); and 4. Faithful stewards are spiritually and sometimes materially rewarded (Matthew 25:21) .*
We can anchor our spending habits (of time and money) on these biblical principles to be more content with God’s provisions and less likely “to fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” Later in our study, we will explore the truth that money itself is not evil, but the love and craving of money is “the root of all kinds of evils.” We cannot be content if we are also coveting that which we do not have.
How would you rate your godly contentment factor? In what areas of your life do you struggle to be satisfied, appreciating and wisely using what you have, without coveting that which you do not have? Think about the world’s pressure to be wealthy, accomplished, beautiful, smart, popular, well-informed, successful, or perfect. Do you struggle to accept who you are in Christ, or are you content with the way God has made you and provided for you?
* This helpful four-point synopsis was taken from The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics website, https://tifwe.org/four-principles-of-biblical-stewardship/.
For a more in-depth exploration into contentment or coveting, I highly recommend these books:
“The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” by Jeremiah Burroughs, Puritan Paperbacks.
“The Envy of Eve, Finding Contentment in a Covetous World” by Melissa Kruger, Christian Focus Publications.