A Study of Godliness and Contentment from the Pastoral Epistles
“But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6, KJV).
The last time I wrote for SI, I wrote about something big—mega-ministry. I tried to show that God can do great and mighty things in and through us, no matter the size of our congregation. Today, I write about something else that is big. In the passage I quoted above, the apostle Paul said that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” The word great is the Greek word “megas,” and the word gain speaks of “an acquisition.” Most of us will never be able to participate in a multi-billion-dollar corporate acquisition, but according to this verse, godliness with contentment comprises a “mega-acquisition.” By God’s grace we can and must have godliness with contentment in our lives.
The Importance of Godliness
Godliness is a reverence and respect for God that manifests itself in a life that brings glory to His name. There’s hardly a week that goes by that we are not made aware of some case of moral collapse in the family of God. The practice of godliness is the need of the hour for every believer. Notice some things Paul said about godliness in his two letters to Timothy.
Prayer is a necessary practice for godly living.
In 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul said, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” Godly people will make prayer a priority in their lives. I often ask the people at Calvary Baptist Church what they think is the most important thing we do. Some say evangelism. Others say discipleship. I always remind them that prayer is the most important thing we do.
The Practice of Godliness Is Profitable for Every Area of Life
I believe this is one of the truths Paul was writing about in 1 Timothy 4:7-8 when he wrote, “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (emphasis added). Godliness is something we practice not just at church but in every area of life.
Sound Doctrine Is Necessary for Godly Living
False doctrine leads to ungodly behavior. First Timothy 6:3-5 says, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
The Pursuit of Godliness Is More Important than the Pursuit of Money
In 1 Timothy 6, Paul said,
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness (vv. 6-11).
When God’s people pursue money more than godliness, they focus on the temporal instead of on the eternal.
Giving an Impression of Godliness Is Never Acceptable
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:5). God is not impressed by people who simply give an impression that they are godly. He wants us to be godly!
The Importance of Contentment
Benjamin Franklin said, “Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.” The apostle Paul was a rich man because he mastered contentment by the grace of God. Because he was content, Paul was able to highly commend and appreciate God’s people. In Philippians 4:10-14, Paul rejoiced because God’s people had given to a need in his life. Paul made it clear in this passage that he appreciated their concern for his needs regardless of whether they could actually give. Isn’t it refreshing when a ministry leader can appreciate God’s people regardless of whether they can send a check? Isn’t it discouraging when a ministry leader makes God’s people feel like they can never do enough?
Because Paul was content, he was willing to do whatever God wanted him to do. Circumstances were not a determining factor in ministry decisions. According to verse 12, Paul knew how to live with humble means, and he knew how to live in prosperity. In verse 13, we find the key to Paul’s ability to serve God in all circumstances. He could “do all things through Christ” who strengthened him! While I know there are more spiritually barren places in the world than New York State, we have a need for the planting of more gospel-preaching churches here. I grow weary when I hear that young men aren’t interested in coming to New York to establish churches until the circumstances are just right. That mindset will someday stifle church planting across the land if the economy ever takes a hit. What a shame! We need more young men who, like the apostle Paul, will go where God directs, no matter the circumstances, and accomplish great things through our strong God.
A study of corporate history shows that some companies became great through wise acquisitions. Other companies fell apart because they missed a great opportunity. Godliness with contentment is a great acquisition we can afford by God’s grace. Don’t miss this great opportunity!
Pastor Joe Roof graduated from Bob Jones University with a B.A. and an M.A. in Bible. In 1993, he led in the planting of Fellowship Baptist Church in Schenectady, New York; and later in the merging of Fellowship Baptist Church and the Peoples Baptist Church of Albany, New York. Calvary Baptist Church is the result of this merger. In 1998, Joe also led in the planting of the Adirondack Baptist Church in Amsterdam, New York. He serves as vice president of the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches and on the boards of Plant America and the Catskill Mountain Missionary Association.