Great Gain Through Godliness
1 Tim. 6:6-10
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
Paul is making a direct contrast with the motive of the false teachers in verse five. In fact, he agrees with them in part. Godliness is the means of great gain. However, Paul gives a formula for getting rich that defies not only their view of gain but our modern concept of how to become wealthy. Here is Paul’s simple formula:
Godliness + Contentment = Great Gain.
▸ Great Wealth is Found in Godliness
Godliness refers to being like God. Faithful teaching accords without godliness (6:3). The exercise of godliness is profitable for all things now and eternal (4:8). God knows how to deliver the godly from temptations (2 Pet. 2:9). Godliness will make us fruitful (2 Pet. 1:5). Godliness results from loving God never from loving money.
▸ Great Wealth is Found in Contentment
Contentment “is an inward self-sufficiency, as opposed to the lack or the desire of outward things” (Vincent 4.275). This contentment comes from being godly and has as its ultimate source God Himself. “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13). A wealthy man thinks he has all he needs and wants of nothing. A content person has all they need and has want of nothing.
Many millionaires never knew the contentment of a godly man. The first billionaire in the world, John D. Rockefeller said, “The poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money.” It is the rich who visit psychiatrists and/or commit suicide more often than the poor. Money can buy a lot of things in this world. Two things necessary to have a great wealth, godliness and contentment cannot be bought at any price. True happiness and riches are found within the rich relationship a believer has with God in his heart, not the amount of money he has in his bank account.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
▸ Great Wealth is Not Found in Temporal Goods
This is one of the most well attested axioms in the Bible. Job said,”Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Solomon wrote, “As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand” (Eccl. 5:15). “Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him” (Ps. 49:16-17). An old Spanish proverb reminds us that there are no pockets found on a burial shroud. You can amass material goods on this earth, but you cannot take them with you. Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul?
In fact, spending one’s life to make more and more money to buy mounds and mounds of material goods does not make a lot of sense. After all, all of it one day will either rust, decay, be stolen, or inherited by another (Matt. 6:19,20) or burned up (2 Pet. 3:10,12). No matter how much you have you can never buy back your lost soul (Mk. 8:36). Truly, “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).
8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
▸ Great Wealth Can Be Found in Food and Covering
Jesus had food and covering. He never showed signs of discontent. The bare necessities of life are all that is needed for one to be rich in this life. A rich miser cannot even enjoy his own food. In fact, some have been known to starve to death while sleeping on a mattress loaded with money. A wealthy man like John D. Rockefeller could not even eat a steak because his pursuit for riches had destroyed his stomach with ulcers. Those who cannot be content most likely will never learn to be content. They will desire more and more.
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
▸ Worldly Wealth is Destructive
Those who make it their life’s goal to be rich set themselves up for a fall. Like a baited trap, Satan waits from those who lust for more and more and go for the temptation. Those who want to be rich continue to fall and fall for one scheme after another. Enough is never enough “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity” (Eccl. 5:10). They will borrow money they do not have to purchase things they do not need. In the end, they drown. It is interesting that Paul uses a metaphor here of a man drowning in his attempt to be wealthy. It is said that when a great ocean liner sank to the depths of the sea a rich man went back for his money belt weighed down with gold. His efforts to swim to a lifeboat were in vain as he slipped beneath the waves and drowned. Many never have any riches or gold, but they drown in the red ink of credit card debit.
The Bible is replete with examples of those trapped but their own greed. Achan brought destruction upon himself because he took contraband at the destruction of Jericho. Judas hung himself having betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. Ananias and Saphirra both dropped dead at Peter’s feet because of their dishonesty over money. The list goes on and on.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
▸ Worldly Wealth Costs Too Much
Notice it is not money that is the root of all kinds of evil, but the love of money. It literally means “affection for silver.” No matter how much you have, no amount of money is worth losing your soul. Gold cannot replace God. Fortune cannot replace faith. The riches of the world cannot compare with the riches of Heaven. Though money itself is not evil, but a gift from God; money tempts us into thinking it is the giver of all good things instead of God. Some Christians think they can love both God and material goods. Jesus warned, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt 6:24).
Riches do not equal happiness. Jay Gould is rumored to have been worth $100 million at the time of his death. He died saying, “I’m the most miserable man in the world.” Many die disillusioned by what money seems to promise and what it actually gives in return. All that is spent or lost to get wealth, time, marriage, children, health, the soul is too great compared to what little is received in return.
– Daniel R. Vess