“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11). If we are to be content in whatever state we are in, where must that contentment ultimately come from?
While writing to Timothy, Paul describes an unsavory group of people “who think that godliness is a means to financial gain” (1 Tim. 6:5, NIV). What better description of some of the TV hucksters today could there be than this? They make a lot of money telling listeners that if they are but faithful (and that “faithfulness” includes supporting their ministry), then these listeners will be rich, too? The equating of wealth with faithfulness is just another manifestation of materialism but under the guise of Christianity.
The fact is, godliness has nothing to do with wealth. If so, some of the world’s nastiest people would have to be deemed godly because they are also some of the wealthiest. Instead, Paul countered that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6, NIV). Godliness with contentment in any circumstance is the greatest type of riches because God’s grace is far more valuable than financial gain. Thus, we should be content with “food and clothing” (1 Tim. 6:8, NIV). In the end, no matter how much we have, there will always be more to get if we are inclined to think that way.
“Contentment in every condition is a great art, a spiritual mystery. It is to be learned, and to be learned as a mystery. . . . Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition. . . . It is a box of precious ointment, and very comforting and useful for troubled hearts, in troubled times and conditions.” – Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, pages 1, 3.