Godliness Is Gain

2b Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 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. 10 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 6:2b-10)

The Bible talks a great deal about money. Money is what we use to get what we need or what we want. Many people will say, “I don’t want a lot of money, that is not me really,” but at the same time they want many things that money can buy – a bigger house, a new car, a nice vacation, an up-to-date wardrobe, new and better toys, power over other people, respect that money can bring, and so on. Money is a very powerful tool, and it can, if we let it, create in us great lust for more and more.

There are all kinds of ways to get money. Some ways are honest and legitimate and others are by stealing and other crime. Even in honest ways of gaining money through working hard, we can fall into a trap of wanting it too much. We can work more than we should and neglect many God-given responsibilities due to hard work or an over abundance of work. For some, jobs are chosen or declined based purely on how much money is involved rather than the question, “How would this job fit into my greater goal of glorifying God, in a larger context of living for Christ?”

Money, or the desire for it, can drive many aspects of life. Sometimes we don’t even realize this happens until we are faced with a shortfall or even an abundance. It is easy to think that money is some kind of savior. We may look at it that way. Like, “If I had more money I would be good. If I had more money I would have peace, if I had more money I would have real joy in life.” Or, “If I had more money I would not have so many problems.” Do you see how we can sometimes view money? “It will bring me peace, it will bring me joy, it will make my problems go away.” We can view money as if it is a savior, but it is never meant to be that.

Money is necessary in society and life, but it is never meant to be a savior or the source of our stability in life. Our Savior is our Lord and He alone is to give us stability in life. We are to look to Him as our Savior, our joy, our peace, and the one who helps us to navigate through the trials that come.

In Paul’s day, false teachers were popping up all around and they were motivated by money. They had the idea of somehow spreading false teaching and profiting from it financially. They were opportunists. They saw how people were following teachers of the gospel and they believed that if they could produce a better message, a more popular message than what was being taught, then they could draw even more to themselves and more people following them meant more money in their pockets.

A good and popular product means more money, right? This is not a bad thing, I mean selling what people want, unless of course it is counter to what is pleasing to God or in this case counter to God’s revealed truth. They were in the business of competing with God and in that way leading people astray from the gospel. Their love for money was driving them far from God and taking others with them.

We don’t want to be naive to think this doesn’t happen today. When we see products out there that are promising an awesome life, we should be careful. When someone is trying to sell you something and it sounds like it will transform your life into near perfection, be cautious. When the sales pitch for a product sounds more like a religious experience, watch out. I have heard and read of some products where it almost sounds like they are taking about a savior rather than a product to be purchased, religious words are even used, spiritual aspects are brought in and it sounds like religion.

Philosophies that are counter to Christianity are also being peddled. Be aware. And you will notice that there is usually a profit to be made by those who are selling a miraculous life changing product or the newest philosophy that will improve your life.

Let’s not be gullible. There is one Savior and that is Jesus Christ. That is what Paul is getting to in these verses.

Paul says in verse 6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” What is great gain? Godliness with contentment.

We have to see this in its context. Just before verse 6, in verse 5 Paul makes the point that false teachers, those spreading a false gospel, did so out of a desire to gain financially. It was their get rich quick scheme. That is the point. They believed that their so called godliness, their man made ways that purported to be godly would bring them gain. If someone can gain a following, they can profit from it. And Paul counters that with verse 6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Not financial gain but gain spiritually, soul satisfying gain.

The false teachers were after gain, financial gain. But Paul says godliness with contentment is what actually brings soul satisfying gain. There is a big difference between the two.

True godliness is profitable, but not as some think. Godliness means piety or likeness to God. It is a way of describing holiness in life. And when this godliness is met with contentment then there is great gain. Contentment, we all know what that means, right? We understand what it means to be content. And though we understand the idea of contentment, the truth is we struggle to be content, don’t we? In fact, right now just answer this question in your own mind: are you content in life?

Contentment actually means self-sufficiency. It was used in ancient days to describe someone who was unmoved by circumstances around him or her. That is, no matter what was going on in a person’s life they would be unmoved by it, it would not really affect their well being or their emotions. This is sort of a stoic way of looking at contentment.

For the Christian, contentment comes from God, not from self. It is being satisfied in God with whatever God puts in one’s life. It is a deep trust in the hand of an all-powerful and loving God. Listen to some ways that Paul describes this incredible way to live.

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that ha tving all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

You see, I am sure, this ultimate and abiding trust in God no matter what. Such a trust that contentment arises in all cases.

Godliness produces contentment. This is so different than going to and fro in worry, and fear, and dissatisfaction with life and anger over a lack of goods or covetousness over what others have. No, godliness leads to contentment.

We are believing a lie if we think that money will satisfy the longings of our soul. In fact, it is money that often times brings with it great temptation, more opportunity to sin. In my short life and limited experience I can say that though I have known some very wealthy people and some very poor people, I have found no real proof that the rich are happier than the poor. I don’t know why we sometimes believe they are, but they are not.

Paul goes on in verse 7 and says this by way of emphasis: “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” The temporal life is just that: temporary. We came in with nothing and we leave with nothing. Whatever we gain on earth we leave here. Mark 8:36 says this: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

Jesus’ parable in Luke 12 is a powerful example of one who focuses his life on temporary gain:

15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21)

God does give more to some and less to others as far as money goes. That is obvious. None of us here make the exact same amount of money. But those amounts do not define us, nor should they define our contentment or joy. In fact, as far as contentment goes it should take very little to satisfy us. Paul says it this way in verse 8: “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Can you say that? Can you say that honestly? Can we so trust God, so glory in God, be so satisfied in Him that we simply need a little food and some clothing and we are good? In our country, in our society that would be living as a very poor person. What this speaks of is just having the necessities of life. It is a simple life.

Jesus taught this simple life and simple trust and simple contentment in Matthew 6:

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:24-33)

He describes here a life free of worry, a life of trust in our Lord. We don’t have to fret over things, God has got it.

I wish I could say that I have lived my life of 52 years in this state of contentment and trust in God with my finances. It’s funny really, I can go back and remember various times when I wondered and worried that we would not have enough. Honestly there have been too many times when I have worried over that. There was one time in particular when I was working for a company, really two times working for companies that I thought were going under, and I became very anxious about the future. One of those times I was fearful we would lose our house. I think the big thing for me was pride. I didn’t want to be seen as a failure, as one who could not take care of my family. As if I was ever truly the one taking care of them at all. God’s the one who takes care of them.

I remember going to a friend of mine and just laying out all my worries. My friend helped me with my wrong thinking. He helped me refocus on Christ. I was reminded that God is faithful and that God was able to carry me through even if I lost some earthly possessions.

We didn’t lose everything and really didn’t lose anything. But it was a time when God instructed me through His Word and His Spirit and He reminded me that He is able to take care of me and my family no matter what. That doesn’t mean we will always have what we have now, or that you will always have what you have now, but whatever you have will be enough at that moment. It will be enough for you to trust and glorify our Lord.

Riches are not the answer. Christ is the answer. Riches will not satisfy, Christ alone satisfies. Riches will not bring contentment, Christ brings contentment.

In summary, the writer of Proverbs got it right. He knew where joy came from and it wasn’t riches.

8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9)

Where is your trust? In whom or in what are you placing your trust?

Next time we will see some of the terrible consequences of trusting in riches rather than trusting in our Lord who alone is trustworthy!

2b Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 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. 10 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 6:2b-10)