Greed vs. Contentment
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,
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, 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, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But 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.
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, 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,
1 Timothy 6:3-
1 Timothy 6:3
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,
and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
1 Timothy 6:5
But 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.
1 Timothy 6:8
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.
This is a weighty passage that has a ton of different things flowing within it. But surely we can all agree that there is something contain in those last 2 verses that should raise our defenses against incoming attacks.
I talked to a man last Monday afternoon in Dothan. He was a retired sniper in the Marine core. JP and his boy were playing basketball together and it gave us some time to talk about his unique life experiences. He told me about his time in Somalia which was a humanitarian effort and how the very same kids they fed during the day were ones throwing bombs at them at night. He told me about Desert Storm and how he spent 172 days in a hole living on high alert.
25 years in the Marines with 23 spent in the field before they moved him to the Pentagon. He retired about 5 acres and built a house and he told me every night he MUST get in his golf cart and patrol his property line. Sleep will be impossible for him unless he makes sure his family is secure.
When I read today’s passage, I see the very same need in our life. A constant patrol of our hearts to maintain the security of our own and our family’s hearts. Because the warning here is SIGNIFICANT!
The catastrophic end the enemy desires for us to experience is created from within the heart that has gain as its ultimate goal and not godliness.
This is what this passage says in a nutshell. That having this very specific type of gain… we are not talking about money as material but money as an idol. There’s nothing wrong with money in and of itself, but when our hearts begin loving it… when greed rises and becomes a major condition of our heart… the enemy will use that effectively to lead us into destruction.
So put simply, greed leads us to a catastrophic end. So catastrophic that people will actually leave God to chase gold. There will be an abandoning of your faith to pursue Mammon. Now you might be familiar with that word especially if you are a King James reader. Jesus said you cannot serve God and Mammon. This was the name of the Syrian and Chaldean god that was the personification of lusts and excess—greed, gluttony, dishonest gain.
This is the warning Paul is giving that flows from this abandonment of God—you will pierce yourself with many pains. John MacArthur says, “You skewer your own soul and roast it over the consuming fire of grief—a condemned conscience, unfulfilled desires, dissatisfaction, and disillusionment.”
This is what we are dealing with today. A path that seems harmless, almost noble, as we seek to better our lives, but can quickly turn into life-altering destruction.
The Path of Greed
3 Things—Wrong Content, Wrong Conduct, Wrong Values
3 Things—Wrong Content, Wrong Conduct, Wrong Values
1. Wrong Content—Greed Removes Christ (vs. 3-4a)
The pegs that Paul uses to create the boundaries for correct doctrine is the words of the Lord Jesus Christ and godly living. The particular people Paul was dealing with were the false teachers who believed that propagating a new belief system could be profitable. And how it was so profitable was that there particular teaching removed the Lordship of Jesus and allowed the people to believe that their happiness and success and feelings were the ultimate priority.
That’s why we see Paul write specifically “our Lord Jesus CHRIST…” He is the One that has been promised since . Everything from the moment of Creation has been leading up to Him being crowned King of kings and Lord of lords. That doctrine isn’t profitable because everything about Jesus tells us to lose our own life for the sake of finding Him.
Greediness is incompatible with the necessary Christian distinctive of self-sacrifice.
2. Wrong Conduct—Greed Corrupts Behavior (vs. 4b-5)
This is the natural progression. If you remove the teaching of Christ so that you can live in greed unrepentant, your behavior will without a doubt be ungodly. The word ‘godliness’ is a key word in this passage. It carries a negative and positive connotation. The negative is the profitable godliness. This false godliness that is worried about you and you alone. The positive is the godliness that Christ calls us too.
As Christians, we are aiming and striving for the Greek word- Eusebia which means basically well-worship or worship that is rightly directed. It’s a lifestyle of Coram Deo—Living before the face of God. Proper attitude and conduct before Him in everything! That’s what we are aiming for.
But what happens when greed rules our lives is we become so bent on our desires, wants and preferences being met everyone else is disregarded. We become careless with our words because people’s feelings don’t matter… just ours. We become fixated on what we want at any cost… because people don’t matter. And your life is full of friction and just read again verse 4.
Listen, I hear all the time people say that they have no care what others think of them. I get what you are trying to say… I’m not advocating we aim to please people. But we must ask ourselves that question that if we don’t get along with many people is the problem not them but us? And if it is us… as Christians we turn people off not because of our godliness but because of our corrupted attitudes and behavior… that’s a major problem.
Alexander Maclaren—The world takes its notions of God, most of all, from the people who say they belong to God’s family. The read us a great deal more than they read the bible. They see us. The only hear about Jesus.
How do you know if you are falling into a lifestyle of greed?
- You are more concerned with making money than you are personal holiness
- You feel like you never have enough
- You live a lifestyle that exceeds your income
- You resent giving it away
- You are willing to sin to get it
3. Wrong Values—Greed Diminishes Eternity (vs. 7)
What greed does is it elevates the temporal over the eternal.
When our eyes and our flesh become overtaken by the desire to acquire for ourselves as much as possible now, we live in an unfulfilling cycle of attempts to fill ourselves with something that’ll never take up space and satisfy us.
If you were to drop dead right now… RIGHT NOW!! Would you stand before God full having lived life satisfied in Him or would you be a hollow cavity never knowing contentment?
And that thought leads us to the next side of this passage. We have seen the negative false side of godliness—this imagining that godliness brings self-serving gain.
Paul takes the same language and shows how actually godliness is GREAT GAIN when paired with contentment.
I read a thousand pithy definitions of contentment this week…
- Not passive acceptance of status quo but positive assurance of God’s supply
- Wanting what you have not having everything you want
Epicurus said the secret to contentment is, “Adding not to a man’s treasures but taking away from his desires.”
Thomas Watson said it beautifully, “Contentment is a sweet temper of spirit whereby a Christian carries himself in equal poise in every condition.”
3 Things Concerning Contentment
1. It’s a Divine Thing
It’s not something we can acquire but something that the Spirit graciously gives. Contentment is infused in us the more we know God… His character and His provision.
2. It’s an Internal Thing
Everything in our life may be taken from us… thieves may plunder us of our money and possessions but they can never steal the pearl of contentment locked away in the heart.
3. It’s a Habitual Thing
Contentment is not something that shows itself every now and then… This is a condition of the heart.
How to fight for Contentment?
- Realize one day all these material riches will be gone
- Praise God for what you do have
- Monitor what you are willing to do to have more
- Love people more than money
- Love God’s work more than money
This is the embodiment of
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Contentment and the Gospel
The Gospel doesn’t increase our desire for those things we already want without the Gospel. It increases our ability to live in need with joy.
This is the great gain…