Text: I Tim 6:6-12 (especially v.6)
Paul, the Apostle, writing to Timothy in his first epistle, relates to him the importance of the virtues of godliness and contentment. Paul remarks that godliness combined with contentment is "great gain". The word for "gain" that Paul uses is porismos, which denotes money-getting (acquisition). Paul's argument is that Timothy should not strive for worldly riches, but for spiritual riches, which are truly great gain. Worldly riches tend only to snare and to destroy; for the love of money is the root of all evil. But Timothy is to follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. He is to fight the good fight of faith, to lay hold on eternal life.
In this passage, Paul says that two primary virtues are of great value -- godliness and contentment. We shall look at each one separately, denoting its meaning as Paul intended. First, we will examine the essence of godliness. In the second part of the message we will take at look at the meaning of contentment.
When Paul speaks of godliness He is speaking of that virtue of God that we refer to as the holiness of God. To be holy is to be godly, or like God, and to be godly, or to be like God, is to be holy.
In I Peter we are commanded,
"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Pet 1:15-16 KJV).
Holiness, as taught in Scripture, is living in complete accordance with the law of God. As Christians, holiness, for us is not an option, it is a command!
Holiness begins when we:
I. Perceive the Majesty of God
A. It is only as we recognize the essence of God's character that we will truly seek to be holy.
Let me explain:
1) There are two aspects of God's divine nature: Justice and Mercy
God's holiness is defined by both. In other words, beacuse God is holy, God is also just. And likewise, because God is holy, God is also merciful. Both His justice and His mercy spring from His holiness. And apart from the justice and mercy of God you cannot define, or even begin to understand His holiness.
2) Because God is just, He will judge us according to righteousness. That is why the Bible calls Him the "Righteous Judge". To be judged according to righteousness means that we will receive a just recompense for our sins. And to receive a just recompense for our sins means that we will be condemned to a devil's hell. Hell is a just punishment for sin. So we are to told that for this reason we are to fear God:
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt 10:28 KJV)
And we are told in the Proverbs:
"The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate" (Prov 8:13 KJV).
"By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil" (Prov 16:6 KJV).
II. Pursue the Mandate of God
A. Back to the passage in I Peter. We are commanded to "Be Holy." This is God's mandate. God tells us plainly in His word that Holiness is expected of each and every Christian. None of us are perfectly holy. But we ought to be "perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Cor 7:1). (See Also Titus
B. My motive for pursuing the mandate of God is not GAIN but GRATITUDE !
III. Practice the Manner of God
A. When I live a life of holiness I am following after God. I am to be holy, "for I am holy" says the Lord.
We read in 1 Tim 4:7 that Timothy is to “exercise himself unto godliness.”
And in verse 8 Paul states, "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" (1 Tim 4:8 KJV).
It is evident from this passage that Holiness is a discipline, just like physical exercise. And if I discipline myself unto holiness it profits me in at least 2 ways: There is...
1) Promise for this life
2) Promise for the life to come
Now let's consider the second part of our message.
It is important to note that godliness is combined with contentment in this passage. So it is not godliness alone that is great gain, but godliness with contentment.
Paul urges Timothy to avoid the pitfall of riches. He states that to desire riches is to "fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts." Earlier we examined the importance of godliness in the life of the believer. We saw that godliness is not an option, but a command.
I believe that a primary prerequisite for godliness is contentment. It is the lack of contentment in most instances that leads to temptation.
Contentment begins by...
I. Recalling Our Vocation
A. We are laborers for the Kingdom
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:8-9
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.
B. We are Servants of the Most High God
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
C. We are not our own, but have been bought with a price
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
1 Corinthians 7:23
Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
D. We are sojourners on this earth - See Abraham in Hebrews 11
II. Redefining Our Values
If what is stated previously is true, then we must redefine our values. What are our values? Career? Money? Family? Power? Prestige? Or, the things that pertain to the kingdom of God?
We must redefine our values in light of our vocation.
Matthew 6:33 - But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
III. Redirecting Our Vision
A. The Bible says:
"If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col 3:1-2 KJV).
B. My focus must be on Christ , not on Creation. It is the Lord who gives us richly all things to enjoy (I Tim 6:17).
C. Having Christ, I can be content, for Jesus hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb 13:5).
Contentment is something that must be learned. It is not something that comes automatically. Paul says,
"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil 4:11-13 KJV).
When I practice holines in obedience to the command of God, while remaing content because I have the very presence of God in the person of Christ always with me, this is truly GREAT GAIN!