Tag Archives: 1 Timothy 6

The Path to Contentment

But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV)

Our friend Tony Harris published a book this past year entitled FADS Marketing. Tony is an expert marketer and his book is a fascinating insider’s view of the world of big marketing. The book opened my eyes to the way I am being sold a bill of goods every day with regard to food, alcohol, drugs, and sex (F.A.D.S. Get it?). If I’m blind to it and if I’m not paying attention, then I will fall for it over and over and over again. What big marketing does is take the field of my basic human appetites and then sows discontent.

Contentment is a recurring theme in Paul’s later writing. I find it interesting that it seems to have become a more important topic the further he got in his own spiritual journey. He takes a rather balanced approach. “I know what it is to have plenty,” he writes, “and I know what it’s like to be in need.” In either circumstance, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves (because it can change rapidly in ways we don’t control), we should seek to be content.

That’s hard to do if I’m blind to the fact that every advertisement and marketing ploy (and they’re all over the place) is trying to stir my appetites’ discontent until I have what they tell me I want and need.

The further I get in my life journey the more I find myself pursuing contentment. I’m not perfect at it by a long shot. I confess that. Like most paths to growth and maturity, the road to contentment often finds me repeatedly taking one step forward before falling two steps back. Looking back, however, I can see the progress. More and more the things of real value to me are relationships, conversations, laughter, time, quiet, a shared meal, life together.

In the quiet this morning, I find myself once again honestly taking inventory of my wants and also taking inventory of my haves. Along the path to contentment, I’ve discovered that if I focus myself on gratitude for, and enjoyment of, the latter then the former takes up less room in my heart and mind.

And so, I contentedly enter another day of the journey.

Things I Can’t Control and Things I Can

All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.
1 Timothy 6:1 (NIV)

It is hard, I believe, to understand with our 21st century experience what daily life was like for those who followed Jesus in the days of Paul and Timothy. I have often heard individuals criticize the fact that God’s Message does not specifically condemn slavery, and those arguments come to mind when reading today’s chapter. I have a lot of historical, cultural, and contextual thoughts about why this is the case. Nevertheless, I will admit that it’s only one of many questions I have about the things God says and the subjects on which He chooses to be silent.

What I take from today’s chapter, however, is a human challenge that is as relevant today as it has ever been. At different waypoints along life’s journey we will all find ourselves in situations we cannot escape and that will not be fair. It could be a situation at work, a family relationship, life tragedy, or a legal obligation.  Sometimes in life we are powerless to change our circumstances.

Paul’s entreaty to those who follow Jesus was to manage those things that we can control in otherwise unmanageable situations. We can choose how we act, how we respond to others, what words we choose to use, how we will think, and the attitudes with which we will approach a situation.

Paul was powerless to change slavery in his day. It would be 1800 years before humanity began to address that issue in earnest and it still plagues our fallen world today. What Paul, and his friends who were slaves, could address was how they lived their lives each day within their given circumstances.

Today I am reminded that I cannot always control my circumstances, but I can control my mind, my tongue, my eyes, my ears, my feet and my hands. What I choose to do with them is what matters.

chapter a day banner 2015

The Simplicity of True Enjoyment

2013 07 04 Family at the Lake72So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:8, 17 (NLT) [emphasis added]

I think back to all I have experienced in this life journey and consider which handful of moments have been the most meaningful, spiritually rich, life-giving experiences I have yet known. The most important element seems to be the people I was with in the experience. A few of the experiences involve art, music, or worship. To be completely honest, a few begin with just Wendy, me, and good food – and end with just Wendy, me, and no clothes (Have I mentioned that God loves sex between husbands and wives?!). Sitting back and analyzing here in the pre-dawn hour, I notice, that most of these amazing, life-giving experiences have three common threads:

  1. Good company (family/friends/loved ones)
  2. Good food (a feast, a celebration, or just a good meal)
  3. Good conversation (usually including laughter, and occasionally tears)

I was struck this morning by both the admonishment to be content with food and clothing, and the encouragement that God gives us all we need for enjoyment. How fascinating that not one of the experiences to reach the experiential pinnacle of my forty-some years of conscious memory have anything to do with gadgets, cars, homes, jobs, possessions, sports, bank accounts, IRAs, fortune, or fame. Certainly, a few of the meals and the locations of the meals were the result of the money that made them possible. It is not the food or the location, however, that ultimately made the experience so life-giving – but the people and the interaction.

I am challenged this morning by this realization. If I know that what has been truly enjoyable and life-giving is being around good people, breaking bread together, and engaging in good, life-giving conversation, then why is so much of my life discontentedly drained by chasing after those things which don’t even appear on my list?