Contentment: The Battle Within

November 7, 2004 1 Timothy 6:6-11

I.  The Definition of Contentment

content =            1.  realizing that God has supplied all I need for my present happiness

                              2.  self-sufficient, adequate, needing no assistance

- as I mentioned earlier, good stewardship is an issue of the heart (inner man) issue – our view of Stewardship flows out of our theology (study/view of God)

Q: What is the foundation of our contentment?  What does contentment really rest upon?

*  The foundation for contentment is God Himself! – it’s because of Who He is that we can be content (satisfied completely in Him – not needing anything else)

- one of the reasons man fell in Gen. 3 was this very point:

- Had God given Adam and Eve all they needed to be content?  YES

- but Eve didn’t think so because the fruit was pleasant to the eyes . . . ‘

- in other words, “God wasn’t enough” and what He had given her was not enough!

- but that was NOT the case – find that out in Gen 3 when Adam starts blame shifting!

- Paul put it this way in:

  • 2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,

II.  The Benefits of Contentment

  • 1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

- being content helps us to avoid a number of dangers:

A.  Contentment helps us to focus on the true gain in life.

- Paul connects this with v. 5

- The beginning of v. 6 “but” could be translated ‘indeed’

- the idea here is that the false teachers were using religion to benefit themselves (v. 5)

- Paul’s point is that true godliness is profitable, but not as some people would think because he claries/qualifies it with the last phrase “when accompanied by contentment”

- the true gain is actual wealth or prosperity, but Paul is going farther than just material possessions, he’s including an eternal gain – i.e. that God’s name is glorified

‘that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against’

What is ‘true gain’?

Point:  You’ll never be really satisfied until you are satisfied with glorifying God and exalting the name of Jesus Christ and advancing His kingdom!

“Godliness is a means of great gain when accompanied with contentment!”

“For the believer, then, contentment is more than a mere noble human virtue.  It is based on the sufficiency provided by God the Father and Jesus Christ.  Loving money deprives one of that contentment, thus ignoring the true gain provided by godliness.” – p. 251

“People are truly rich when they are content with what they have.  The richest person is the one who doesn’t need anything else.” – p. 251

- that’s why Proverbs states:

  • Proverbs 30:8 Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, 9 That I not be full and deny You and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or, that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.

- Our satisfaction is found in our relationship with God:

  • Psalm 73:23 Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. 24 With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

- Solomon sums it with these words:

  • Ecclesiastes 5:10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.  [vanity = emptiness].

B.  Contentment helps to avoid focusing in the temporal.

- Because godliness helps you to distinguish between the temporal and the eternal

  • 1 Timothy 6:7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.

- everything you have some day will be gone – nothing you own will last forever

ILL: Talking to Matthew about how our house will not always be here; we won’t need it when we’re in heaven – and it’s temporal, and one strong wind/fire would do away with it!

- in the original text, ‘nothing’ appears first in the sentence for emphasis

- It’s like Job 1:21

  • Job 1:21 He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."
  • Ecclesiastes 5:15 As he had come naked from his mother's womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand.

- people who are not content spend a great deal of their time on pursuits of what is locked in time and space – TEMPORAL – or things that pass away with time!

  • Proverbs 27:24 For riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.

- Jesus had some strong words to say in reference to what we pursue:

  • Matthew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;

[READ Luke 12:15-21 – a parable that illustrates this point] - Jesus also stated:

  • Mark 8:36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?

C.  Contentment helps you to enjoy the simplicity of life!

  • 1 Timothy 6:8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.

- when you don’t have much, you don’t have much to be concerned about!

“Material things demand time and energy that could be better spent on eternal realities.” – p. 252

- how more simple can you get than ‘food and clothing’ – that’s not much

-yet how much do you have in your home that you really don’t need (i.e. could do without it if you HAD to!)

“Paul does not condemn having possessions, if God graciously provides them.  No vow of poverty is required.  What he does condemn is self-indulgent desire for money rising from discontent.  The supreme goal of a believer’s life must be to love and glorify God, not to amass material possessions.” - 253 

* How does a person develop contentment?

1.  Remember the 1stprinciple of stewardship (repeat)

2.  Cultivate a thankful heart for whatever God has chosen to give you.

3.  Learn to determine between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’

4.  Discipline yourself to spend less than you make!

5.  Learn to be generous with the Lord and advancing His cause!

[READ Matthew 6:24-33]

Q: What are you seeking?  What ‘controls’ you or ‘drives’ you to spend your money the way you do?

ILL:  Teenage girls who went to Argentina with her dad – she was very selfish, unthankful, rebellious – yet when she arrived, the next day she called her mom, crying, asking forgiveness for her ingratitude, etc and she made this statement, “Mom, I have more clothes in my suitcase than most of these kids have in their closets.”

- God taught her a huge lesson on contentment and gratitude (both go together)

III.  The Consequences for Not Being Content – [Scot teaches A & B]

A.  Your life may result in sinful entrapment – 6:9a

  • 1 Timothy 6:9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires. . ..

want = a settled desire, one born of reason, not emotion and describes clearly those guilty of the sin of greed!

- the verb fall is present tense:  indicates a continual falling into temptation/trap

“Greedy people are continually entrapped by their consuming drive for more.  Their pursuit of what they want is their passion.  Their sinful behavior becomes compulsive and controls their lives.” – p. 255

- if not handled properly, a person can make an idol out of money/things/possessions

- listen to what Moses said to Israel:

  • Deuteronomy 7:25 The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the LORD your God.

B.  You will succumb to harmful desires – 6:9b

Desire (epithumia) – strong desire (not wrong of itself; the context determines the use of the word – in 1 Tim. 3 – good desire (the office of a pastor) – here it’s an evil desire!

Q:  Is God and His word going to control you, or will you your ‘foolish desires’ trap you?

>  i.e. not wise – contrary to what the Creator designed – God wants us to make wise decisions – decisions based on His Word and His nature/character!

> the desire for material things alone is irrational, senseless, illogical

Q:  Is God and His word going to control you, or will you be trapped by your ‘harmful desires’?

Point: “People controlled by them thrash around like an animal in a trap, victims of their own evil lusts” – p. 256

- These desires can lead to some surprising behavior – cf. James 4:1-2 [READ]

- The interesting thing is this:  THOSE DESIRES NEVER SATISFY OR BRING LASTING JOY!

C.  A person could face eternal judgment – 6:9c

  • 1 Timothy 6:9 . . . which plunge men into ruin and destruction.

- the pursuit of ‘things’ over God ultimately ruins a person’s spiritual life

  • Plunge = to sink, submerge or drag to the bottom (Point:  It drowns you!)
  • Ruin = the word is often used of the body
  • Destruction = usually refers to the eternal ruin of the soul

Point: “The three terms together paint a picture of the total devastation of both the body and soul.” – p. 256

- For a believer, the eternal judgment was paid for at the cross – but there are eternal implications to the fact that God can call you into account at any time!

IV.  Examples of Those Who Were NOT Content

  • 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Input: What biblical examples can you give of those ‘overtaken’ by their lust/greed/covetousnes

>  Mention:  Achan (Josh. 7:1-26); Judas (Matt. 27:3-5); Simon (Acts 8:20-23);

* Key Passages: James 5:1-5 and Psalm 17:15[READ]