1 Timothy 6:6-8
But godliness with contentment is great gain.…
I. WHAT IS MEANT IN SCRIPTURE BY "GODLINESS"? It frequently means the gospel. As in this same first Epistle to Timothy (1 Timothy 3:16), "Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness." In other passages godliness means, as the word actually means in the old Saxon, Godlikeness, or a likeness to God; because the object of the revelation of Christ in the gospel is to show us the character of God in the person of a man, and thereby set us a pattern for us to copy — and by offering grace to all, by which they may be able to copy that pattern, to make them Godlike by making them like Christ.
II. NOW THE EFFECT OF THIS GODLINESS IS IN THE TEXT STATED TO BE "CONTENTMENT" — "godliness with contentment" — that is, religion with the contentment which it always brings forth. Let us now, in examining this part of our subject, endeavour to learn how true religion produces contentment.
1. It teaches us to know God. The ideas which men are able to form of God's character, by observing His works, and without the help of revelation, are not such as to produce contentment. His works show the extent of His power; and the order and harmony of them, His own knowledge and perfection. But to know this will not produce contentment. We must know God's moral character for this. Now the Bible reveals God to us as a God whose name is "Love"; as a God whose goodness and mercy are as great as His power and wisdom. Thus the Bible reveals the Eternal God as the kindest friend of sinful man. And when this, which the Word of God thus discovers, is believed in the heart, then contentment must be produced, and will increase as the knowledge of God's character and the assurance of His love increase. For the Christian thus reasons: Is God all-wise? then surely He knows what is best for me. Is He as good as He is wise? then surely He will give what is best for me.
2. But, secondly, the Scripture teaches us to know ourselves, and thus leads us to contentment. Discontent always springs from pride and an overweening conceit of our own value and excellence. We are all by nature high-minded, and esteem ourselves at more than we are worth. Thus, true religion, by humbling a man, tends to produce contentment, for it shows him and makes him feel that he deserves nothing, so that every thing he has is more than he deserves; since he who values himself at nothing will count everything he receives to be above his value, and therefore a call on him for gratitude. And this contentment, the blessed fruit of godliness, were it spread through the world, were it growing in every heart, would set the foundations of the earth in course again, and bring into order what sin has thrown into confusion. It would teach men to keep to their place and to fulfil its duties. It would cut up all covetousness by the root, while it would give no check to honest industry and proper care to provide for our own household. It would put an end to that diseased love of change, and restless, excited spirit, which is continually agitating the mind of those who are in the world as the winds ruffle the unstable ocean.
(W. W. Champneys, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But godliness with contentment is great gain.