What Contentment is Not!

Text: 1 Timothy 6:1-10; Psalm 145:7-21

Verses 6-8:But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”

The word godliness signifies true Christianity, and contentment is a sufficiency or a portion of the secular things in life which are necessary for our support. This is not speaking of what we might think to be sufficient to meet our needs. According to these verses, if we have Christ to meet our needs of food and raiment, we have great gain. Contentment is a state of mind or a satisfied feeling of freedom from complaining. In other words, if we have Christ who gives us peace of heart and mind, then we are regarded as being truly rich.

Proverbs 15:16: Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.”

Someone said, “It requires but little of this world’s goods to satisfy a man who feels himself to be a citizen of another country and knows that this is not his rest.”

Spurgeon said, “It makes us truly happy by making our little into much and sweetening all the trials of life.  Poor and content is rich, and rich enough.”

All of us know Christians who are unhappy, and in some cases, it may even be understandable. First, notice what contentment is not:

  • Contentment is not concern over what God has already promised in Matthew 6:25-34.
  • Contentment is not complaining about what we do not have.

1 Corinthians 10:10, “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

  • Contentment is not covetousness of what you cannot afford.

Hebrews 13:5: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

  • Contentment is not craving (envying) things others have.

James 3:16, For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

Where envying and strife is everything is unsettled and uptight, and there is no common confidence; there is no drawing together of direction and effort; there is no cooperation in encouraging a common goal; there is no stability in any plan. There may be something good started by one person and defeated by another.

And every evil work. No one that has seen the effects of this on a family or church will have any doubt that where a spirit of strife prevails there is disharmony because love and harmony are driven out; all happiness disappears; all prosperity comes to an end.

In a place where peace ought to prevail, there springs up every evil passion that tends to spoil the peace of a family, a church, or even a nation. Where this spirit prevails, it is impossible to expect any progress in spiritual things, and it will make any effort to do well vain.

Someone said, “The Spirit, like a peaceful dove, flies from the realms of noise and strife.”

We also know that if a Christian loves the world, discontentment will surely come.

  • The Bible teaches that we are to be therewith content.
  • We are to follow after righteousness, verse 11-12.
  • We are to exhort the rich of the world, verses 17-19.

The rich need help just as much as the poor among us; they, too, need God’s grace. There are many examples of unhappiness in riches. One need only look at some of the rich people in the world to be convinced of this fact. For example, look at some of the movie stars, music, and rock stars, as well as athletes constantly displaying their discontentment.

Much of the world is trying to find happiness in immorality, drugs, alcohol, excess, money, power, or reality TV. 

In Part 2, we will look at what contentment is.


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Hans Nikoley, GSBC Professor

Bro. Nikoley emigrated from Germany to the United States with his family at age 13. He served full time in the Nevada Air National Guard for six years. At age 32, He was saved, and in 1977, he graduated from Bible College. He pastored for over 31 years, 27 of them at Pomerado Road Baptist Church in Poway, California. Bro. Nikoley has served at Golden State Baptist College in the Bible Department and also as the Student Employment Director since 2007. He and his wife Mary have two children and have been married for 58 years.