Monday, February 09, 2009

The Godliness, Contentment and Great Gain Paradigm

This week at church - or rather this month - we've been talking about generosity. This week's message was about financial freedom and it was a very powerful message as the burden of debt is something that I've struggled with all my life. Our pastor brought up a passage from 1 Timothy and amidst Paul's teachings about money he states,

"Godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Timothy 6:6 NIV

It was pointed out that this verse acts as an equation of sorts in that
Godliness + Contentment = Great Gain
but in the culture of the world we often place things backwards and believe that
Godliness + Great Gain = Contentment
Instead of allowing God's presence and our own peace of mind to define wealthy, we believe that the presence of God along with the fulfillment of material desires will bring us peace of mind.

I agree that all of that is true, but in my mind I took the process one step further. I think in our consumer driven world, we often hold to the view that
Great Gain + Contentment = Godliness
Instead of clinging to God and choosing contentment, we hold up a false picture of who we idolize. It is those people who seem to have it all and - in our minds at least - are the epitome of happy, that we hold up and worship as our ideal. It is the celebrities with fancy houses; the Bill Gates types with huge salaries; the lottery winners with effortless incomes - in many ways they are what we want to be, they are our image of God.

Everyone says that money can't buy happiness and yet so few live as though they truly believe that. I know I don't, and I fall prey to the trap of wanting more than I need and believing that if I just had.... I could really be happy. It reminds me of the Jennifer Knapp song in which she laments,

"And though I'm rich, I claim that I'm poor.
Crying over earthly things I know I can't afford,
But He who died is greater than these.
I should be thankful and praying on my knees."
~Jennifer Knapp, "All Consuming Fire"

So there's my goal for now. Giving up on senseless wants and instead focusing on what I really need in my life - God's presence and opportunities to share His love with the world.

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