Taken from DiscipleGuide’s Pathways Daily Devotionals book
Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:6-8
When I was a child, a milk company advertised that their milk came from “contented” cows. At the time it did not occur to me what this meant. This was a long time before animal rights activists reacted strongly to some of the ways animals are treated. I never heard anyone discuss what the cow’s contentment had to do with the quality of their milk. But it sounded good and there may have been a difference.
While I know little about cows, I know a bit about being a Christian and contentment. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is a good one — be satisfied with what you have. That does not mean one shouldn’t have ambition. Jesus exhorted the stewards to invest their talents. He commended those who gained while he condemned the one-talent man who hid his talent. Jesus’ words contradict the idea that one is not to have ambition.
But Paul knew that one’s ability to be content does not depend on what one has. Look at Hollywood or at our sports figures. They seemingly have it all — riches, glamor, beauty, recognition, money — but many of their lives are in shambles.
He also knew that godliness and contentment were two sides of the same coin. It seems contradictory to talk about godliness without talking about contentment. Paul was encouraging Timothy not to put his confidence in material things. When one leaves this world, one takes nothing. What a person owns at that point is meaningless. All money and preferences are left behind. Two men were observing the funeral procession of a very wealthy man. One asked the other, “How much did he leave behind?” The other replied, “All of it.”
Paul was warning Timothy not to make the pursuit of things the object of one’s life. Such a goal as that will lead to discontent. A friend of mine, who is a farmer, recently discovered this truth. At present he has two full-time workers, one part-time worker, and 1500 acres of dry land cotton. He has discovered he can make a decent living with 500 acres of land, one part-time worker and fewer pieces of expensive equipment. He will also have a lot less responsibility and more time off. Trying to be “Mr. Big” and making the pursuit of possessions the main issue of life can lead to frustration. Paul warned Timothy of that danger.
The trouble with accumulating possessions is that there is never a quitting place. There is rarely enough. The ability to make so much money often leads persons to believe there is more out there to be claimed. People become trapped in the pursuit of worldly goods and find there is hardly a way out. Perhaps that is why Jesus encouraged the rich young ruler to give all his possessions to the poor and then come and follow Christ.
Paul also meant for Timothy to put his priorities in the right place. God needed to be in first place. When we allow God His rightful place, all the things we need will be added to our lives.
There is little contentment in things. While we need certain things to live in this world, if the pursuit of those things becomes our priority, the truly important issues of life will be out of balance. If your house were on fire, would you risk your life to salvage a few material possessions? With our spiritual welfare at stake, will we risk our spiritual health for a few of this world’s goods? What possessions are we willing to put before our own spiritual well being? Paul advised Timothy not to allow anything of this world to stand in the way of his contentment.