But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6
We work and earn money that we might purchase some things that we believe will make us more content, that will meet our needs, provide a more comfortable lifestyle, or entertain us for a season. Yet whatever contentment we find through materialism wears off quickly and no matter what we have purchased we will want a bigger house, a nicer car, a finer suit of clothes, or go on more extravagant vacations. We set our eyes on what our neighbor has and desire that thing more than any other and we measure all our successes in life from that standard, a standard that is hopelessly compromised by both the instability of our neighbor’s lifestyle and our own moods and feelings.
But more to the point, the human heart was not created to operate this way – we were made for greater things – the things of God. “Godliness,” comes from the Greek word eusebeia, meaning “to worship well,” and is found several times throughout the letter to Timothy. Paul used the word in 4:7 to sum up all that a believer in Christ is to become by the presence and power of the Spirit. He said to Timothy, “Exercise yourself to godliness,” which in Greek used the word gymnaze, from which we get our word “gymnasium.” The idea is to work out what God is working in, to put these things to practice through devotion, meditation, contemplation, study, and servanthood, particularly helping others.
Just as our minds were made to fellowship with God, so our bodies were made to serve God, and we find true satisfaction in life by knowing Him and serving Him. It is a truly sad sight to see a person blessed by God that is incapable of being truly grateful. He has a wonderful wife, a good job, a full stomach, several children, friends, and not to mention the grace of God in Christ, yet he focuses on what he dislikes, becomes disgruntled and generally hard to live with. He never truly helps others and is increasingly miserable – all his work is of no gain to his heart. But if that person could know God, could see the work of Christ for him, could see the provisions of God for his life, could see the promises of companionship and love that the Spirit will pour into his heart now and for eternity – if the man could see that then he would have true gain!
The word “contentment” referred to an attitude that is the opposite from materialism. In the context it referred to the way materialism draws our hearts toward possessions – but leaving us unfulfilled all the same, never feeling as though we have enough, always wanting more. But it there is no reason to limit its meaning only to material possessions, or earthly power or popularity. We might also consider the meaning is about our place in the work of God, meaning to be content with our gifts, our opportunities, and our contributions.
In exercising ourselves to godliness, we will desire to serve God more fervently and to see more things accomplished for His glory, to see more trust Him as Savior, to see more give their lives to His Lordship. In that sense, we should never be content with the response of this fallen world, for there are always more who need to hear the gospel. Paul even went so far to say that to serve as a bishop (an overseer) is a worthy ambition, or desires to do a good work (3:1). But there is also the danger of getting caught up in competing for church positions, rather than seeking to be the servant of all.
To worship well means to desire the glory of God more than anything else, and to discipline ourselves in our dedication and devotion to Him. That is the true joy of life and the joy of eternity.
Lord, create in us a hunger for You, for Your truth, for Your glory. Show us how we should be truly grateful for Your provisions. Lead us away from the trapping of materialism and to be content with what we have. Amen.
 1 Timothy 2:2; 4:7,8; 6:3,5,6