How many minutes have gone by since you saw your last advertisement? These appeals have become so much a part of our life that we barely notice them. They appear on television, our phones, and our emails, encouraging us to buy more than we can afford. How can we practice the joy of contentment?
In today’s reading, Paul gives some final warning against false teachers. These people, who do not “agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ,” are arrogant, ignorant, and create controversy resulting in “envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people” (vv. 3–4). But even worse, these false teachers had a false view of wealth and money.
Paul encourages Christians to view wealth differently. We must recognize that godliness does not lead to financial gain, but to contentment (v. 6). Paul reminds us that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (v. 7). In other words, material wealth does not have eternal value. This raises the question for a Christian: How much is enough?
Paul’s standard for contentment was pretty low: food and clothing (v. 8). It is likely that Paul looked to Jesus as his model (Matt. 6:25–34). Paul was not saying that every Christian should only have the bare minimum. What he was saying is that wealth beyond the basic necessities does not lead to more contentment. In fact, a desire for wealth can lead to a ruined life (v. 9). There is a real danger in the pursuit of more. Paul closes this section with the warning that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (v. 10). It can lead us down a road that ends in “many griefs” (v. 10).
>> Christians are not immune to pursuing a life motivated by greed. Take a moment and evaluate your own life. What is your attitude toward money and wealth? What are you living for? How can you learn to be content with what you have?