The Choice Is Yours

Let’s conclude our consideration of contentment with advice from an older pastor to his younger apprentice. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, warning about the dangers of discontentment. The younger pastor served in Ephesus, an ancient city whose economy thrived on the practice of magic and divination, and whose commerce depended upon the influx of pilgrim money to the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven ancient wonders. Money abounded for anyone willing to compromise his or her integrity. Look at these words of Paul very carefully, as if you are reading them for the first time.

Godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. (1 Timothy 6:6–10, 17–19)

Note that Paul did not condemn money as evil or even suggest that all rich people should get rid of their wealth. Money isn’t the problem, and wealth isn’t evil. I’ve observed that poor people can be more materialistic than a billionaire, and rich people can accomplish great good with their money. The heart holds the key to keeping material possessions in proper perspective. That key is choosing contentment.

Paul cultivated a contented spirit in three specific ways. First, he actively looked for God’s working in every circumstance (Philippians 1:12–14). Second, he thanked God for what he had rather than complaining about what he lacked (1:3, 7; 4:11–12). Third, he treasured relationships above material provisions (4:17).

From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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