There is a very popular and common phrase that we hear from time to time that was actually a part of one of our scripture readings this morning. What we commonly hear is, “Money is the root of all evil.” I’m sure you have all heard that said from time to time. Keeping those words in mind, “Money is the root of all evil,” did you by chance notice anything of interest when you heard that scripture read this morning?
Let me read that familiar quote to you again this time from the scripture and not the familiar street version. From the Revised Standard Version, I Timothy 5:10 “For the LOVE of money is the root of all evils.” Note the word ‘Love’. Now I want to first point out that there are variations to this scripture. One such variation claims that a more accurate rendering should be, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evils.” It is difficult to think that THE LOVE OF MONEY is what causes EVERY evil. It is better to think that money is the cause of all kinds of evil.
But apart from all of that, the emphasis of this scripture should fall on the word LOVE. Interestingly enough, that is the word that is excluded from the street version of this scripture. It says, “Money is the root…” whereas scripture says “the LOVE of money…” That one single little word is what makes all the difference.
Why is that? Think about this. Love is an internal feeling. Money is an external object. The relevance of saying this is very important to the understanding of scripture. Internal and external. Money in itself is not a problem. We all need money to live. That is an established fact. But, money is an object of external value.
But when the scripture states, “The Love of money..” we have taken this scripture from something of OBJECT and EXTERNAL to something of FEELING and EMOTION and made it INTERNAL.
Now with all of this in mind let’s move on to 1 Timothy 6:6. This is a great scripture. It says so much when we really take time to look at it.
There is great gain in godliness with contentment.
Now thinking in terms of internal and external we discover that this short scripture verse is ALL internal. It has to do with Godliness and contentment. These are both Internal feelings.
In other words, both Godliness AND contentment have to do with internal feels. In contrast, love and money include inward feelings for an external object. The problem being this inward feeling is not of a Godly nature. All of this may be a little difficult to follow and understand so let’s go back to that simple little scripture, “There is great gain in Godliness with contentment.” The first thing we really need to understand is this: What does CONTENTMENT really mean.
Looking at the meaning of the word actually may make the entire issue even more difficult to understand for it first defines itself with the same word we are trying to define. According to Webster contentment means the fact of being contented. No help there. BUT it also means, “being satisfied.” But this definition does not in any way add to our understanding of how contentment and Godliness work together.
So let’s look at another meaning other than Webster. The original Greek language has something of interest to help us understand the word contentment. Now you need to follow this all the way through in order to understand. According to Greek understanding, the word contentment means self-sufficient, and, in need of no other people or thing. This is the Greek understanding of contentment but it certainly in no way implies any relationship to Godliness or dependency on God. The Greek meaning implies we need no one or anything else.
But this is the wisdom of God’s inspiration to Paul as he writes his letter to Timothy. In His wisdom God not only explains Godly contentment but at the same time brings us to an awareness of where we as Christians should be putting our dependency. You see, we as Christian are self sufficient in knowing that our God provides our sufficiency through His abundance. We can say we are self sufficient but not in ourselves, we are dependent upon God.
It is interesting to note how the Greek definition claims that contentment means a person is self sufficient and dependent upon no one and then the Apostle Paul describes Christian contentment as having GAIN in Godliness.
What this is really explaining is how we, as Christians, are not independent nor separated from God and Jesus Christ but are one with them. Therefore, our contentment is found in whatever God provides. Our contentment isn’t based upon what we want or desire, it is strictly a matter of accepting and and being content with what we have been given.
There is great gain in truly being content in God and what He allows us to have. That isn’t always easy. There are times we may desire something even want something.
In all of this the Apostle Paul is trying to explain to us that possessions are external things and do not make up who or what we are. Our Godliness is not found in what we have, it is found in the fact that what and who we are is really defined in where we put our trust for dependency.
The Apostle Paul reveals this Godly, internal, spiritual quality in his own life when he reflects upon what he had in life and what he had not. Paul reflects:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in what ever state I am, to be content. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11
Paul was probably also well aware of the words of both Soloman and Job when they reflected as to “How the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” And in spite of losing absolutely everything Job was still able to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Here is true GODLINESS IN CONTENTMENT.
Paul explained how those who have great internal passions for external goods and possessions fall into temptation and a snare. A snare being something we get caught up in and cannot escape from. Many people in and attempt to have more seek increase through gambling and become addicted. Other people in order to have more simply go out and steal. Some are driven gain more and more.
Paul is explaining to us that in true Godly contentment, this contentment is not affected by anything external, but it is driven by only internal feelings that are Godly for intent. It then is only internal Godly initiatives that drive our desires.
For the true, practicing Christian, “There is great gain in Godliness with contentment.” In this we prove our trust in Him.