In one of the earliest episodes of Beverly Hillbillies cousin Pearl is trying to convince Jed that he should move out of his little cabin in the hills. “Jed, how can ya even ask? You’re 8 miles from your nearest neighbor; you’re overrun with skunks and possum and coyotes and bobcats; ya use kerosene lamps for light; ya cook on a wood stove summer and winter; your drinkin’ homemade moonshine; washin’ with homemade lye soap; and yer bathroom is 50 feet from the house and you ask should you move?!” Jed reflects for a moment and then quietly drawls, “Ya, I reckon yer right . . . a man’d be a dang fool to leave all this.”
There’s a lesson in there that reflects what Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 6:6. “Godliness with contentment is of great gain.” He goes on to say that people whose primary goal in life is to get rich run right into a trap that sets them up for spiritual disaster. The question is how to get what I need to make a living without falling into the trap of chasing after money and accumulating stuff.
The key is in the words “godliness” and “contentment.” Godliness is less about behavior and more about a desire, passion and adoration for Jesus who died for your sin. Contentment describes an internal strength from God that equips you to be sufficient to face any circumstance. Pursuing godliness develops contentment.
Paul goes on to describe what contentment looks like: being generous and sharing what you have with others in need. The description here is of fostering community where the focus is on giving and generosity rather than craving and consuming.
Don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with being wealthy. (Which includes the vast majority of us when viewed on a global scale.) In fact right in this very passage Paul says that God intends that we enjoy the things he has blessed us with. But the way to get the most enjoyment from it is to share it with others.
Don’t believe me? Then let me give you a challenge that will prove my point. In this next week I want you to look for an opportunity to give something of yours away. It doesn’t have to be anything major, but it should be to someone who has a genuine need and who would be unable to pay you back. In fact ideally they shouldn’t even know who it came from.
You’re going to be surprised at how much fun it is.
When you pursue godliness you will develop contentment that is expressed in a generous and giving way of life. To paraphrase Jed Clampitt, “a man’d be a dang fool to not want all that.”