In our narcissistic and materialistic culture, greed, selfishness, and individualism are constant struggles. We are always tempted to think of ourselves and our welfare first, oftentimes at the exclusion and expense of others. Many people think of themselves first with little concern for the well-being of their neighbors.
This is not the way it should be. This is contrary to the principle of life set by the Lord in Scripture. Although godliness, which is the fear of the Lord resulting in loving God and caring for others, is a rare virtue, yet every child of God and disciple of Christ must strive for it.
Godliness is a virtue that seeks the glory of God above all else and the good of others. It is a by-product of our union with Christ through faith. God the Holy Spirit causes the fruit of godliness to bear in our lives as we live obediently to the will of our heavenly Father.
Together with joyful trust in the providence of God, a godly person’s life testifies to the power of God’s grace working in him by thinking not only his own need but also the needs of others.
The same life of godliness brings glory to the Father who takes care of the needs of His children. No wonder the word of God bears witness that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).
In his exposition on godliness and contentment, the late Jerry Bridges said, “Contentment is one of the most distinguishing traits of the godly person, because godly person has his heart focused on God rather than on possessions or position or power….”
“The contented person,” Bridges added, “experiences the sufficiency of God’s ‘provision’ for his needs and the sufficiency of God’s ‘grace’ for his circumstances….Discontent is one of the most satanic of all sins, and to indulge in it is to rebel against God just as Satan did….
“It may be true that God’s judgment upon covetousness and discontentment is not as severe or obvious in our day as it was in the days of Achan, Gehazi, and Ananias and Sapphira. Yet God’s ‘attitude’ toward discontentment has not changed, and the spiritual danger of loving the things of this world is far more serious than the judgment of a dreaded disease or an untimely death.”
Bridges added saying, “[The apostle] John says very plainly that if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. In other words, he is not a Christian! John makes it clear that a craving for possessions is being in love with the world” (Jerry Bridges, The Practice of Godliness, 85-86).
These are heavy words from Jerry Bridges but they are real medicine to my soul that is prone to love this world and the things in it and to wander from my Lord and my King.
Godliness with contentment may not be hard to practice when everything in life is doing well and our need is well provided. When we see our cupboard or refrigerator is full and everyone in the family is healthy, obeying God may not be a burden.
But when crisis strikes or you’re laid off from work and you need to pay for house rent or utilities, it’s hard to practice godliness. Without the grace of God and a strong grip of His sovereignty and providence, we could easily fall into the trap of greed, fear or worry.
Rev. Vic Bernales is an ordained minister in the Pearl of the Orient Covenant Reformed Church. He pastors the Davao Covenant Reformed Church in Davao City, Philippines. He earned his Master of Divinity at Mid-America Reformed Seminary at Dyer, Indiana, U.S.A