But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:6-10, NIV
What is the sum of your material earthly possessions? For some, the number may be significant while for others, the total of what they own is more modest. According to the millionaire, Malcolm Forbes, ”He who dies with the most toys wins.” As I was researching this quote, I read this: “‘He who dies with the most toys wins.’ But, he still dies!” So, my question is, when he dies, what, in fact, does he win?
In my later years, I am discovering that what I desire more than anything else in this world is contentment. What exactly is contentment? How does it look? The dictionary definition tells us it is “satisfaction, gratification, fulfillment, happiness, pleasure, cheerfulness; ease, comfort, well-being, peace, equanimity, serenity, tranquility.” Knowing what it is, now, how do we achieve it? In striving for it, contentment seems to become elusive. Shouldn’t acceptance then, rather than striving, be what constitutes well-being, peace and happiness?
Life is a vacuum of time you and I have been given the privilege to fill. We may not always be in control of the circumstances within that vacuum but how we react to them is well within our grasp. Our world is not a perfect environment. Ever since the Garden of Eden, mankind has managed to find the road to temptation almost irresistible. We don’t need a GPS to get there. What I believe Timothy is saying, is that the temptation of longing for and pursuing the acquisition of earthly “things,” inherently robs us of contentment, which we long for even more. Also, the pursuit is costly of our time, energy and holds no lasting or eternal value. Living becomes an exercise in futility and emptiness. The desire “to have” is insatiable. The acquisition of “toys” does not satisfy.
What is it you believe that if you possessed “it” would bring lasting happiness? If it is something tangible you can hold in your hands, it is fleeting and subject to the “shelf-life” of our earthly location. Consider the continuing words of Timothy, chapter 6. “…flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith…be rich in good deeds, and be generous and willing to share. In this way [you] will lay up treasure for [yourselves] as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that [you] may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
It is impossible to take anything with us when we leave this world. When that day comes, as it surely will for all of us, “winning” will be constituted, not by what we have stored up but rather by what we have been willing to give up to make the world a better place for having been here.