When You Are Not Happy Where You Are Right Now
…Godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6
An eminent psychologist, Joseph Kreisler, recognized the importance of contentment from having observed problems of human nature from a professional viewpoint. Dr. Kreisler says, “If you wish to be miserable, think about yourself and what you want, what you like, what attention other people ought to pay you, and then you will find nothing will satisfy you. You will spoil everything you touch, and finally, you will make pain and misery out of everything God sent you.”
“Godliness with contentment,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “is great gain.” Those words of advice were spoken by a battle-hardened veteran to a young soldier whose name was Timothy. Timothy really wasn’t a soldier in the sense of being a man who bears arms for his country, but he was in the sense of having begun a spiritual battle, one that had engaged his mentor, Paul, for most of his adult life.
The point is you can be as content as you please, and thus as happy as you choose, or as miserable and frustrated as you please. You are the one who really decides.
Paul is not alone when it comes to advising that contentment is great gain. Christ told soldiers that they were to be faithful to their government and to be content with their wages, which was also quoted by Paul. Early Christians were instructed to “be content with such things as you have.” But it was the old warrior, Paul, who had the most to say about contentment. “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment (or clothing) let us therewith be content.” To the Philippians Paul wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.”
Just what kind of a man was this man who had learned the value of contentment? Was he a rather laid-back fellow who spent his life in indolence and ease? Or, had he learned, rather, that the constant pursuit of gain leaves you frustrated and miserable?
First, Paul was a brilliant intellectual who grew up in the university city of Tarsus. Whether or not he received his early education in that city is uncertain, but we do know that he went to Jerusalem. In the tradition of the great Rabbis, he studied under the master teacher, Gamaliel. As a zealous young Rabbi, he was the archrival of the church–going out of his way to make life miserable for the fanatics who followed this Jesus of Nazareth. Then Paul met Christ on the road to Damascus. That encounter changed his life.
For the next thirty years Paul became the great champion and literary giant of Christendom. The spiritual battles that he fought gave him insight into life and what it takes to produce happiness. That is why Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
You can be content without God–at least, to a degree; but a person who has really found God will discover a far deeper measure of contentment because contentment is not a destination, it is something you stumble over in the will of God. Question: How content are you? Are you frustrated, perhaps angry, all worked up trying to get to the next stop when you are not happy where you are right now?
The man who wrote, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content” was a man who had been shipwrecked three times; he had been given the forty-stripes-save-one treatment and five times a beating so brutal that often a man died under it. He had walked across most of Asia Minor. He had no assured income or pension plan, yet he had no worries about security or position. If he could be content, so can you.