October 14, 2001: Back to the Basics

Let us pray: Dear Savior, we have received countless blessings from Your gracious hand. We have health, families who love us, clothing, shelter, heat, lights, food, jobs, and most of all Your forgiveness for when we take these blessings for granted. Today we ask You to refocus our attention on what is truly vital and important in our lives and to appreciate Your goodness. Amen
TEXT: I Tim. 6: 6-16

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

When I was a little boy I loved to put together model ships. Like most little boys I was very impetuous, too. I would buy a new model, rip open the box when I got home, quickly get out the tube of glue and hurriedly set about putting the pieces together. Of course, when I was finished there were usually a couple of extra pieces-for I didn’t take the time to consult the directions. Also, the directions always said to paint it first-before cementing it in place-but I failed to heed those, too. So I had to paint it after the fact, and it looked like it. Yes, my fatal flaw was that I didn’t get “back to the basics.”

You cannot build a house that will stand before you learn to use power tools. You cannot do successful surgery before you go to medical school. You cannot do calculus before you first learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide. You cannot write a book before learning to read. And you cannot be a happy, well-adjusted person who knows true contentment unless and until you get to know Jesus Christ.

Our lesson today speaks volumes to a society in which people are searching for real meaning and fulfillment in their lives. And in it St. Paul reminds us that we need to get:


A little over one month ago America was changed. Lives were lost, families were fractured, and people everywhere started asking themselves: “Is the rat race and making money really so important after all?” Yes, God used the tragedy of the bombings to get people’s attention, to get us back to the basics. And what are the basics?—Duty, honor, love, family, and courage are but a few concepts that come to mind. These are all intangibles that give our lives meaning and provide us with a sense of worth and happiness. However, to really possess true happiness we also need God. We need to follow His ways and to practice His gift of faith. That is what St. Paul is getting at when he writes: “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.”

Knowing that you’re right with God breeds true inner peace. It breeds contentment. Terrorists cannot really do us eternal harm because Christ has saved our eternal souls. He bought and paid for them on the cross. God’s love for us in Christ is bigger than anything else in this life. For what is weightier and has more value than God giving His life in love to free you from worry over your own personal sins, the dangers of this world, or even your impending death? Yes, when we’re right with God we have His blessing. He have Him watching over us. When we’re right with God we know everything we possess is a blessing, a gift, and we treat it that way in true thankfulness. This is our source of true contentment. It is “great gain,” too. That is, it’s the elusive font of happiness that enables you as a Christian to sleep at night, to get up each morning with a worry-free conscience, and to revel in the blessings of family, friends, health, kindness, and the list could go on and on.


Up until Sept. 11th, many Americans bought into our modern culture of greed. We eagerly ate the forbidden fruit of more, more, more. Life was about “getting ahead,” advancing in our jobs no matter the cost, and accumulating more and more possessions. Modern America preached: “consumerism is the source of contentment.” But then, when confronted with the culture of death many came to question such “wisdom.” They began to realize just how unfulfilled they really were and how bankrupt such an attitude was. St. Paul talked about such attitudes over 1950 years ago when he wrote: “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.”

Judas Iscariot comes to mind as one such person who loved money more than godliness and suffered for it. But, or course, this describes all of our sinful natures, doesn’t it? Society preaches that money means power. Power means security. And security buys happiness. Sept. 11th proved otherwise. Having money doesn’t mean you’ll live forever. It doesn’t mean you’ll sleep worry-free. It doesn’t mean your friends will stick with you after it’s gone. It doesn’t mean people will truly love you and appreciate your uniqueness. Obviously there is nothing wrong with trying to do your best and to get ahead of your bills. Obviously money can and should be viewed as a blessing from God. The problem occurs not when we have money but when we start to love it and trust in it more than in God. That’s when our world crumbles.


We all need to get back to the basics of life if we’re to have true contentment. And now Paul gives us some directions on exactly how to do that. “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called.”

Those are the basics of a happy, fulfilled life-righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. When those concepts predominate in our lives worry dissolves, friends increase, families grow together instead of apart, and our lives become rich and full.

Earlier this week I used this lesson when I visited a couple of our shut-ins. And I reminded those two 90+ year old ladies that because Jesus has poured out His righteousness upon them and given them His love via faith they are richer than 99.9% of the people in the world! They both possess Godliness along with contentment-therefore they have “great gain!” Today, I’m reminding all of you of the exact same truth. So, let’s all hold on to our Godly riches by revisiting those “basics” of contentment and thanking God for them each and every day.