Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we need You to re-remind us what’s really important, vital, and valuable for our lives. We need an added dose of Your forgiveness and holiness along with an ongoing appreciation of every blessing—from the biggest to the smallest. Armed with all those spiritual weapons we can actively live blessed lives. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, FROM WHOM COMES EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT!
TEXT: I Tim. 6: 6-8
Dearly Beloved by Christ:
Remember those little cartoons from years past where some seeker of truth laboriously trekked up on a mountain cliff to ask some guru: “What’s the meaning of life?” The guru always had some amusing answer which stated the obvious.—“It is to eat well, my son.” Or, “It is a good night’s sleep.” Or, “It is to spend your life in living and not searching.”
So, how would you answer that question: “What’s the meaning of life?” Well, before you provide your answer you need to listen closely to our lesson. For in it, St. Paul gives God’s answer to the:
THE SECRET TO A GREAT LIFE
St. Paul begins by really stating the obvious. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” And then he enlarges on it. “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.” On the surface this all seems rather self-explanatory. But, let’s dissect Paul’s words and in the process flesh out The Secret To A Great Life.
First off, what is godliness? Is it simply belief in a higher power? It is acting morally upright, or at least trying to do so? Is it going through the motions of religion—praying, worshiping, and praising God? Is it thinking a lot about heaven and the afterlife? No, being truly godly centers upon being right with God. It is all about your relationship with Him. But, since we’re imperfect sinners, isn’t it impossible for us to achieve rightness with God all on our own?—Yes! Our attempts at godliness always fall sort. That’s why God had to step into this void and make us right with Him through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. As Paul writes in Romans: “But now a righteousness from God has been made known. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”
Just as rightness with God, also know to us as the forgiveness of sins, is God’s gift to us; so, too, is the faith in our hearts which grasps this gift. So, true godliness centers upon Jesus and all He’s done for us. True godliness already belongs to each and every believer. So, why is it that many believers, indeed all of us, fail to have a great life at times? Why is it that we feel frustrated with life, have moments of unhappiness, and often wish we were someplace else doing something else? Well, the answer is found in these words: “with contentment.”
Godliness and contentment should go hand in hand. And when they do, as Paul says: “We have great gain.” But often we separate the two, don’t we?
There are two basic mindsets you will find among all people. Some are results oriented and others are process driven. That is, some people are all about results, the bottom line, completing a project as soon as possible in order to move on to something else. They are content and happy when whatever they are doing is finished. Meanwhile, while they are actually engaged in getting it done, they are edgy, uptight, and frustrated. That is, they hate the process necessary to achieve their goal. When I was a boy and would put together model ships. I wanted the project to be over as soon as possible. I wanted the model completed. So, I wouldn’t follow the directions on the box. Instead, I’d snap pieces together and hurriedly glue them. Then I would paint the model after I had assembled it. Voila! I soon had my end result in cut time because I had circumvented the correct process. But, alas, my models never quite looked as good as the one on the box because I was in too big a hurry!
When you’re result-driven you find yourself wishing away your life. The daily process becomes a grind which is intermittently broken up by some sort of achieved goal. Those “goal moments” or “result moments” give you contentment for a bit. But they are very short next to the long hours of labor, or process, needed to achieve them.
Sometimes you meet people who are more process driven than result driven. I’ll bet you have a neighbor who always seems to be remodeling his house and never really gets it done. They live for months, or years, all torn up. Yet, they seem happy and content. How can this be? Perhaps they love the process of doing the work more than basking in the end result?
As Godly believers we find both process and result concepts impacting our lives of faith. Sometimes we focus primarily on the result of believing in Christ, which is heaven. We long for heaven. We almost obsess about it—especially when tough times come our way here on earth. It’s almost an escapism mindset. But, in the process of doing that, we fail to appreciate each day and fail to savor each task God lays before us. The result is: we miss out on a whole lot of contentment.
At other times we can find ourselves so immersed in living out our faith, worshiping, doing for others, praying, engaging in the whole panoply of sanctification that we lose track of the ultimate goal behind it all: the heavenly result.
The fact of the matter is: process and result should always go hand-in hand when it comes to our faith. We should never lose sight of heaven and never fail to live in each moment God gives us during the process of getting there. But, of course, that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?
How can any of us achieve contentment to go along with our godliness? The answer is: by embracing the process and never losing sight of the result. Mowing the church lawn takes a good 3 to 4 hours. It’s laborious, but it looks nice when it’s all done. I used to mow it with an invisible clock in my head ticking off the time expended. When I finished I’d proudly look over my work and only then was I content. However, I’ve learned to do otherwise. Now I try to savor each step and to just enjoy the work of doing it—embracing the process. As a result, I’ve gained 3 to 4 hours of contentment!
The same holds true with painting the house, doing housework, driving to work, laboring on a presentation, hauling the kids around, or just lounging in your easy chair. The Bible says: “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” We could paraphrase that passage to say: “This is the moment in time the Lord has given to you, don’t waste it or wish it away as it will never come again.”
True joy in life comes from both the doing and the finished product. Both have their special joys. And when both are embraced, ongoing contentment reigns in your life. That’s because as a believer you know that you’ve acted on the godliness that Christ has bestowed. We cannot take houses, money, or possessions with us when we go to heaven. We take only our faith in Christ. We take our good works of daily service born of that faith. And the final result of such godly contentment is that we get to hear Christ say directly to us: “Well done! Thou good and faithful servant!” So, The Secret To A Great Life is: godliness with contentment. Amen
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH….
Pastor Thomas H. Fox