But godliness with contentment is great gain - The word godliness, ευσεβεια, here, and in several other places of this epistle, signifies the true religion, Christianity; and the word contentment, αυταρκεια, signifies a competency, a sufficiency; that measure or portion of secular things which is necessary for the support of life, while the great work of regeneration is carrying on in the soul. Not what this or the other person may deem a competency, but what is necessary for the mere purposes of life in reference to another world; food, raiment, and lodging. See 1 Timothy 6:7. So, if a man have the life of God in his soul, and just a sufficiency of food and raiment to preserve and not burden life, he has what God calls great gain, an abundant portion.
It requires but little of this world's goods to satisfy a man who feels himself to be a citizen of another country, and knows that this is not his rest.
But godliness - Piety; religion. The meaning is, that real religion should be regarded as the greatest and most valuable acquisition. “With contentment.” This word, as now used, refers to a state of mind; a calm and satisfied feeling; a freedom from murmuring and complaining. The idea is, that “piety, connected with a contented mind - or a mind acquiescing in the allotments of life - is to be regarded as the real gain.” Tyndale gives substantially the same interpretation: “Godliness is great riches, if a man be content with that he hath” Coverdale: “Howbeit, it is of great advantage, who is so godly, and holdeth him content with that he hath.” The word which is used here - αὐτάρκεια autarkeia- means, properly, “self-sufficency,” and is used here, in a good sense, to denote a mind satisfied with its lot. If there be true religion, united with its proper accompaniment, peace of mind, it is to be regarded as the true riches. The object of the apostle seems to be, to rebuke those who supposed that property constituted everything that was worth living for. He tells them, therefore, that the true gain, the real riches which we ought to seek, is religion, with a contented mind. This does more to promote happiness than wealth can ever do, and this is what should be regarded as the great object of life.
The principle of the cross of Christ brings all who believe under heavy obligations to deny self, to impart light to others, and to give of their means to extend the light. If they are in connection with heaven they will be engaged in the work in harmony with the angels. 3T 382.1
The principle of worldlings is to get all they can of the perishable things of this life. Selfish love of gain is the ruling principle in their lives. But the purest joy is not found in riches nor where covetousness is always craving, but where contentment reigns and where self-sacrificing love is the ruling principle. There are thousands who are passing their lives in indulgence and whose hearts are filled with repining. They are victims of selfishness and discontent in the vain effort to satisfy their minds with indulgence. But unhappiness is stamped upon their very countenances, and behind them is a desert, because their course is not fruitful in good works. 3T 382.2
In proportion as the love of Christ fills our hearts and controls our lives, covetousness, selfishness, and love of ease will be overcome, and it will be our pleasure to do the will of Christ, whose servants we claim to be. Our happiness will then be proportionate to our unselfish works, prompted by the love of Christ. 3T 382.3Read in context »
In the case of Sister Hannah More, I was shown that the neglect of her was the neglect of Jesus in her person. Had the Son of God come in the humble, unpretending manner in which He journeyed from place to place when He was upon earth, He would have met with no better reception. It is the deep principle of love that dwelt in the bosom of the humble Man of Calvary that is needed. Had the church lived in the light, they would have appreciated this humble missionary whose whole being was aglow to be engaged in her Master's service. Her very earnest interest was misconstrued. Her externals were not just such as would meet the approval of the eye of taste and fashion, for familiarity with strict economy and poverty had left its impress upon her apparel. Her hard-earned means had been exhausted as fast as obtained to benefit others, to get light to those whom she hoped to lead to the cross of truth. 2T 140.1Read in context »
These are often the very ones who are deceived by those sharp, shrewd peddlers of patent rights whose success depends upon the art of deception. These should learn that no confidence whatever can be put in such peddlers. But the brethren are credulous in regard to the very things they should suspect and shun. They do not take home the instruction of Paul to Timothy: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” Let not the poor think that the rich are the only covetous ones. While the rich hold what they have with a covetous grasp, and seek to obtain still more, the poor are in great danger of coveting the rich man's wealth. There are very few in our land of plenty who are really so poor as to need help. If they would pursue a right course, they could in almost every case be above want. My appeal to the rich is, Deal liberally with your poor brethren, and use your means to advance the cause of God. The worthy poor, those who are made poor by misfortune and sickness, deserve your special care and help. “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.” 1T 481.1
Men and women professing godliness and expecting translation to heaven without seeing death, I warn you to be less greedy of gain, less self-caring. Redeem your godlike manhood, your noble womanhood, by noble acts of disinterested benevolence. Heartily despise your former avaricious spirit and regain true nobility of soul. From what God has shown me, unless you zealously repent, Christ will spew you out of His mouth. Sabbathkeeping Adventists profess to be followers of Christ, but the works of many of them belie their profession. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” “Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.” 1T 482.1
I appeal to all who profess to believe the truth, to consider the character and life of the Son of God. He is our example. His life was marked with disinterested benevolence. He was ever touched with human woe. He went about doing good. There was not one selfish act in all His life. His love for the fallen race, His desire to save them, was so great that He took upon Himself the wrath of His Father, and consented to suffer the penalty of that transgression which plunged guilty man in degradation. He bore the sins of man in His own body. “He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 1T 482.2Read in context »
Dear Brother and Sister [Sawyer],
In the night I seemed to be conversing with you, and saying, The lesson you need to learn is to be restful in the Lord. If you encourage a spirit of uneasiness and discontent, you will mar your religious experience. RY 68.1Read in context »