Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Timothy 6:6 - 6:6

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Timothy 6:6 - 6:6

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1Ti_6:6. Godliness with contentment is great gain.

TO the great dishonour of Christianity, there are many professors, and even preachers of it, who are more intent on promoting their own temporal interests, or the interests of their party, than on advancing practical religion in the world. Of such persons St. Paul is speaking in the context: and he enjoins Timothy to withdraw himself from them, as from persons who disgraced the Christian name, by giving reason to people to conclude, that “they supposed gain to be godliness.” In opposition to such characters, the Apostle reverses that which he had stated as their opinion; and declares, that though gain was not godliness, godliness was gain, yea, and “great gain,” if it were joined “with contentment.”

In vindication of this sentiment, we shall shew,

I.       What we are to understand by “godliness”—

The frame of mind which we may conceive the angels to enjoy, would be by no means suited to our state: we are sinners, redeemed sinners; and therefore “godliness” must include such a frame of mind as becomes persons in our condition. In this view, it implies,

1.       An affiance in God through Christ—

[This is the foundation of all true religion. Whatever a man may possess without this, he has not one particle of real godliness. If we could suppose him to be as just and honest, as kind and amiable, yea, as devout and fervent, as ever man was, still, if he had not the heart of a sinner, of a sinner justly condemned, and delivered from condemnation solely by the blood of Christ, he would be utterly destitute of true religion — — —]

2.       A devotedness to God in Christ—

[This must spring from the former: for though faith and practice differ from each other, as much as the root of a tree does from the fruit it hears, yet we must by no means separate them, since they are equally essential to real godliness. A reformation of the external conduct, or a partial surrender of the heart to God, will not suffice: if we would be approved by God, we must have “our whole selves, body, soul, and spirit, sanctified” to his service — — — And as Christ is theonly mediator through whom we approach to God, so must Christ, that is, God in Christ, be our only Lord and Governor.]

When we have just views of the nature of godliness, we shall see,

II.      Its connexion with contentment—

Such godliness as has been described must bring contentment along with it, since all who possess it must feel,

1.       A consciousness that they deserve the miseries of hell—

[No person can have an entire affiance in God through Christ, till he have felt his desert of God’s wrath and indignation. And can such a person be discontented with any lot that may be assigned him? Must he not, even in the most afflicted situation, say, “Shall a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?” Will he not call every affliction light, yea, lightness itself, in comparison of the misery he deserves? Will he not, under the pressure of the heaviest calamities, thank God that he is not in hell?]

2.       A sense of infinite obligation to God for mercies received—

[One who has within him the constituents of real godliness, must see himself to be infinitely indebted to God for the gift of his dear Son, for the knowledge of salvation by him, and for the prospect of everlasting glory. His sense of these mercies cannot but be heightened also by the consideration, that they were never once offered to the fallen angels, nor accepted by the great majority of those to whom they have been offered. Can such an one repine that he has a less measure of health, or riches, or temporal conveniences than others, when he is so far exalted above them in things of infinitely greater moment?]

3.       A willingness to be conformed to the image of Christ—

[No true disciple of Christ expects or wishes to be in a state different from that which his Lord and Master experienced when on earth. But what was the condition of Jesus in the world? Did he live in ease and affluence and honour? No; “he was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” He subsisted oftentimes on the benevolence of his friends and followers; and often had not so much as “a place where to lay his head.” Who that reflects on this, will murmur at his lot, even though nothing but poverty and persecution should await him? Will he not check the first risings of discontent with this obvious reflection, “The disciple cannot be above his Lord: it is sufficient for the disciple that he be as his Lord?”]

The connexion of godliness with contentment being thus plain, let us consider,

III.     The advantage of it as so connected—

St. Paul tells us, that “godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Let us view it then,

1.       In reference to this life—

[Money has obtained the exclusive title of “gain:” but godliness has an incomparably greater right to that appellation. There are three principal ends for which money is considered as valuable; namely, to provide present gratifications, to secure against future troubles, and to benefit our children or dependents. But in these respects it cannot for one moment stand in competition with godliness,—that godliness I mean which is connected with contentment. Suppose money to afford ever such high gratifications, (though it is very much overrated by the generality,) will not pardon of sin, peace of conscience, and the enjoyment of the Divine presence, far outweigh them all? Suppose money to afford effectual relief in trouble, (though it cannot assuage our pain either of mind or body,) what consolations can it afford equal to those which result from godliness and contentment? The utmost that money can do, is to procure some outward relief; whereas the piety above described will convert every cross into a comfort, and every trouble into a fountain of joy. We are ready to acknowledge that money has its uses, and very important uses too, in reference to our children or dependents, (though it not unfrequently is a curse to them rather than a benefit,) yet even in this view is it far inferior to religion: for the godly and contented man will instruct his children and dependents in those principles which he has found so beneficial to himself: and who can duly estimate the benefit of such instructions, confirmed and enforced by such an example? Who can value sufficiently the intercessions of such a friend? Suppose a dying man to address his surviving relatives, ‘I have not wealth laid up for you in my coffers, but I have thousands of prayers treasured up for you in heaven, which, I trust, will come down in blessings on your heads, when I lie mouldering in the dust: I have engaged my God to be the Husband of the widow, and the Father of the fatherless; yes, my dear wife and children, 1 have entreated him to take care of you; and I believe that my prayers have not gone forth in vain:’ I say, such a legacy would be far better than thousands of silver and gold.

Thus in every view for which money is coveted, godliness with contentment is a richer portion.]

2.       In reference to the world to come—

[The blindest worldling in the universe is not foolish enough to think that “riches will profit him in the day of wrath.” In the words following the text this point is established beyond all contradiction; “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out,” Here therefore all competition ceases; and “gain” must be confessed to belong exclusively to the godly and contented mind.]


1.       Those who boast of contentment, while they are destitute of godliness—

[That persons may feel contentment while enjoying all that they can wish, we readily acknowledge. But we have not real contentment, unless we could be contented with any change of circumstances which God might see fit to appoint. Nor indeed can this fruit spring from any thing but real godliness. Therefore the complacency which many take in their own fancied contentment, while they are uninfluenced by vital godliness, is a delusion, which, if not rectified in time, will issue in the most fearful disappointment and misery.]

2.       Those who profess godliness, but manifest a worldly or discontented spirit—

[The tree must be judged of by its fruits. In vain are the highest pretensions to Christian experience, if we be not dead to the world, and resigned to the will of God. O brethren, how many professors of godliness have, “through a desire to be rich [Note: â ï õ ë ü ì å í ï é ð ë ï õ ô å í , ver. 9–11.], fallen into snares and temptations, and into foolish and hurtful lusts, which have drowned them in destruction and perdition!” Remember, that “the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some have coveted after, they have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” But thou man of God, flee these things, and seek rather to be “rich towards God.”]

3.       Those who profess both godliness and contentment—

[Know, that you have a richer portion than crowns or kingdoms. You never can have occasion to envy any man. Only seek to grow in these divine graces. Give yourselves up wholly to God; and “having food and raiment, be therewith content [Note: ver. 8.].” Godliness is “durable riches;” and one grain of contentment is worth a talent of gold. Let it appear, beloved, that you live under a full persuasion of these things; and that your ardour in pursuit of heaven is accompanied with a proportionable indifference about the things of time and sense.]