Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 1 Timothy 6:6
For many years, I have read this verse as: “Godliness + Contentment = the key to abundant living”. Recently, I began glimpsing another understanding: Being content with godliness is the pinnacle of prosperity–the primary purpose of our lives. Doesn’t that make incredible sense?! What can be more glorious than godliness? Yet, we commonly pursue a myriad of avenues we think will make us content–things we believe will make our life more worthwhile. We live for a future day when we have whatever we feel is missing:
… the perfect mate … our dream home … a baby … a prestigious job … work that feels meaningful … that amazing car … a degree …
The list of deceptions that distract us from the simple truth of pursuing godliness is endless. The essence of godliness is reverent gazing upon God. When we walk through life with an awe for the great, glorious goodness of God, it changes how we live.
A little boy from Savannah, Georgia, gives a glimpse of what it looks like to live out love. Despite great pain in his six years, Jaden Hayes has a reservoir of love and strength that he is using to enrich others. In a two-year span, Jaden lost both his mother and father. Just 10 days after losing his mom, he made a choice that is changing lives. Deciding that a world of frowns was not acceptable, this young leader elicited the help of his Auntie Barbara (his mom’s sister) to change the world. Calling it a “Smile Experiment” (#thesmileexperiment), Jaden set a goal of obtaining 500 smiles from total strangers. He and his auntie purchased some trinkets, took a camera and went for a walk. Approaching grim-faced folks on the sweltering streets of Savannah, Jaden offered gifts in exchange for a smile–and documented the results with a picture. His efforts touched hearts! Treat yourself to some joy and read more of his story here!
This young child leads the way in living out love. Refusing to settle in despair, Jaden chose to fix his eyes on bringing light into the world. Whether young Jaden yet knows the God of love or not, I do not know, but he is showing me what love looks like! Such a life of love is the calling of every child of God. It begins with receiving love and completes itself in the giving of love. The pursuit of God produces His likeness in us–and allows others to see it as well. Just as the strength and love of Jaden calls forth the same in those he asks to smile, godliness is a fruit that entices others to seek it!
Rest assured, contentment with godliness is not complacency. In fact, godliness requires great effort: fixing our eyes on God instead of the natural world and our own desires is hard work. The results of that work, though, will power all of what we do in our daily walk–and it will produce prosperity and contentment. Plans and programs will not be our goal–sharing the beauty of the One we gaze upon will be our fuel and our aim. There is no place in the world where that kind of godliness will fail to produce contentment. Contentment with godliness works in a prison or a palace, in poverty or prosperity. It fixes one’s eyes on heaven–and helps others look that way too.
Growing into the likeness of Christ–awed by and dependent upon the Father–is great gain for ourselves, others and the Kingdom of God. Contentment with godliness is the ultimate freedom, because it flows from unwavering confidence in the glorious goodness of God. It is faith in His desire and power to use everyone who pursues a life of godliness.
How can you follow Jaden’s example and show others the love in which you live?