By Bob Bunn
When my kids were younger, we would play a board game that supposedly took us through the various seasons of life. Along the way, we could choose to get married, have kids, and change careers. We could even decide how to invest our savings and what kind of insurance we needed.
Of course, some parts were strictly fantasy. Depending on how the cards fell, one of us might win a Nobel Peace Prize, become president, or find a cure for the common cold. While those things could happen, none of us are holding our breath. After all, choices made after a spin of a wheel rarely translate to real life.
Some things did mirror reality, though. For instance, the object of the game was always the same: retire in style, living in the fanciest house you could afford. In other words, winning meant finishing with the most stuff. Now that I look back on it, that was probably the most realistic thing about it. That’s because, for so many of us, collecting more stuff is what life is all about. It’s the scorecard we use to determine if we’re “winning” or not.
Unfortunately, having more is never enough. Even Solomon, the wisest—and maybe richest—man who ever lived eventually realized that pursuit of material possessions never produces satisfaction (Ecclesiastes 5:10). It just leaves a bigger hole in our soul and in our lives.
When Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, false teachers were wreaking havoc within the local church. Not only were they spreading lies about Jesus, but they were also treating the gospel like a money-making scheme. For them, preaching wasn’t a calling. It was some kind of spiritual ATM that fed their greedy hunger for more.
That’s why the apostle challenged his young friend to point people in another direction, toward something better than material gain: contentment.
In practical terms, contentment is the satisfaction that comes from understanding that God owns everything and that He will always meet our needs. Content people live at peace because they know God always has their back. They don’t feel the urge to chase fulfillment in the next big deal because they are leaning into Him every step of the way.
They’ve learned the lesson that Paul shared with Timothy: “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1Timothy 6:6). Now, that doesn’t mean that wealth is evil or that we should never have nice things. Material possessions have their place in our lives, and they are fine as long as we keep them in a proper perspective—God’s perspective.
Anything less falls short because it’s rooted in the temporary rather than the eternal. If we want to plug into lasting satisfaction, we’ve got to look beyond the passing treasures of this world. We’ve got to embrace true contentment.
It’s the only scorecard that makes any sense in this life. What’s more, it’s the only scorecard that ensures that we will win in the end.