“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV)
Reading wisdom literature, like the book of Proverbs, is a favorite pursuit in my daily routine. More than most things in my life, I need wisdom to guide and direct me.
My long stay in California is drawing to a close. While here, in the room I am staying, is a set of commentaries on the entire bible, called “The Interpreter’s Bible.” I have been blessed by the wisdom contained in its multi-volume set.
In browsing through Proverbs, I stumbled across the commentary for Psalm 92. Here is a paragraph from William Morgan included for this Psalm from pages 501-502:
“A man’s sin comes back to him and finds him less in what he suffers that what he misses, and less in its external than in its internal results. It comes back to him in the dulling of the moral intelligence, the deterioration of character, the impairing of the finer sensibilities and energies which are its inevitable consequences. It is only to express the same truth in other words when we say that the real penalty of sin is alienation from God. The soul loses is power to respond to the high, the pure, the generous; moral activity is paralyzed, and only the ignoble remain. No external or mechanical order this, but on belonging to the nature of things, and from which there is no escape. Must we not recognize in it a revelation of the Justice that rules at the heart of things?” (Quote taken from “The Nature and Right of Religion [Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1926])
The “Interpreter’s Bible” also quoted from J. I. Hammond:
“…In a very real sense–the deepest–righteousness is success.”
Where do we hear such sublime truths today? Certainly not in the broken cisterns of daily news sources where so many of us daily feed at. No, those who regularly eat at the pigs troughs of internet news or print sources are subjected to an overload of base instincts and behaviors, from so-called “gay marriage” rights all the way to the twisted behaviors of Hollywood starlets and stars.
We hear nothing of godliness and righteousness from secular news sources but a continual drumbeat of hedonism and moral depravity. Is it any wonder, then, that those we meet on a daily basis personify the very characteristics of those whom we daily read about?
Yesterday at UC Berkeley, I listened to a conversation between Zac, an open-air preacher, and a teen-aged male who came up to talk to him. This young man, not more than seventeen, spoke typically of a youth in his age group, saying that boys his age where only concerned about “spreading their seed around.” For this young man, any talk of sexual restraint or “saving oneself for that special someone in marriage” was as old school as the eight track player of long ago.
Of course, my generation, who spawned this present one, was nothing different; we spoke and acted precisely the same way. We were the authors of “free love” lived out in the new hedonistic paradigm of “drugs, sex and rock n’ roll.”
But there was a slight difference between then and now: we were still in the shadow of our previous generations Christian godliness and moral values, and though we wanted to wholly come out from within that godly influence, its restraining presence was still felt. Now, that restraint is gone, and the young man such as the one I listened to is par for the course.
But godliness, as Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:6, is a means of great gain. A life lived in godliness and in the pursuit of righteousness is a reward all in itself. This thought struck me powerfully today, because I can wrongly believe that the rewards of godliness and righteousness are always future tense and cannot be something we tangibly experience now.
This thinking is incorrect, because godliness, as stated above, has its own rewards right now for those who pursue and practice it. Some of the rewards we experience today are peace with God, harmony with Him, and the comfort that one has knowing that our fellowship with God is not strained and interrupted by sin on our part.
Godliness brings peace of mind. When we are practicing righteousness, our souls are at rest, our minds are not troubled, and there is a real sense that God has us securely in the palm of His hand. We may be going through incredible trials and sufferings, but this knowledge that God is in control allows us to rest in His sovereignty and perfect plan for our lives. A godly life allows this peace and serenity to be the hallmark of our lives.
Are you living a godly life? Are you pursuing righteousness?
“Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6 (NIV)
What a challenge this verse is to those who wrongfully believe that a life of holiness is unattainable in this life. On the contrary, it is the mark, the very evidence, of a regenerated life. It is the birthright of every born-again believer.