Some people think godliness is a way to get rich. And I don’t mean the swindling televangelist stereotype. I mean the average person who believes that being faithful to God means blessing for their career or company.
While the Apostle Paul warns his disciple Timothy about false teachers who imagine godliness as a means of gain, he also speaks to the general problem with desiring to be rich:
[False teachers imagine godliness is a means of gain.] But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world…But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.1 Timothy 6:5-10 ESV
A different dimension
Money is orthogonal to godliness; riches are on a different dimension.
There are both godly and ungodly rich people. There are both godly and ungodly poor people.
And I think this orthogonality applies to other desires too.
For a young man like myself, it’s easy to mistakenly believe that by being devoted to God, my desire for a wife will be fulfilled. But that desire is also on a different dimension than godliness.
Some godly people are married and some who wish to be married remain single all their lives. Godliness does not get you a spouse!
In fact, according to Paul, what all godly people have in common is persecution:
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted2 Timothy 3:12 ESV
Godliness may actually act as a filter.
Because of devotion to God, you may forgo lucrative business deals or sacrifice something important to your career. Because of devotion to God, you may choose not pursue many desirable relationships (or others may find your faith undesirable to them).
What godliness DOES get you
So what do you gain with godliness?
One word: contentment.
Godliness doesn’t promise riches or a spouse, but it promises contentment, which when you think about it is amazing.
Everyone has unfulfilled desires.
Even if you were a celebrity, your money wouldn’t be able to buy love. Even if you had a long happy marriage, you could still want things outside of it. And even if your startup got millions in funding, the pressure to perform would only increase with it.
Having our all desires satisfied isn’t all it’s hyped to be. Having godliness with contentment is the “dark horse” that wins every time.
Godliness helps you feel grateful for everything in your life because you perceive it as a gift from God. It orders your life around God’s will, giving meaning to your experiences and purpose to your decisions.
So if you have unfulfilled desires and tried to use godliness as a way to get it: what could happen if you sought contentment instead?