The summer after I turned 16 was the summer my dad decided to teach me some life lessons. One of those life lessons was that contentment comes from having a priority of Godliness over gain, and always remembering the eternal is more important than the temporary. This particular summer was the first summer I had my own truck, had a steady girlfriend, a boat, and a best friend without a truck or boat. So that summer my biggest priority was to make money so I could support having a truck, girlfriend, boat, and a best friend who didn’t have a truck or a boat. I worked full-time in our family business but at the end of the week the $340 I made after taxes was not enough to support a truck, a girlfriend, a boat, and a best friend without a truck or a boat. So since our family business was closed on Sundays and Mondays, I began picking up extra work on local farms on those days. After missing church three or four Sundays in a row, my dad decided it was time for a life lesson. After work one day he asked me to help him with the shed roof, so I said I would. After working for a couple hours dad decided it was time for a cup of coffee. As we’re standing there drinking our coffee, my dad leans against the ladder and says, “Son I want you to imagine that on top of this roof is eternity and you have to climb this ladder to get there.” Then he took the ladder and leaned it against a little tool shed that was behind the big shed and said, “Imagine on top of this roof is the material things, the temporary things of this world, and you have to climb this ladder to get there.” Then he said, “The problem is you only have one life and if you spend all your time climbing the ladder to get more material things you’ll never spend time on the ladder getting to eternity.” Then he finished his little speech with these words, “When I decided to honor God and center my desires on him, I became content with what God was doing in my life, and that I needed to rethink where my priorities where at.”
Let’s take a look at 1 Timothy 6: 6-7: “but Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it.” In the verse leading up to this, some were using religion as a way to profit financially. But what Paul is saying is that true gain is had in contentment that comes from real Godliness not some fake Godliness for the means of personal gain. And verse 7 emphasizes the reason we should. We come into this world with nothing and when we die we can’t take anything with us. I believe the point Paul is making about contentment is that we came in with nothing and we’ll depart with nothing so why ruin our time here by constantly striving for more. We can spend all our days gaining material possessions, but in the end those possessions are worthless.
Friends what we need instead of focusing on our own wants is to focus on eternity. If we keep our focus on eternity instead of the here and now, we can be content with what the Lord has given us. I have come to realize that things become clearer when looked at in the light of eternity. What will it matter if we always had the latest car or the nicest house if we were too busy to focus on our relationship with Christ, or witness to our neighbor, or to point our children to Christ.
My challenge for you today is to think about what ladder you are spending the most time climbing. Are you focused on climbing a ladder that ends at eternity, or are you focused climbing a ladder that ends with more material things. As you go through your day, think about sacrificing something extra so you can focus on your relationship with Christ or witnessing to your neighbors, or point your children, or grandchildren to Christ. Also remember to take time to thank God and praise him for what we do have, because sometimes we forget about everything that He has given us.
David Springer has served on The Table Leadership Team for the past 2 years. Currently, David oversees our outreach ministries. Next month, at the General Assembly for Missouri Ministries of the Church of God, David will officially become an ordained minister.