The Downsizing Series
A series of devotions about paring down so it is easier to look up.
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. (1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV)
My grandmother on my dad’s side of the family lived through the Great Depression. She knew hardship. She knew frugality. And she knew contentment.
As she got older, none of that changed. She reused coffee grounds, shopped for her clothing at thrift stores, upgraded her appliances only after they gave up the ghost and she lived in the same house for fifty years.
I don’t think I ever heard her use the phrase, “I want …” She simply made due with what she had while focusing most of her energies on her family and church.
When she died, she did leave a lot of stuff behind — mostly because she didn’t throw anything away. From what I understand, that’s a mindset that many people developed during the Depression. But she never had any illusions about her stuff bringing satisfaction.
In 1 Timothy 6, Paul is warning Timothy about false teachers who view the faith as a means to profit (verse 5). What they failed to realize is, godliness with contentment leads to great spiritual gain.
Then Paul got practical.
We brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of it. We know this to be true, but it doesn’t stop us from accumulating way too much stuff in an attempt to find contentment. But Paul says we are to be content with food and clothing.
Did he forget shelter?
Some commentators — including John Gill, John Wesley, Matthew Henry, Adam Clarke and Albert Barnes — point out that the Greek word that some versions of the Bible translate as “clothing” is actually more broad than that, saying it means “covering,” and in their opinion, that includes shelter.
Even so, that leads to the question: How much food and covering is enough?
It will look different for each of us, but Paul warned against finding contentment in earthly possessions — a sentiment that would be wise to keep in mind as we downsize.
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.
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