11 April 2018

Good morning and thank you for joining me today for the Foundations Daily Podcast. My name’s Bryony and this week we are continuing through Paul’s letter to Timothy, his good friend and fellow church leader.

REFLECTION:

Today’s passage is 1 Timothy 6: 6-10, I will read it in full now, it’s quite short!

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Paul speaks about contentment several times in his letters. Especially the truth that contentment is rarely found in the places we expect it to be. Particularly in this letter to Timothy, he focuses on the way we can equate money with contentment. This is, of course, massively relevant to the culture we are living in. We are surrounded by messages to buy. Advertisers spend millions persuading us that we are lacking something and that the hole can be filled by their product. From trainers to mops, chocolate to headphones and shampoo to cars we are told the same story, ‘this purchase will bring you closer to contentment’.

Here’s a little story called ‘The Mexican Fisherman’ which illustrates the same point that Paul is making but in a slightly different way:

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Of course not all of us will find contentment in quite this way but you get the point! Like Paul, the writer of this little parable illustrates the foolishness of chasing more, more, more. As a family we started the process of minimising and simplifying our belonging about three years ago. I could wax lyrically about how transformative I’ve found it all, but for now what I will say is that as we’ve reduced and owned less things we’ve become more content, not less. The world tells us to buy more but in our family we’ve found the opposite to be true, the less we own the happier we are with what’s left. Of course many in the world don’t get this choice and we in the wealthy west would do well to remember that. But for myself, and I imagine the majority of those listening today, we all know the allure of money, the attractiveness of wealth and the ‘love’ it can elicit.

As Paul instructs, let’s pursue contentment somewhere else. Let’s find contentment in having exactly what we need for the day, no more and no less, let’s find contentment in a simple life, a Godly life. Let’s seek neither wealth or possessions but Godliness and simplicity. Then we will have hearts and minds that are unhindered and ready for God to use.

My question to leave us with today is ‘where is the pursuit for more (in whatever form it takes) taking us further, not nearer to contentment?’

PRAYER:

Jesus – thank you for this reminder that contentment can only be fine in seeking things that are on your heart. We are sorry for the places we’ve got this wrong, please help us to be aware of these things and bring them to you today.  Amen.

READING: 1 Timothy 6:6-10

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.