The Good Life
My work-from-home routine has come to involve a walk through the neighborhood during my lunch break. Every day I notice things about the place I live that—driving by in my pickup—normally don’t get a passing glance. Yesterday I crossed a street into a more affluent neighborhood. The properties were expansive, the houses were massive, and the landscaping was perfect. Even the birds in the professionally pruned trees seemed to sing better than the ones in my yard.
I found myself wishfully thinking about how wonderful it would be to have such a place to live. If only I had a front porch like that… or a view like that… or that shop in the back. Wouldn’t that be the life! Don’t get me wrong; I have a house and yard that I love. But still, don’t we all sometimes look across the street with a wish for something more?
Paul counseled a younger man, Timothy, saying: “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” (1 Tim 6:6–9).
This is not to judge people who have nice things. They have worked hard and may very well be among the most generous and hospitable people around. This is, rather, a warning to people like me who sometime are deceived into thinking that stuff satisfies. A discontented spirit will lead you into foolish and futile pursuits, and away from the things that really make for life.
Paul went on to counsel Timothy to flee from the cravings of such things, and—instead—to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Tim 6:11–12).
This is hard to practice right now. In many ways it feels like the coronavirus is pulling the good life right out of our hands. It threatens our health and our financial situation. But, if the good life is really and truly something that no virus or other unfortunate event can take from us, then such times can help us shift our eyes from the futile to the fruitful—that which really makes life good. Godliness with contentment is great gain.