I recently heard a powerful message on one of the Ten Commandments — Thou shall not covet. While listening, I realized there is a strong connection between coveting and discontentment. If we are truly content in our circumstances, we will never covet. Our neighbor’s house, spouse, servant, or ox will be no temptation if we are truly and completely content in our circumstances and life situations. We could possibly rephrase the tenth commandment to say, “be content.”
THE KEY TO KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS
I believe contentment is the key to keeping the other commandments. It is hard to imagine a truly content person engaging in theft, adultery, or murder. Contentment is powerful indeed!
THE FINAL STEP OF GODLINESS
As I wrote in The Power of Contentment (1.0), this is not a superficial contentment that lasts as long as the weather is good, we get good service at a restaurant, our team wins the game, or we drive through ten green lights in a row. I'm speaking of the contentment described in Philippians 4. Paul is content in abundance or extreme lack, comfort or extreme distress. This type of contentment is the final step of godliness.
AN ADDITIVE TO GODLINESS
For years, I have sought to understand the fullness of the words Paul wrote to Timothy:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. — 1 Timothy 6:6
Think about it. I find it shocking to think godliness would need some type of additive in order to be a means of great gain. Most of us wish godliness was a word used to describe us, yet we struggle to approach the standard of godly living on a consistent basis. We think, “If only I could live a godly life,” and yet, here Paul says even if we did, it would not be enough. In fact, this verse seems to imply godliness without contentment may not get you very far in God’s economy. Even godliness requires contentment to be a means of great gain. There is definitely power in contentment!
A STATE OF THE HEART
Finally, consider the positioning of the tenth commandment; it is the last one. It somehow wraps up that which represents the standard of godliness we are to live by, which is really all about being content. The other commandments are in some way related more to what we do. Thou shall not covet speaks more to who we are, what is residing in our heart and mind. It is as if the first nine commandments tell us what we are supposed to do. They are the standard of godliness in outward expression. The last commandment speaks to what is in our heart, telling us the rightness of heart necessary to complete what true godliness is.
The first nine commandments actually require the last one, the final step of godliness, because it speaks to a heart transformed by the power of Christ.