Contentment Devotion: “Great Gain”

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

The whole problem with discontentment is that it is wanting what we don’t have. So, to really grasp contentment is to want nothing more than what God has already given. Then how does it fit that embracing contentment means that we gain?

The real problem with our discontent is that it is focused on the things of this life, which are destined to end. We can gain everything this world has to offer, and from an eternal perspective we are exactly as far along as the person who has gained nothing this world has to offer.

Jesus gives us a different focus. “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33).

When our focus is on God’s kingdom, on aiming for his glory and getting to his heavenly home, then we do gain. We gain people for the kingdom. We gain peace for our souls. We gain contentment with this life, because we are focused on the next life. Heaven is ours. It is a sure thing, because of Jesus. When we stop spending time worrying about and trying to get things here, we find the peace that comes with knowing we already have everything to look forward to eternally. That’s the great gain of contentment.

Contentment Devotion: “How do we find contentment?”

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

You’ve probably seen the last sentence of that passage on a t-shirt or a meme. It’s often misquoted to mean that as long as I have Christ, there’s nothing I can’t do. Is that what Paul is saying?

Paul wrote Philippians while he was in prison. Let that sink in – a man sitting chained up in a jail cell is saying he is perfectly content. If anyone had a right to wish for something different, to wish for more possessions, a different position, better relationships, and a change in environment, it was Paul. But he was content.

Now, if in that context he had meant that with Christ there’s nothing he can’t do, he could have hulked out, broken his chains, bent the bars, and walked right out of prison. But he didn’t need to do that to be content. He had Jesus. To him, that was enough.

Is it enough for us? It might be hard, at times, to say yes, even though we desperately want to. We know we have these desires in our hearts, and we just can’t let go of them so easily. But just as Jesus strengthened Paul to say, “It’s all good,” so he can strengthen us.

Contentment Devotion: “How does discontentment affect your life?”

“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:13-15)

Discontentment is a form of evil desire. Do you agree with that? Our world would say that discontentment, with a little bit of shifting the verbiage, can just be called ambition or drive. Nothing wrong with those, right?

Certainly, it’s not wrong to want to be the best you can be at something, to glorify God by pursuing excellence. But we so easily cross the line from godly ambition to sinful wanting, and the warning of Scripture is that sinful wanting always leads to sinful doing.

Even when we stop ourselves short of doing something sinful to achieve our desires, discontentment can show up in sinful worry. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6 that no one can add a single day to his or her life by worrying. Yet, when we dwell on the things we don’t have, we can worry ourselves into all kinds of emotional and relational distress.

But Jesus’ words in Matthew 6 are also intended to put our worries to rest. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

God loves you more than you can ever understand or imagine. He will never leave you without something that is needed to keep you on the road to heaven. Maybe he has blessings in store for the future that you don’t have yet; but knowing that he is good, you can wait on his timing. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

Contentment Devotion: “Why do we struggle with contentment?”

“What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting.” (Romans 7: 7-8a)

Where does sin come from? In general, it’s produced by our sinful nature. But why do certain sins rise up in our hearts? Where does discontentment come from? If we apply what Paul says in these verses from Romans, it isn’t a stretch to say that as soon as God’s Word says, “Be happy with what you have,” our sinful nature immediately protests, “But what I have isn’t enough!”

Mike Westendorf once said, “Awareness drives our discontent.” As soon as we know that there is something out there that we don’t have, our sinful nature takes hold and says, “Then I want to have it.” When God says, “I’ve given you everything you need,” our sinful nature suggests that since God hasn’t given us everything, he must be holding out on us.

This isn’t God’s fault. It’s ours. It belongs to our sinful nature. And our only hope for dealing with it is to take it Jesus. To admit that we feel discontentment the moment he tells us to be content, and to surrender that sin to Jesus. Let him do with it what he does with every sin – carries it up to Calvary and pays its terrible price. A God who would do that for you can’t possibly be holding out on you. And he isn’t – he has eternity waiting for you. In Jesus, God has given you everything.

Contentment Devotion: “Godliness with Contentment”

“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.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Contentment. Those who have it scarcely think about it. Those who don’t have it wish they did, and usually think that all they need is just a little more of… something… and then they’ll have contentment.

But the whole idea of contentment is that we don’t wish we had something that we don’t. Contentment is being perfectly happy with what we have. So how do we achieve it?

The answer to the question is, like many things relating to our faith, both simple and complex. Paul’s words to Timothy make it sound so simple – “If we have food and clothing, we will be content.” Most of us have food and clothing; are we content?

Weeding through our hearts and minds to understand why we want what we don’t have certainly seems more complicated than the question, “Do I have food and clothing.” Our chronic lack of contentment might show itself in different ways for each of us. Is it the stuff you wish you had? Maybe it’s a position you hold, either at work or in your social life, and you wish you had more recognition or respect. Is it a relationship, like Rick Springfield who just wishes he had Jessie’s girl? Maybe you just wish you had a change of place.

All discontentment boils down simply to a lack of faith. If I believe God is good, then I know that whatever he has given me today is good enough for me. To wish I had more or different is to say, “God, what you’ve given me isn’t enough. It isn’t good enough. I want more.”

Whenever we experience a lack of faith, our first step is to go back to the cross. See your Savior, who was so good he gave himself up for you. Remember that if he gave that, then he won’t withhold anything good. Trusting in his goodness, you know you have forgiveness for your lack of contentment. Now, with that perspective of the cross, you can look at how God has blessed you, and how he has given you all you need.

Truth Devotion: “The truth will set you free”

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

Freedom. It’s important to people in our culture. There have been dozens of movies about it, hundreds of songs about it (most of them country songs), and more speeches about it than anyone can count. But do you ever wonder if despite all this, people in our culture don’t really understand what freedom actually is? Is the ability to say what we want and do what we want, whatever we want whenever we want, really freedom?

Well, to most people it probably would sound like it. After all, if saying and do what we want isn’t freedom, then what is? But God in his Word begs to differ. He tells us that our hearts are deceitful and cannot be trusted, that our desires are the root of sin, and that when we do what our sinful hearts want, we make ourselves slaves to sin.

Slaves. There’s no freedom there. Being free to do and say whatever we want is not freedom at all; it’s just another form of slavery.

Jesus offers us true freedom. True freedom is knowing that the failures that haunt us ultimately have no hold over us. True freedom is knowing that the pain we feel in this life will one day be gone and forgotten. True freedom is having the ability to discern the difference between that which we want and is good for us, and that which we want and is bad for us. True freedom is having the strength to not follow desires that would be harmful to us and others. The truth Jesus gives us in his Word tells us how he has taken away our sin, tells us of the heaven that awaits us, tells us how we were meant to live, and gives us the power to live according to his will.

I knew someone once who was caught in possession of child pornography. He was arrested, and his access to the internet was taken away. Now, to the world’s definition of freedom, this man was no longer free. He could no longer do what he wanted, go where he wanted, look at what he wanted. But his assessment of the situation? “For the first time in a very long time, I finally feel free.” See, his sin had caught up with him, but he had faith in the one who truly makes him free. He saw his earthly consequences as an act of God’s grace, reclaiming him from slavery to his sin and returning him to the loving arms of his Father.

Jesus offers you the same freedom. He offers it every time he leads you to his Word. He offers it every time he puts someone in your life who speaks the truth to you. He offers it every time he confronts you with your sin and leads you to repentance. He offers it every time temptation comes your way and he gives you a way to resist. In him, you are free.


  • Are you tempted to think of freedom in the same terms our culture defines it? Have you seen ways that exercising that “freedom” has led people into slavery?
  • Has there been a time in your life when you followed the desires of your heart, only to find yourself ultimately dissatisfied and enslaved to sin? Are you in that place right now?
  • The truth Jesus gives us in his Word is the only source of true freedom. How will you tap into that freedom and live by it today?

Truth Devotion: “Sanctify them by the truth”

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

To sanctify something is to make it holy, to set it apart for a holy purpose. God sanctified the people of Israel by setting them apart for the purpose of preserving the line of the Savior. God sanctified Jesus by setting apart from the rest of humanity, the child of a virgin and the only human being since Adam and Eve born without sin. God has sanctified his Church, the people called out of the world to be his own, through Word and Sacraments.

When I teach my catechism students what it means to be sanctified, I use the example of a chair designated for sitting and studying the Word. If I wanted a place to sit and study the Bible, where I could keep myself free of distraction and in a meditative state of mind, I might choose a chair in a corner of my house and designate it as my “Bible reading chair.” In order to preserve the sanctity of that chair, I would not put it in sight of the TV. I wouldn’t sit in it when playing a game on my phone. I wouldn’t use it as a stepstool to reach something in an up high cupboard. I would use that chair for its one purpose – a place to be in the Word. To do anything else in or with the chair would make it less than sanctified.

Okay, that’s a hypothetical example, and a little bit silly. I don’t have such a chair, and while it doesn’t sound like a bad idea, I don’t know if it’s practical in my little house to have an entire piece of furniture devoted solely to my daily devotion. But you get the point – to set something apart for a holy purpose means to keep it free from things that take away from that holy purpose.

So it is with our lives. Christ has sanctified us by his truth. He has set us apart for holiness by his truth. Through the truth that Jesus is our Savior, and through the truth that his blood cleanses us from all sin, we have been brought to faith and set apart from the rest of the world.

Since we are set apart, we live by the truth of God’s Word. When faced with a question of how we are to live, we don’t do what the world does – look to philosophy, or theory, or a blog post on the top ten ways to make your life awesome. We look to God’s Word. There we find the truth that sets us apart, and leads us to live sanctified lives, lives set apart for God’s holy purpose.


  • In what ways does the life of a sanctified Christian look different than the lives of those around them?
  • How does it change your outlook on life to know that God has set you apart for a holy purpose?
    If God has set you apart for a holy purpose, that means he wants to accomplish things through you. How will you identify the purpose God has for you right now? How can you fulfill the mission of his Church today?

Truth Devotion: “Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light”

“Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:21).

Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Ruling Council. He was a man respected by others for his spiritual insights and his devotion to the Law of Moses. From a social and political perspective, he had made it big. But that also meant he had a lot to lose. A little bit of shame, a little bit of scandal, and he would lose it all. Such is the way of politics.

That might explain why Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, under cover of darkness. He wanted to talk to this young rabbi, and as he explained to Jesus, he knew that Jesus had come from God. But he wasn’t quite ready yet to be seen learning from Jesus. He suspected, and perhaps rightly so, that if anyone found out, he would lose everything.

We might wonder if Jesus’ words here were aimed directly at Nicodemus and his clandestine meeting. “You came to me at night, under cover of darkness. But if you’re going to live by the Truth, you can’t hide. Step out into the light.”

Most Christians in America today don’t go quite so far out of their way to hide their faith. We’re not worshiping in secret, not hiding our Bibles behind bricks in the fireplace. But there are plenty of ways we inadvertently hide our faith by the way we live. Do we avoid talking about our faith for fear it will make someone uncomfortable? Do we choose entertainment that is popular but does not honor God? Do we join in with others in gossip or crude joking? If someone found out you were a Christian, would they be surprised?

Even the most dedicated disciple of Jesus would have to admit that they have fallen short. We all do. The fact is, when we live by the truth, as Jesus says, we are living with the truth that we are sinners in need of God’s grace. If what we have done has been done in the sight of God, we know that he sees people who fail to meet his righteous standard.

Yet, we also live – truly live – by the truth that Jesus has met God’s righteous standard on our behalf. He stands in our place, the sinless Son of God, and took our place on the cross, enduring God’s holy wrath for us. That truth brings us out of the darkness of unbelief and terror and into the light of faith and hope. So, we do live by the truth, and we are in the light. Because we stand in the light of grace, the things we do now are seen by God as works for his glory.

Nicodemus didn’t stay in the dark. Later on, Nicodemus opposed the other Pharisees and rulers, speaking in defense of Jesus. After Jesus’ death, Nicodemus went with Joseph of Arimathea to bury Jesus, an act of honor for him that was done in full daylight. Like Nicodemus, we also can be bold in honoring Jesus and showing that we are his disciples.


  • How have you been tempted to “hide in the dark” when it comes to your faith? How have the choices you’ve made obscured what you believe?
  • Habakkuk 2:4 and Romans 1:17 say that “the righteous will live by faith.” Jesus talks here about “living by the truth.” Reflect on the connection between these concepts, and how they show themselves in the life of a Christian.
  • How will you “come out of the dark” today and make it clear that you are a disciple of Jesus?

Truth Devotion: “Everyone on the side of truth …”

“Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37b).

Our culture has no end of opinions about truth. The Enlightenment Era said Truth could be found all around us and within us, and that through reflection and meditation we could acquire it. The Industrial Revolution brought the firm belief that science and careful study could establish Truth from empirical data, and that there is no limit to how much Truth the human mind can acquire. Modernism told us to be skeptical of all the past Truth claims, that Truth is a social construct, and that mankind has the ability to shape Truth ourselves. Post-modernism took it a step further in saying that every person can shape Truth individually, that Truth is relative, and that Truth is whatever you decide it to be.

Pontius Pilate’s view of Truth came out of his culture as well. He had learned the lessons of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Julius. He had probably come the same conclusion as many of his day – that if there is such a thing as Truth, it is unknowable, and a smart man simply focuses on the here and now. He reflected this cynical and jaded view of Truth when he responded to Jesus with a flippant, “What is truth?”

The irony was that it was standing right in front of him. Jesus had challenged Pilate with the question that still haunts every jaded and cynical Truth-seeker and Truth-ignorer in the world today – What do you do with Jesus? Where do you stand, his side of the line, or the other? Because Jesus draws a line in the sand here. “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” There are two sides here. There’s Truth – the absolute Truth from the One who is True – and there’s everything else. And if it’s not Truth, what is it?

We have to wrestle with this question too. In big and small ways, every day, we’re confronted with lies. Lies about how the world works, about how we are to behave in society, about our jobs, our marriages, our families, our possessions, our time, our reason for being, and everything in between. The lies come from the TV and newspapers, the internet and social media, books, movies, and radio, even our friends and, yes, even sometimes Christians. How do we confront those lies?

“Everyone on the side of Truth listens to me.”


  • Identify some of the lies that have confronted you in the last few days. Think about the things you’ve heard, read, or seen that have made their mark on you. How did you react to when you were confronted with them?
  • Consider again the various approaches to Truth laid out in the first paragraph of the devotion. Why do you suppose those things have appealed to people? Do you find yourself attracted to any of them?
  • Jesus has drawn a line in the sand – Truth on his side, everything else on the other. What can you do today to make sure you’re standing on and standing up for his side of the line?

Truth Devotion: “I am the way and the truth …”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Who do you say Jesus is?

Jesus had a lot to say about truth. He used the phrase “I tell you the truth” more than seventy times throughout the Gospels. He stated that the very reason he was born was to testify to the truth. He pointed people to the truth of God’s Word, and he drew a line in the sand, declaring that on his side is truth, and anything else is falsehood.

But perhaps the boldest of all his claims about truth was this – that he claimed to be the Truth. That there is no separation between the Truth and who he is. That he is the absolute embodiment of absolute Truth. And he went on to make the claim that because he is the embodiment of Truth, no one gets to God except by him.

There are a lot of people in the world claiming to have the truth. There are a lot of religions out there claiming to have the way to God. For the most part, our culture is all about being tolerant and accepting of all religious viewpoints… that is, except for Jesus. Sure, many people give lip service to Jesus, claiming that he’s all about peace and love and kindness and acceptance, and that he was a great teacher. But if anyone points out that Jesus said he’s also the only Truth and the only way to God, suddenly he isn’t so well appreciated.

This should be no surprise. After all, when Jesus made his claims, it made people angry enough that they put him to death. When a religious leader stands up and says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” that’s when people start getting upset. And after 2,000 years he’s still intimidating people. Because he proved his right to claim that he is the Truth by his resurrection.

So who do you say he is? When his disciples were asked that question, they answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus said that that’s the Truth on which he would build his entire Church. He is the Truth on which we build, and he is the one who brings us to God.


  • Jesus asked his disciples who the people said he was, and who they said he was. He asks us the same question: Who do you say he is?
  • It’s been said that all of human history rises and falls on the question of who Jesus is. More importantly, every person’s life rises or falls on the question of who Jesus is. How has your answer to that question changed your life?
  • If Jesus is everything he claims to be, then nothing can be more important than to know his Truth, and to lead others to it. What is one thing you can change about how you live that will help you lead others to the Truth?