The Great Gain of Giving 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. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith…

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:6-12a,17-19

The distorted economy of the flesh says: the more I get, the happier I will be. The more I own, the more secure I am. Our greed for gain spreads from material things to accumulating more accolades, more notice, even the craving for one-upmanship. But God’s divine economy works far differently. The great gain in Christ is contentment and peace, and the greatest reward comes through self-denial. After all, the indescribable gift to us was won and came to us through Jesus giving His all. (Matthew 16:24-26; 2 Corinthians 9:15; Galatians 1:3-4; Titus 2:13-14)

The accumulation of food, clothing, riches, and money can lead to idolatry and destruction, and so can the accumulation of a number of senseless and harmful habits: resentment, anger, jealousy, gossip, worry, pride, and self-loathing. The Lord calls us to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness, all which guard us against such self-destructive desires and practices.

In what do we desire to be rich? Beware the lure of the world and its idols and licentiousness. We will pursue what we value and learn to love. When tempted to accumulate, put on, and practice what is displeasing to God or opposed to His righteousness, deliberately give it up, let go, put off, and seek instead what is above, and good. What we gain from seeking heavenly riches and holy habits, and giving with abandon, is eternal, and true living. (Colossians 3:1-10,12-17)

What might we gain in getting along and shared ideas if we gave up the urge to take a dig, or have the final say? What might we learn of God’s inspirational insight if we gave up telling Him what to do? What headway in a friction-laden relationship might we gain if we gave up cursing, and blessed instead? How might our faith increase if we relinquished angst, fretting, and manipulative (or manic) control? How might we gain a new outlook- with attending love and compassion- toward a difficult person if we surrendered bitterness, default condemnation, and past hurts? (Proverbs 15:1; Ecclesiastes 5:2,7; Romans 12:17-21; 2 Timothy 2:14,16,23-26)

Lord, help me give what I cannot keep to gain what I cannot lose,* for the sake of Your church, Your honor, and Your praise.

*Jim Elliot

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