BY Diana Stone
Text: 1 Timothy 6:3-21, Ephesians 1:3-14
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.
– 1 Timothy 6:6-7, HCSB
I was 20 when I traveled across the world for the first time on a mission trip to India. What I saw in the month I lived there changed my life forever— the poverty, the sickness, the hollow worship of false idols. I came home torn apart over how little this developing country had while, in America, our norm was choosing from 50 varieties of cereal. My heart wasn’t stirred by the desolate state of so many lost souls, it was stirred by the disparity between the material items I had and they didn’t. I couldn’t understand how sharing Jesus mattered if they would still starve to death.
Eleven years later in 2014, I traveled to Zimbabwe, Africa, on a vision trip with a child sponsorship organization. I saw up close the critical need for maternal and infant health interventions, both those accomplished and those yet to be. One in ten children in the community die before their 5th birthday. Clean births and skilled doctors are desperately needed.
I better prepared myself this time for things I might see and how I might feel when I returned home. What I didn’t prepare for was standing in the midst of a Sunday service, three churches gathered under a large tree to welcome us, everyone singing and dancing with joy. At that moment a feeling that had been with me the entire trip took firm hold of my soul: Jesus was everywhere here. Among devastating poverty, great sorrow and heartbreaking stories—Jesus was right there.
The Holy Spirit’s presence in that place was so overwhelming I began to cry.
I felt so, so sad… sad for us.
I can’t remember the last time I’d ever felt such an incredible sense of peace and hope. I nearly envied them, their love for Jesus and the way they seemed to radiate the Gospel. It seemed so simple for them. Why wasn’t it the same for me?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of needing “more” in our everyday lives. Keeping up with our neighbors, and even the strangers we follow online, leaves us looking around with discontented eyes and unhappy hearts. We are urged to do, to be, to strive for the next thing that seems to promise, “This will be it. This will be happiness.” Yet it never is. The Illustrated Bible Survey says it this way: “Thus, it is the burden of excess that humans can not handle. All that life offers eludes any sense of meaning and purpose without God.”
This passage in 1 Timothy isn’t about comparing our material blessings with someone else and feeling guilt for what we or they do or don’t have. Oh, no, the Gospel is much richer than that.
Paul is calling us to our own fight for faith. We don’t often recognize our battles in this life that offers instant gratification at every turn. We are constantly being lured away from recognizing our need for a Savior because we’ve grown comfortable with the lie that our needs can be met with earthly comforts. Our lives may look vastly different from those of our faith family around the world, but our desperation for the grace of Jesus is the same.
Friends, we must keep fighting for what matters. Like my dancing brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe, let’s turn from the false security of our comforts and “take hold of that which is truly life”—life found only in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (v19, ESV).
We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
– Ephesians 1:7-8, HCSB