Contentment: God Will Provide

-By Thomas E. Brewton

Where socialism fails, the Judeo-Christian tradition succeeds.

Sunday’s sermon at the Long Ridge Congregational Church (a non-UCC congregation in North Stamford, Connecticut) was preached by the Reverend Jason Pankow. His principal text was 1 Timothy 6:3-10.

If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)

The inverse relationship between wealth and contentment is a frequent theme in literature and theatre. Likewise the sense of emptiness, the lack of fulfillment that characterize so much of our hectic lives today. Hillary Clinton, in an article published in the New York Times Magazine, noted this early in the first Clinton administration. Despite the sincerity of her concern, she was mocking dubbed ‘St. Hillary’ by liberal intellectuals.

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. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)

Inner peace and real happiness are matters of the heart, not of cash in hand.

The Protestant ethic was described by Max Weber as a commitment to hard, efficient work, which often produced riches. In contrast to our 20th century society, corrupted by the atheistic materialism of socialism, the 17th and 18th century Puritans and Presbyterians, here and in Holland and the UK, acknowledged that those riches belonged to God, that rich families were merely His stewards and accountable for using wealth for good purposes. That ethic resulted in the greatest and fastest improvement in living standards, for everyone, of any period in history.

The bottom line is that making money, as in Jesus’s parable of the good and faithful servant, is not sinful. The sin lies in worshipping the making of money for itself and for one’s selfish gratification.

Too many people today pit their personal desires against what God wants them to do, against living a moral life in accord with the Judeo-Christian instruction of the Bible. Juedo-Christian morality requires us, as individuals, to do the right thing. We can’t get away with letting the socialistic government planners tell us what to do and assuming that passive conformity to millions of regulations constitutes morality.

While it was not part of Rev. Pankau’s sermon message, another of his quotations nails the fatal weakness of socialism:

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 5:10)

Émile Durkheim, a founder of sociology in the 19th century and a sympathizer with socialism, observed that socialism has an inherent and insurmountable problem, as the post-Revolutionary French government quickly discovered. Socialistic theory speaks of collectivizing society’s wealth in order to satisfy everyone’s needs. But, in real life, people do not distinguish between desires and needs. And experience has demonstrated that people’s desires have no limits. People will always want more than is available.

We see the result today, here and in Europe, in huge government deficits, massive public debt, and welfare entitlement commitments that can not be fulfilled as our populations age, at the same time that special interest groups pressure politicians for still more hand-out programs.

The situation will get worse, at an accelerating rate, year by year. The ratio of working taxpayers to the elderly, sick, and destitute is dropping rapidly. When President Roosevelt instituted socialism in the 1930s, there were approximately 35 working taxpayers for every Social Security beneficiary. Today there are slightly more than 3 working taxpayers for every Social Security beneficiary.

Another aspect of liberal-socialistic-progressivism’s fatal weakness is its exclusive focus on material things, welfare benefits of all kinds. Liberal intellectuals assume, as part of the social “sciences” introduced by French socialists in the 18th century, that humans have no souls, that humans are the same as any other animal, motivated only by desires for water, food, sex, clothing, shelter, and power.

This is one reason why liberals aggressively attack spiritual religion, consigning it to the realm of ignorant superstition. It is essential to the materialistic religion of socialism that humans be soulless animals that can be trained by regulations to conform to the socialist ideal: a classless society in which everyone is happy to be equally poor.

Against this bleak and dreary prospect, the Bible instructs us that only through faith in God can people attain inner peace and true happiness that will liberate them from selfish jockeying for more personal welfare benefits, without regard to the costs to society as a whole.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776

Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Thomas E. Brewton

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