“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
It is ironic that the wisest man who lived was perhaps also the world’s biggest fool. When he was a young man Solomon was asked by God to name what he wanted, and it would be given to him. He asked for wisdom. God, pleased with his choice, gave him not only wisdom, but riches, and long life.
People flocked to hear his wisdom and admire the opulent temple he built. Israel enjoyed peace on all sides. Sadly, it wasn’t enough. Solomon began to undertake a massive building campaign, sent ships searching for more riches, and married the daughters of the kings that surrounded him until he drew the anger of God.
Success is not measured by the continued amassing of more—at least, that’s not how God measures it. Success is being happy, grateful, and at peace with what you do have. Paul said he knew how to be content whether suffering lack or abounding in good things.
That kind of contentment comes about only by our accepting the ups and downs of life as streaming from God’s design. Heaven (an eternity with God) is not a reward for a certain lifestyle, but the everlasting continuation of a life lived in accord with God.
Jesus asked, “what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
What did Solomon’s building, trading, and alliances profit him? What did he gain that was better than what he received at Gibeon? Or put another way, what did he lose by compromising what he had in order to improve upon God’s gift, by building bigger and bigger storehouses?
There is no gain that exceeds the things God has already trusted to our care—our gifts, our talents, and our worship.