(6) Now godliness with contentment is great gain. (7) For we brought nothing into thisworld, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (8) And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
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When we are thankful, it means that we have been impressed with a sense of kindness that has been expressed toward us, and we desire to acknowledge it. Essentially, it indicates that we are grateful. Thankfulness is the actual expression of our gratitude and acknowledgement of the kindness done to us. Thankfulness is also a state of mind, an attitude. It is a content and positive perspective, which does not focus on what one does not have, but rather values what one does have, no matter how basic.
Paul continues this thought in the following verses, explaining that greediness creates a great many problems, ultimately bringing upon us discontent and unhappiness. This is just the opposite of the thankfulness that real contentment generates.
Reading these verses on greed and considering the greedy state of man's mind, a popular bumper sticker from several years ago comes to mind: "He who dies with the most things . . . wins." Of course, it did not take long for those whose thinking ran counter to this to reply with their own that read, "He who dies with the most things . . . is dead." This is true; the pursuit of material gain to the exclusion of all else ends in death.
Being thankful is part of being content. Unfortunately, many people feel that being content means that they have to give up on their dreams and goals. It does not. Like thankfulness, contentment is a state of mind. God wants us to be content with and thankful for what we have been given. That does not mean that we cannot want better and work to make our situations better, but it does mean that we should not approach our proper desire for more with a greedy, covetous attitude.
Nor can we compare what others have and what we may not have from an attitude that we deserve the same or even better. Maybe we do deserve it, but right now God has chosen not to give it to us, and we must be content with that and thankful for what we have been given.
How thankful and content we are can be seen in the illustration of water in a glass. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Our answer depends on and reveals our state of mind.