ERROL CASTENS: ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain’



My wife, Sue, remembers being incredulous when she would ask her aunt and grandmother what they wanted for Christmas and they would almost invariably reply, “I don’t need anything.”

Now, we’re almost there.

We wouldn’t turn down a load of gravel for the driveway or compost for the vegetable beds, and odometers hint we’ll have to update vehicles soon, but overall our material wants are pretty few.

Though we enjoy our music collections and occasionally add to them, there aren’t many concerts we’d want to attend. Sports are only rarely compelling enough to endure the crowds. We have countless books and movies still waiting to be read or viewed, and we’re fairly particular about obligating ourselves to new ones.

We do like to travel. We’re eager to share a couple of favorite faraway spots with loved ones, and a few new places remain on our bucket lists. But we like our going away in fairly small doses, and probably never again will we travel far during the height of gardening season.

We could readily pat ourselves on the back for no longer being so acquisitive as we once were, but truth is, I’m discontented in new ways.

I’d like less house to clean and less yard to mow. It would tickle me to sell or give away half or more of our cookware, dishes, furniture, clothes, books, movies, small appliances, exercise equipment and tools by half.

Without the incessant cleaning, moving, organizing, repairing and paying taxes, insurance and maintenance on many of those items, surely we would have more time to cook, read, create, volunteer, exercise, garden and socialize, not to mention more time merely to think or to count shooting stars or lightning bugs.

What feeds my discontent, and to a lesser degree Sue’s, is that emotion is involved on both sides. We each hold onto memories differently. We have disparate definitions of security and comfort. What things each of us thinks may become important constitute a dissimilar list.

There’s a scripture that addresses what I’ve been thinking about. The Apostle Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy, “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” (I Timothy 6:6-8).

Alone, those verses make my case for moving toward a minimalist lifestyle. But Paul also made clear in Philippians 4:11-13 that contentment is not just about stuff but circumstances – wealth and poverty both.

OK, I’ve got this contentment thing down at least for a few seconds. Now to work on godliness.

Contact Daily Journal reporter Errol Castens at (662) 816-1282 or

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    So true.