Serving an international
Vol. 10 No. 1 January 2008
Yesterday, as I was visiting with a friend who was almost killed and paralyzed from the chest down when struck by a drunken driver, but who, with great courage, faith and determination continued to study, write and go to school, she mentioned to me that an elder had said something to her about being content when she was in the nursing home.
Since she was continuing her studies in Abilene
Christian University in Greek and Bible (having received her degree
Junior College after she suffered the injury), she looked in her Greek
We usually think of contentment merely as a passive state of willingness to “put up with” whatever state we are in, assuming that when Paul said, “I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content” (Philippians4:11) that he meant that he did not gripe and complain too much about it. Her short conversation about it suggested that we should consider its primary meaning as being more significant. That is, contentment comes, not because of a passive acceptance of whatever our condition may be, but because there is a “perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed” inasmuch as God has granted one whatever he needs to face life and conquer it! Can you imagine one who has suffered through years of privation and rejection, and months of physical and mental agony coming to a conclusion that she may be able to be content, not just because she will not complain of her lot, but because she has in herself, by God’s grace and power, sufficiency to carry on “independently of external circumstances” as Thayer puts it!
I think she is beginning to see what Paul meant about his thorn in the flesh, and “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Corinthians 12:9). For this word “sufficient” is the same root word, “arkeo.”
Because one has contentment — “sufficient strength, ability, power to do whatever needs to be done”— one may be content — “satisfied with his condition.”
It is perhaps worthy of note that the same word is used
One conclusion to which I have come is that “contentment,” from the Bible viewpoint, is not merely a passive willingness to bear whatever comes, but a vital, living, active power to overcome and conquer through the strength and grace of God! Indeed, “Godliness with contentment is great gain,” for then “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians4:13). It is noteworthy that he said this only 3 verses after he had said, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content (autarkes).”