Scriptural Gem for December 2012

In Philippians 4:10-13 we read: 'I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.'

When we think of the meaning of 'contentment' in everyday English, we naturally think in terms of 'being satisfied' or even 'in a state of bliss'. Often we hear parents reminding their children to 'be content with what they have'. However, in the original Greek the concept of being content means something different altogether. The original Greek word for 'contentment' is 'Autarkes' which means 'strong enough to need no external support' with the root word being 'Arkeo' which means 'to be posessed of unfailing strength'.

It is clear from the above that what the original Greek wants to convey is that 'contentment' is not a state of bliss or simply being satisfied with what one has. According to the original Greek meaning, contentment - the kind that Paul is writing about - is only achieved and real in one's life when you remain standing, displaying unfailing strength when all external supports or crutches are taken away... No wonder then that Paul adds in verse 13 - 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' Contentment, in terms of the original meaning is only possible in the strength of Christ.

O Lord, please show us the crutches in our lives that we are leaning on and the things that are keeping us upright other than yourself. We want to have only you sustaining us, we want to be truly content. Amen