Self-sufficiency was considered a virtue in Greek culture. The Greek word for content, autarkes, means to be self-sufficient or independent. However, the Bible offers a different view of this concept than the Stoic philosophers of biblical days. The Stoics believed that contentment was reached by being resigned to one’s situation. It was a term that referred to total indifference, a sort of ancient version of WHATEVER!
The Apostle Paul’s discussion of contentment in Philippians 4 had nothing to do with Stoic indifference. His contentment was rooted in his faith. The deep joy he felt while in jail came through his relationship with God and His goodness in all that happened. Paul’s union in Christ, God in Him and with Him, was the secret to being content.
Paul could rejoice in trials because of the fruit they bore and the strength and courage that resulted, not because he had some twisted need to suffer. His words to us regarding being content in any situation are backed up by his own difficult and glorious experiences in life. God strengthened him to persevere during difficult and thrive during abundance. He came to understand that contentment was learned through his relationship with God, not through his circumstances. Paul never complained that he was a victim of circumstances. He did not worry because he knew God would supply all his needs. That is why he tells us that he could be content with much or little–a striking contrast to our present day thinking.
Except from Letting Go of Worry, Harvest House, 2011. Click here to order.