Contentment (Published 1984)

There are five New Testament verses upon which we shall comment in this paper: Luke 3. 14; Phil. 4. 11; 1 Tim. 6. 6; 6. 8; Heb. 13. 5.

1. Contentment with Wages, Luke 3. 14

According to this chapter, John the Baptist was asked three times, “what shall we do?”. The question was asked by the people, v. 10; the publicans, v. 12, and by the soldiers, v. 14. The answer given to the soldiers was, “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages”. Where is this contentment today? Mankind desires, yea, demands, higher wages. Frequently there is the cry for more money and a reduction in working time. We who are fortunate enough to have employment should be content with the wages we have.

2. Contentment in “whatsoever state”, Phil. 4. 11

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”. See also verses 12-13. Moses knew contentment, Exod. 2. 21; Lev. 10. 20. But in the contentment of the apostle Paul, the phrase “in whatsoever state I am” is to be noted. The apostle knew different “states” (indeed he wrote this in prison), and in each state contentment was his happy portion. He always had enough, v. 18, “I have all, and abound: I am full”. His sufficient was Christ-sufficiency.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
More than all in Thee I find.

3. Contentment and Godliness, 1 Tim. 6. 6

The Bible student with an interest in Greek will notice that the noun autarkeia (from autarkes in Phil. 4. 11) used here also appears in 2 Corinthians 9. 8, “always having all sufficiency in all things”.

Contentment is to be accompanied by godliness. Am I living godly in the present course of things? Notice and ponder the references to godliness in this Epistle: 1, 4; 2. 2, 10; 3. 16; 4. 7, 8; 6. 3, 5, 6, 11. The verse under consideration is a continuation from, and contrast to, verse 5, “supposing that gain is godliness”.

4. Contentment with Food and Clothing, 1 Tim. 6. 8

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content”. May we be content with that which many in the world are lacking. Verse 5 leads on to verse 6, 6 to 7, and 7 to 8. In Matthew 6. 21-32, the Lord Jesus speaks about food and clothing, and says, “take no thought”—that is, “stop worrying”. In our verse, Paul says “be content” when writing to Timothy about food and clothing.

5. Contentment with whatever we have, Heb. 13. 5

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he (God) hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”. See verse 6. Some saints have more possessions than others, but we all have one possession in common, the presence of God; He never leaves and never forsakes. The precious promise is His (in “he hath said”, the word He is emphatic: He Himself hath said), and the exceeding joy and comfort found in the promise is ours. Well might we be content!

It should be stated that the verb in Luke 3. 14; 1 Timothy 6. 8 and Hebrews 13. 5 appears also in 2 Corinthians 12. 9, as well as in other verses: “My grace is sufficient for thee”. Praise the Saviour for His sufficient grace, sufficient for all and in any circumstance.

As believers we should ever seek to have that degree of contentment which was seen in its perfection in our Lord when here below, as is characterized in His utterance, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight”, Matt. 11. 26; Luke 10. 21.