By Bay Baker
Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time learning the original Greek and Hebrew translations of passages in Scripture. Even when I think I won’t be pulling out my phone or computer, I usually end up being intrigued by something, and, yet again, Biblos.com becomes my place of musing. The other morning, Oswald Chambers shed light on the subject of faith:
“Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason — a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world.”
After I read that, I began to ponder what we commonly call “blessing.” The average Christian seldom says when he is suffering, “God’s been good to me. I feel blessed.” That phrase usually comes after a wonderful mountaintop experience wherein the believer finds amazing success or accomplishment or revelation. I looked up the word “blessing” and was redirected to Proverbs 10:22, which reads, “The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, without painful toil for it.”
This verse reminded me of all the times God’s providence has intervened in my life and caused situations to unfold gently and easily. It also reminded me of God’s blessing on the nation of Israel, that after all this time, the Jews are still incredibly financially savvy and creatively ingenious. However, there is a kind of contentment that comes not from an easy life or financial safety. There is a contentment that exists regardless of outward circumstances. I began to ponder Paul’s statement in Philippians 4:11: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
The world “content” is translated from the Greek autarkes, which means “self-sufficient, self-satisfied.” But if we dig a little deeper into the core of this particular word, we find that Philippians 4:11 is the only place in the entire Bible where it is used to refer to the positive self-sufficiency that comes through God. The contentedness Paul is describing here is the kind that comes only through the indwelling power of Christ.
The ancient Greek philosopher Aeschylus also used this word in his Herodotus when writing about chance and luck. He claimed that no man has all his needs satisfied; a rich man may be lacking in good looks, while a man lacking in riches may have good looks in abundance. He didn’t believe in this “autarkes.” He wrote, “no human being is self-sufficient; each person has one thing but lacks another.” It’s true that human beings are not entirely self-sufficient. However, the self-sufficiency we ARE capable of attaining comes from depending solely on God. This kind of dependence is even more intense than depending on others or on oneself because it requires all of the heart, all of the soul, and all of the mind.
Every segment of my being must be completely and totally surrendered to God before I can have this “autarkes.” The One who makes me content is the One in whom I rest. He completes me; why want anything else? The only true and unconditional blessing comes from God Almighty. In His fullness I can truly say, “I have learned to be content.”