The word “contentment” comes from the Greek word “arkeo” meaning “to be enough” or “to be sufficient”. At times the New Testament shifts the emphasis. It’s not simply that something is in sufficient supply, but that we have an attitude that lets us be satisfied with whatever is available – L. Richard’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, p. 189 and Vine, Unger, and White’s An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, p. 226.
The Greek word “autarkeia” denotes freedom from reliance upon others, whether other persons or other things; hence the satisfaction of one’s needs (2 Cor. 9:8) or the control of one’s desires (1 Tim. 6:6, 8). It’s not a passive acceptance of the status quo, but the positive assurance that God has supplied one’s needs, and the consequent release from unnecessary desire. The Christian can be self-contained because he has been satisfied by the grace of God (2 Cor. 12:9) – J. Douglas’ The New Bible Dictionary, p. 250.
Contentment is that disposition of mind, through grace, in which one is independent of outward circumstances (Phil.4:11; 1 Tim. 6:6, 8), so as not to be moved by envy (James 3:16), anxiety/worry (Matt. 6:25, 34), and longing for something (1 Cor. 10:10) – Unger’s Bible Dictionary, p. 219.
Prov. 15:16 What is better than what?
Why is having little with the fear of the Lord better than having great treasure and turmoil with it (Psa. 31:19; 115:13; 147:11; Prov. 19:23)?
What kind of turmoil might having great treasure lead to, and why?
Prov. 15:17 What is better than what?
Which would you prefer, and why?
Prov. 16:8 What is better than what?
In what way would having little with being righteous be better than having great income gained through injustice/dishonesty?
Are you ever tempted to gain great wealth through dishonest means because you’re not content with what you have, and why?
Prov. 17:1 What is better than what?
Would you be content with a dry morsel for meals if it meant having quietness/peace regularly in your home/family rather than having lots of food if it meant having constant strife/tension/fighting/yelling in your home/family, and why?
Prov. 30:8-9 With what would Agur be content, and why?
Would you be content in life if you only had enough food to eat in order to remain nutritionally alive and functioning, and why?
Eccles. 5:10-16 What is pleasant/sweet to the working man/person whether he eats little or much?
Would you be content with a job/career that God gave you (even if it pays only minimum wage) and you barely had enough money to buy some food, but you could sleep well at night because it was honest work and, therefore, you could have a clear conscience and peace of mind, and why?
Or, would you rather be rich and have a full stomach, but not be able to sleep at night because of a guilty conscience or fear of harm that might be done to you because your riches were obtained through injustice/dishonesty or through uncompassionate means, or because people were envious of you and wanted to steal what you had, and why?
Lk. 3:12-14 What were the soldiers who came to John to be baptized told to be content with?
Are you content/satisfied with your wages from your job, and why?
Should you be, and why?
Do you think that John the Baptist’s statement on contentment here would, therefore, forbid believers/Christians from going on strike due to dissatisfaction with wages?
Phil. 4:11-13 What did Paul learn (Phil. 4:11)?
What does the fact that Paul said he “learned” contentment (sufficiency, adequacy) imply?
Have you learned (gained/acquired through experience, study, or instruction) to be content (sufficient/adequate) in whatever circumstances you’re in?
If so, how, and why?
How did Paul come to be content with the circumstances he found himself in while serving God (being hungry or filled; having abundance materially or suffering need – temporarily lacking the basics of life, 1 Cor. 4:11; 2 Cor.11:27) according to Phil. 4:13?
If you haven’t learned to be content in the circumstances/situations you find yourself in while in the center of God’s will, how could you – Phil. 4:13?
[When Paul says that he “can do all things through Him who strengthens me”, he means that Christ gives him the ability to persevere and keep on going in spite of his circumstances.].
Are you tapping into the resources/ability that Christ can give you to persevere and keep going in God’s will in spite of your circumstances, and why?
1 Tim. 6:6-8 Godliness is a means of great gain (e.g., peace with God, spiritual joy, assurance of salvation, all things working together for good, rewards in heaven, etc.) when accompanied by what?
In what other ways would godliness with contentment (self sufficiency, or being independent of outward circumstances, or satisfaction) be a means of great gain?
Why is accumulating material or financial wealth for one’s self vain/stupid – 1 Tim. 6:7?
What should we Christians be satisfied with (1 Tim. 6:8)?
Are you or would you be content in life simply by having food, clothing, and shelter, and why?
What does wanting to get rich lead to (1 Tim. 6:9)?
What is the love of money a root of (1 Tim. 6:10)?
What should the Christian flee and then pursue instead (1 Tim. 6:11)?
Are you fleeing these also and, then, pursuing the other things?
If so, why?
Does being content with what you have mean that you can’t pursue any personal goals or excel in anything, such as: more knowledge; more Christian materials, better virtues or skills; better equipment or facilities for serving God more effectively; and/or excellence in our evangelism, building up believers spiritually, and/or training Christians for the work of the service (Eph. 4:12)?
Why (see 1 Thes. 4:1, 10; 2 Tim. 2:22; Phil. 3:10, 14; Col. 3:23; 1 Cor. 9:24; 14:1; Heb. 6:1)?
[Being content doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for Christ-like perfection or for things which can/will further the kingdom of God more effectively. Contentment seems to revolve around our not being self-centered (e.g., greedy, covetous, egocentric, etc.).].
Heb. 13:5-6 What should we Christians be content with, and why?
What should our life/character be free from?
When you look for a job/career, ministry, or way of spending the rest of your life, is the main, determining factor for what you choose based on how much money you’ll get, and why?
What should the main factor be for Christians looking for a job or ministry (Matt. 28:19-20; Rom. 14:19; 1 Thes.5:11; 1 Pet. 1:14-16)?
Why (Phil. 2:2 with Phil. 1:27; Eph. 4:11-13)?