Day 15

 

The Scripture

Now godliness with contentment self-mastery is great gain. – 1 Timothy 6:6

 

Heart Thoughts

When I am preparing for my messages I have a deeply entrenched routine. It is a routine that was drilled into me during my days at Moody Bible Institute and Dallas Theological Seminary.  I spend a day or two just meditating on the passage I am going to preach. Then I spend time reading the passage in its original language, comb through the history books to get the setting of the passage clear in mind and then I start a conversation with the commentaries. I open the books of the learned Jewish and non-Jewish scholars on my passage or subject and I enter into a dialogue with them about what I think the passage means and what they say it means.

On this passage, I was struck by one particular word “contentment.”  Contentment in English simply means the quality or state of being personally satisfied. This word seemed out of place in a chapter where all of Paul’s exhortations are verbal commands like “Fight the good fight of faith” and “flee from these things.” To fight and to flee are actions that you undertake because you are not content.  I wondered if perhaps the English word was not properly carrying the freight of its underlying Greek text.

As, I looked in the great lexicons at the Greek word “αὐτάρκης (pronounced ow-tar-kay-us)” I was surprised to find that this word came out of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible from 250 BC called the LXX (aka the Septuagint). The scholars all agreed that this one Greek word was used to translate the Hebrew for “El Shaddai” and it came to mean “self-sufficiency” or self-power.  That is a very different idea than contentment. One commentator, Ben Witherington III, decided to go against the grain and take the word at face value and arrived at this conclusion, “Independence is contrasted with slavery here, and more to the point, godliness with independence or self-control is contrasted with ungodly desires and lack of self-control” (see Letters and Homilies, p. 286).

In other words, when it comes to money you are in control of it, it is not in control of you.  Rabbi Paul is talking like a Rabbi and not like a philosopher. He is admonishing what he and other writers in the Brit Chadashah always admonish: don’t be a slave to anything but be in control of yourself.  Here specifically, Rabbi Paul says you don’t have to be a slave to the desire for more money, you are in control and not a slave to your emotional world.

 

Prayer

May the Lord God of Israel’s hope fill you today. Today, may you walk in authority and dominion and may every weight pulling you back and every chain holding you down be broken off of you. May you walk in victory and not in defeat. May you walk in self-control and not being a slave or controlled by anything or anyone except the Lord God of Abraham!

 

For the Feed

In other words, when it comes to money you are in control of it, it is not in control of you.  Rabbi Paul is talking like a Rabbi and not like a philosopher. He is admonishing what he and other writers in the Brit Chadashah always admonish: don’t be a slave to anything but be in control of yourself.  Here specifically, Rabbi Paul says you don’t have to be a slave to the desire for more money, you are in control and not a slave to your emotional world.