The Lord’s Prayer: Give us our bread today – contentment.
Wednesday January 4,2023
A little over an hour ago an email came to me from Ariel Ministries (Arnold Fruchtenbaum) including their prayer list. The opening paragraph read:
On a hillside outside of Capernaum, Yeshua taught His disciples and followers to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11). He also assured them that the heavenly Father knows their needs (Mt. 6:8, 32). Furthermore, He pointed to the heavenly Father as the One who provides if they seek His kingdom as the highest priority (Mt. 6:33). Thus, obeying the admonition, “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself,” is not an expression of a “happy-go-lucky” way of life, but truly an expression of trust that our heavenly Father will take care of us as we fervently labor for Him from one day to the next.
There may be a lot to worry about with the present economic conditions, particularly in Europe, and the spiritual opposition in China and India. Yet the evidence of the Father’s working is abundantly clear as Ariel branches and representatives “seek first His kingdom.” Many are reporting increasing interest in and use of Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s materials, and translation projects are progressing in a number of languages (Chinese, Gujarati, Italian, German, Serbian, Spanish, and French). God is cracking open doors of opportunity for the China and India ministries. At the same time, the needs (which our Father knows) are great, so won’t you please join with us in praying to our heavenly Father?
A lack of contentment is a very serious problem for mankind. Because people are discontent, they make terrible decisions in what they think is the pursuit of happiness. They are never satisfied. They hurt themselves and others.
2Pe 2:12, 14-15
like unreasoning animals … having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way they have gone astray …
To be content is to be satisfied with God’s provisions under His will and to not desire other things outside of His will.
Contentment is hope in the future – seeing a confident and bright future because of God’s grace and mercy and love.
Contentment alone provides the platform for spontaneous joy. The kind of joy I mean is the kind that no one can experience continually, but does infect the mind from time to time. Only content people are open to it. Discontent people know nothing of it and do not experience it.
To be content is to greet every day with rejoicing and expectation. To be content is to live every day, under the multiple and varied conditions each day brings, with inner peace and joy.
To be content is to trust God explicitly and so follow His commandments.
“Give us today our daily bread” – refers to all of our needs which God alone provides. We must be satisfied with them.
1Ti is a pastoral letter from Paul to Timothy in which Paul instructs the young pastor how to behave and work as a pastor and leader, and also on how the church should function in all areas. The letter has at its beginning, midpoint, and end warnings concerning those who speak, teach, and pursue false doctrines. It is in his warning at the end of the letter that Paul contrasts the ways of the false teachers with ways of those who are godly with contentment.
Passages on contentment.
1Ti 6:6 – the profit of godliness with contentment.
In this passage, Paul contrasts the attitudes of the false teachers to what Timothy’s (and all believers) attitude should be. The discontented teachers of falsehood provide a background for the description of a believer’s contentment.
If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
The implication is that the false teachers were looking for payment for their instruction. The end of the paragraph shows this to be the case. This shows us:
Falsehood will not make contentment and ends up seeking for something else (money).
Another indicator of discontentment is the morbid interest in questions (“controversial” is added by the translators). Whether they are controversial or not, they are things that likely have no solid answers. What they love is debate, which is the pursuit of recognition for being right or seeming to win the argument.
Quite amazing, I think, is that these discontented elites and scholars imagine the godliness of Christianity to be a source of profit. But they fail to see that the profit is Christianity itself and not something else like money or prestige.
The profit of godliness comes when godliness (Christ-likeness) alone is utmost desired – contentment with God alone.
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
This contentment Paul ties to material things by the famous line, “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out either.” And in light of the actions of the false teachers, this would include the mental equivalent of material lust which is the desire to be admired and envied. To win the argument that has no real answer is to be admired as intelligent and witty, etc.
And in the same way as our Lord put it when He used the sparrows and the lilies as examples, if we have the bare essentials to live, “with these we shall be content.” The problem, which disrupts the soul is the desire to get rich, or as Paul puts it, “the love of money.” The love of money is not the love of God. Money has taken God’s seat of authority in the soul. When something that promises happiness but cannot deliver, like money, and it is put in charge of the soul, a lie has become the master. And as Paul states, such become foolish and fall into harmful desires which plunge them into ruin and destruction.
Having riches is not immoral or sinful. If one is following God’s will and becomes wealthy, wonderful. But they have to be careful, for money more than anything, can make a person proud. Paul makes clear that the rich are not called to poverty, but they must be instructed not to become conceited or prideful. This is the sin.
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
Let’s look at the word “contentment.”
But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
“Contentment” (noun; vs. 6): autarkeia – 1) external: state of having what is adequate, sufficiency.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.
In vs. 8 it is modified by pasan (all). Being content with God’s provision of “daily bread” will mean that we are happy, gracious givers.
Notice how often Paul uses the word “all” in this passage as well as “always” and “everything” and “every”. God does nothing half-way. The context of this passage is gracious giving by the joyful Christian who knows that God will provide seed to the sower. How much seed is not stated. Some have thought that this is the key to getting rich, but that is not stated, plus, that attitude is a love of money rather than God.
2) internal: state of being content with one’s circumstances, contentment, self-sufficiency.
Both types of contentment are in view in 1Ti 6:6. We have enough and God will always provide externally, and because we have God with us forever, we shall be content with whatever happens. But to do this, we will have to control our flesh.
There is a link from this word to God’s name El Shaddai which means “God all-sufficient,” and is usually translated “God Almighty.” It is questionable whether “Shaddai” means Almighty, and in the context of Jacob’s prophecy concerning his son Joseph, the name refers to provision and sufficiency.
From the God of your father who helps you,
And by the Almighty who blesses you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
In extrabiblical Greek autarkeia is synonymous with sophrosune which means reasonableness or self-control. This brings the flesh into the light. While a believer may agree with the principle of contentment with whatever God gives, his flesh will always tempt him to reach out for more, or something else that is not of the will of God. The pursuit of the will of the flesh puts us in the sphere of the false teachers who were very discontent and who needed constant recognition and affirmation.
Contentment is linked with self-control because the flesh will tempt us to set off in search of something the Father hasn’t given us (ungodly).
This is shown in Php 4:11-13.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Php 4:11 uses autarkes (adjective). The ability to be in privation shows self-control. It is contentment with what God gives and not seeking in the world for more.
The concept of hunger and thirst runs through the Bible. It is a perfect picture of mankind’s basic needs. God uses these basic survival needs to represent our spiritual needs. God responds with the word satisfy in unison with the word humble, but not only humble but also the word for abounding (perisseuo; “prosperity” in Php 4:12). There might be a good connection here to the Lord’s use of perisseuo in the Sermon on the Mount, for the “exceptional person” who can do good to his enemy. To do good to our enemies is to forgive them and possess contentment despite what they do to us. which would be another form of contentment.