This leads to a question: For the Christian how much is enough? Paul's principle implies a standard of material sufficiency that is minimal indeed. Food and clothing ought to be enough. While Paul may be quoting popular philosophy, it is far more likely that he is drawing from the model of Christ (Mt 6:25-34; Lk 12:16-21). He does not say anything negative about living above this minimum standard, though he will teach that life at a higher material level carries with it heavy obligations. But he does say that real contentment and material prosperity have nothing to do with one another. And acquisitiveness has nothing to do with godliness.
How can the Christian learn to be content with simple living? Certainly not by accepting the standards set by this world. Paul suggests that an eternal perspective and an attitude of detachment toward things are prerequisites. As an eternal perspective develops, dependence on things material will decline.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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