die Genügsamkeit (pl. -en) – contentment
die Art, mit wenig zufrieden zu sein
The state of being satisfied with little
1 Timotheus 6,6 Die Gottseligkeit aber mit Genügsamkeit ist ein großer Gewinn;
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
I disagreed with that dictionary definition when I first read it. I see contentment more as being satisfied with what you have, not necessarily with little.
But then, I realised that Genügsamkeit can also be translated as frugality and modesty.
It isn’t used to refer to the kind of contentment that I’m thinking of.
In another verse, it talks about contentment in terms of something that can be had in any circumstance:
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I took a look at the German version:
Philipper 4,11 Nicht daß ich dies des Mangels halber sage, denn ich habe gelernt, worin ich bin, mich zu begnügen.
Now, this word, begnügen, is the one that I have understood for the meaning of contentment.
Its definition (from Wiktionary): sich mit etwas Einfachem oder mit weniger zufrieden sein, als man haben könnte. To be satisfied with something simple or with less than one might have.
In Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament, both verses use the same root word (αὐταρκεία and αὐτάρκης – self-sufficiency).
Initially, I wondered, Is there no noun that conveyed this meaning in German? I couldn’t find any from my attempts at the dictionary (though there were other nouns for “contentment”).
But then, I went back to the source. I looked at 1 Timothy 6 again.
In 1 Timothy 6:5, there is mention of gain, and people mistaking having it for godliness:
“Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
In light of that, then, it would make sense to use a word that conveys not only “contentment”, but also “having little”.
Context always matters.