Morning, February 16, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” — Philippians 4:11
These words show us that contentment is not a natural tendency of man. Noxious weeds grow quickly. Greed, dissatisfaction, and complaining are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We do not need to plant thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are native to earth: and likewise, we do not need to teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education.
But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plow and sow; if we want flowers, there must be a garden, and all the gardener’s care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then, we must be especially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. Paul says, “I have learned to be content;” as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had accomplished it, and could say, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am,” he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave—a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome. We may need to be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him, if we too might by any means attain to his good degree. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented without learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that complaint, though it comes naturally, and continue as a diligent pupil in the College of Contentment.