Not that I speak in respect of want - I am quite unconcerned in this respect; leaving the whole of my support, while bound for the testimony of Jesus, to the providence of God.
For I have learned - I am so satisfied with the wise providence and goodness of God, that I know whatever he determines is the best; and therefore I am perfectly contented that he should govern the world in that way which seems best to his godly wisdom. How true is the proverb, A contented mind is a continual feast! What do we get by murmuring and complaining?
Not that I speak in respect of want - Though Paul was doubtless often in circumstances of necessity, yet he did not make these remarks on that account. In his journeys, in his imprisonments, he could not but be at times in want; but be had learned to bear all this; and that which most impressed itself on his mind was the interest which the church ought to show in the cause of religion, and the evidence which it would thus furnish of attachment to the cause. As to his own personal trials, he had learned to bear them, so that they did not give him great uneasiness.
For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content - That is, to have a contented mind. Paul says that he had “learned” this. Probably by nature he had a mind as prone to impatience as others, but he had been in circumstances fitted to produce a different state of feeling. He had had ample experience 2 Corinthians 11:26, and, in his life of trials, he had acquired invaluable lessons on the subject. He had had abundant time for reflection, and he had found that there was grace enough in the gospel to enable him to bear trials with resignation. The considerations by which he had been taught this, he does not state; but they were probably such as the following: that it is wrong to complain at the allotments of Providence; that a spirit of impatience does no good, remedies no evil, and supplies no want; that God could provide for him in a way which he could not foresee, and that the Saviour was able abundantly to sustain him. A contented mind is an invaluable blessing, and is one of the fruits of religion in the soul. It arises from the belief that God is right in all his ways. Why should we be impatient, restless, discontented? What evil will be remedied by it? what want supplied? what calamity removed? “He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast” Proverbs 15:15; and one of the secrets of happiness is to have a mind satisfied with all the allotments of Providence. The members of the Episcopal church beautifully pray, every day: “Give us minds always contented with our present condition.” No prayer can be offered which will enter more deeply into all our happiness on earth.
My brother I do not feel to give you one word of censure, saying you were imprudent, overzealous. I would have done just as you did. Had you foreseen all, you might have saved yourself much suffering; but you did not see, and you acted out your zeal and devotion to the cause of truth, and some others may be responsible for not doing their duty. But I blame you not.—Letter 5a, 1891. RY 75.1
The eye of the Lord has been upon you. He has desired to open before you a way to do the work that you are capable of doing. Sister S, the Lord will give you the power of comprehending that in your own strength you cannot control yourself. You have the idea that everything must be done in your way. When you see others in active service, you are tempted to think that you are left out; and for this reason you easily become impatient. RY 75.2Read in context »