Image: Fall scene in North Garden, Virginia.
In 1654 the Puritan pastor Thomas Watson published a devotional work titled The Art of Divine Contentment, an extended meditation on Philippians 4:11: “I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.”
In one section of this work, Watson urges his readers to ponder three postures or conditions they hold while in the world:
We are in a military condition; we are soldiers (2 Timothy 2:3). Now, a soldier is content with anything. Though he does not have his stately house, his rich furniture, his soft bed, or his full table, yet he does not complain. He can lie in straw as well as in down. He does not mind his lodging, but his thoughts run upon dividing the spoil and the garland of honor that shall be upon his head…..
We are in a sojourning condition; we are pilgrims and travelers. A man who is in a strange country is content with any diet or custom; he is glad for anything. Though he does not have that respect or attention that he looks for at home, and though he is not capable of the privileges and immunities of that place, yet he is content. He knows that when he comes into his own country he has lands to inherit and shall live there having honor and respect…..
We are in a mendicant position; we are beggars. We beg at heaven’s gate. “Give us this day our daily bread.” We live upon God’s alms; therefore we must be content with anything. A beggar must not pick or choose; he is content with the refuse. Oh, why do you murmur, you who are a beggar and are fed out of the alms-basket of God’s providence! [Soli Deo Gloria edition, 2001: pp. 119-120].
As we enjoy the holiday season, may the Lord give us a spirit of contentedness whatever our external circumstances, as we consider that in this life we are soldiers, pilgrims, and beggars.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
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