Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.…
1. This is a command given by one of the ablest professors in the school of Christ. Different schools turn out different sorts of scholars. A military school is understood to turn out good fighting soldiers; a law school good lawyers; a medical school good doctors; a classical school good scholars; the school of Christ a certain style of manhood after the pattern of Christ.
2. Here is a man trained in this school, and now a teacher. He is a prisoner, advanced in life, most sensitive, one who had been subjected to every pain and indignity, who lived a life enough to make anyone turn pale; and yet after all he had undergone he says, "Let your disposition be such that you will see how many things you have to be thankful for; and when you ask for anything do it through the radiant atmosphere of gratitude." When the pendulum swung up and Paul was in the midst of abundance he knew how to be a simple humble man; and when it swung to the other extreme and he bore chains, he said, "I have learned to be content. My manhood is more than my condition. I am master of circumstances, they are not master of me." Such was the style of manhood to be turned out in the school of Christ.
3. I am far from saying that this is easy or rapid of attainment; but I do say that such is the ideal portraiture of Christianity in the school of Christ. His school is like every other in that there is a difference of apprehensiveness in the scholars; but from the lowest to the highest there is this ideal set before them which they are to strive after — to give power to the inward man, to overcome appetites and passions, to endure troubles of every kind, and not stoically but rejoicingly, to have a hope that quenches fear, faith that annihilates doubt, endurance that can bear as much as God lays on. Not every man that comes from the university is a perfect scholar, but there is a bright ideal held up, and if the scholar does not approximate to it in a measure it is not the fault of the university but his own.
4. Can this ideal of Christianity ever be set aside? We live in a sceptical age, but a thing that has happened is a fact; and nothing can make it not to have happened; and since religion discloses what it is to live in Christ Jesus, and lifts up the conception of our higher being in its developed state, we are not going to lose it out of the world. There is nothing so powerful as a soul brought under such inspiration as St. Paul's, and no scepticisms will ever sweep it away. If you can live as Paul lived, and as thousands of Christians have lived, by other than Christian instrumentalities, then you are bound to show what they are, and where they are to be found.
5. If Paul's conception of the Christian life be true then every other is false — the ascetic view, e.g., pain, self-denial, of course, come, but with them come a spirit that welcomes the pain and turns the cross into a benediction.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.