Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.
No doctrine of contentment must be so taught as to lessen a man's labours in the removal of his miseries and the improvement of his state. Contentment is of the spirit, and should be no discouragement to labour. If I have only one coat to my back, am I to sit down and say, "I am perfectly content"? No. I must be content with one whilst I have but one, but my contentment must not hinder me from trying to see my way to get two. Cinderella, while among the ashes, was content in spirit, though she strove to get out of the nastiness of the ashes. But I see people sometimes who are so friendly with their miserable circumstances that they never want to mend them — men at home with dirt and women with slovenliness, until they come to like it. It is true that if you have got to live with an ugly person you must try to settle down; but not with dirt, disease, ignorance, poverty. Under no plea of content should a man refuse the lawful means of enlargement and betterment. If you took possession of a new garden and allowed it to remain always full of weeds, and then if you took me round and said, "I have been here so many years; my garden is always full of weeds, but I am perfectly content" — my duty then would be to worry you, and try to make you discontented. A man who is content in the midst of a weedy garden is ingloriously content; he lets his circumstances degrade him. No wise contentment bears for one moment longer than is necessary a removable misery. It is our duty rather to unite with the utmost care for the healing of the wound, the patientest bearing of the suffering from the wound. He who, having a wound, did not seek to cure it, would degrade himself; but he who, while patiently bearing the necessary wound, seeks to cure it, is a contented man.
(G. Dawson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.