We have to paint the pictures ourselves!
(J.R. Miller, "Evening Thoughts" 1907)
"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Philippians 4:11-12
We are always at school. Our business here on earth, is to learn.
The Christian virtues and graces are not put into our lives, as one hangs up pictures on the wall of a room — finished and perfect in their beauty. Rather, we have to paint the pictures ourselves!
Paul tells us that he had learned contentment. It did not come into his life at his conversion, as a gift from his new Master.
The word he uses indicates, too, that the learning was not easy. He says he knew both how to be filled and to be hungry. That is, his contentment did not depend on circumstances. He had the secret in his own heart, and he was content through all manner of experiences.
But it was not always so with him. His contentment was not a matter of temperament, nor was it a divine gift — he had learned it! Nor was he a young man when he said this — it had taken him years to learn the lesson.
It is the same with all the beautiful things in Christian character — we have to learn them! We have to learn to be patient, to be thoughtful, to be at peace, to be loving, to be kind, to be humble and meek.