Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content. (Phi 4:11)I come now to the second branch, which is the main thing, the lesson itself: "In whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
Here was a rare piece of learning, indeed, and certainly more to be wondered at in Paul (that he knew how to turn himself to every condition) than all the learning in the world besides, which has been so applauded in former ages by Julius Caesar, Ptolemy, Xenophon, and all the great admirers of learning.
The text has only a few words in it, "in every state content," but if that is true which Fulgentius once said, that the most golden sentence is ever measured by brevity and suavity, then this is a most accomplished speech. The text is like a precious jewel: little in quantity, but great in worth and value.
The main proposition I shall insist upon is this: a gracious spirit is a contented spirit. The doctrine of contentment is very superlative, and until we have learned this we have not learned to be Christians.
It is a hard lesson. The angels in heaven had not learned it; they were not content. Though their state was glorious, yet they were still soaring aloft and aimed at something higher. Jude 6: "The angels which kept not their first estate." They kept not their state because they were not content with their state. Our first parents clothed with the white robe of innocence in paradise, had not learned to be content. They had aspiring hearts, and thinking their human nature too low and homespun, wanted to be crowned with deity and be as gods (Genesis 3:5). Though they had the choice of all the trees in the garden, yet none would satisfy them but the tree of knowledge, which they supposed would have been as eye-salve to make them omniscient. Oh, then, if this lesson was so hard to learn in innocence, how hard shall we find it who are clogged with corruption?
-Thomas Watson, The Art Of Divine Contentment