“We must be ready to give up everything for [Christ]. We must be willing to go downwards, in order that Christ’s name may ascend upwards, and be the better known and glorified among men.”
It is difficult to be content. Indeed, Charles Spurgeon knew this well, which is why he considered contentment to be “not the least among [Paul’s] manifold acquisitions.” In Spurgeon’s view, true contentment was even better than a prestigious Cambridge degree. After all, contentment “surely is the highest degree in humanities to which a man can possibly attain.”
The perennial problem however, was that man’s heart was filled is discordant desires. As Spurgeon said, “Ill weeds grow apace; covetousness, discontent, and murmuring, are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil.” Indeed, if believers wanted “wheat” instead of “thorns” they must be willing to “plow and sow.”
In the first section of his sermon, Spurgeon spoke to “the Poor” in his congregation. First he reminded them that the apostle Paul knew how to be “abased.” Indeed, “When all men honour us, then we may be very content,” but, “when the finger of scorn is pointed at us…it requires much gospel knowledge to be able to endure that with patience and with cheerfulness.” Further still, Spurgeon acknowledged that it was hard “to hear another man praised at your own expense.”
Indeed, Spurgeon insisted to his congregation that, “We must be ready to give up everything for [Christ].” Nothing was to be excepted, rather, “We must be willing to go downwards, in order that Christ’s name may ascended upwards, and be better known and glorified among men.”
Second, Spurgeon reminded his congregation that Paul knew how to “abound.” Here he pointedly said that “There are a great many men that know a little how to be based, that do not know at all how to abound.” Unfortunately, and often, when men are “put on top of the pinnacle, their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall.”
Again, Spurgeon lamented that “The Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity than when he is abased.” Simply, there was another danger – “the danger of growing worldly.” Indeed, it is incredible “how gold will stick to the fingers.” For Spurgeon, the goal was to be like the apostle Paul who “when he had much knew how to use it,” because “he asked of God that he might be kept humble.”
In the second section of his sermon, Spurgeon turned to exhort “the Rich.” Here he warned that “it is quite possible for discontentment to sit on the throne, as it is to sit on a chair.” Indeed, Spurgeon called his hearers to “remember that a man’s contentment is in his mind, not in the extent of his possessions.” In his view, it was quite possible for “men with vast estates” to be plagued by the “old-horse leech in their hearts, which always cries, ‘Give, give! more more!’”
However, Spurgeon’s exhortations to contentment were not limited to material wealth. After all, when a man “has enough wealth and property, he has not always enough honour.” Indeed, Spurgeon lamented, “men are not easily satisfied with honour.” Turning to his congregation he counselled, “learn to be content with the office you hold….we must be content with the honour God is pleased to confer upon us.”
In the third, and final section of his sermon, Spurgeon fixed his attention on “the Sufferers.” While he noted that “all men are born to sorrow,” he acknowledged that “some men are born to a double portion of it.” Such were the “Jeremiah’s of our race,” who may never “know and hour free from pain.” To such as these, Spurgeon tenderly said, “Yet a little while, the painful conflict will be over. Courage, comrades, courage.”
But, those who suffered well could also be a great encouragement and model to the saints. As Spurgeon said, “When I see a man’s suffering, and suffering bravely, I often feel small in his presence.” The key was to remember what Christ had accomplished at the cross, for “as long as you are out of hell, gratitude may mingle with your groans.”
Why you should take up and read:
It is hard to be content, especially for hearts prone to wander and filled with discordant desires. Charles Spurgeon knew that “Ill weeds grow apace” but harvesting “wheat” required much “plowing and sowing.” Simply, Christian contentment is hard work. However, it is necessary work, for “we must be willing to go downwards, in order that Christ’s name may ascend upwards.” For the one seeking to grow in contentment so that Christ will be “glorified among men,” please take up and read.
Here is the link to the Sermon of the Week:https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/contentment#flipbook/
Phillip Ort serves at the Director of The Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City where he is also pursuing a Master of Divinity degree.