I am creating this week's discussion post a day early because tomorrow is going to be a busy day for some of us. Consider the following quote from Burroughs: "A carnal heart has no contentment from what he sees before him in this world, but a godly heart has contentment from what he sees laid up for him in the highest heavens." Earlier, Burroughs had made the point that Christian contentment is a mysterious paradox: the godly man is the most contented man in the world, and the most unsatisfied man in the world. Whatever his circumstances in this life, he rests content, and yet he is never content merely with his circumstances. But the contentment of the godly man rests in God alone, as the Psalmist says in Psalm 73:25, "Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee." This is what is "laid up" for us in the highest heaven: an eternal Day in the presence of our Creator. This is why the carnal heart (the fleshly, worldly heart) cannot have contentment. This though reminds me of the book of Ecclesiastes. Life under the sun (life lived focused merely on this life) is vanity of vanities and vexation of spirit. This is why the existentialists pined away about the absurdity of human existence. They are without God and without hope in the world. I also see this quote as a sort of barometer for our spiritual health. Do I find contentment in my circumstances by looking forward to the great hope that lies before me? Or does my "contentment" ebb and flow with the current of life's sea? Is my heart carnal, set upon this world; or is my heart godly, set upon Christ? Is it true of my heart that I cannot be satisfied by anything (or anyone) besides the Lord my God? What were some of your thoughts regarding this week's reading?
Consider the following quote from Burroughs: "Where contentment of heart springs from grace, the heart is very quick and lively in the service of God!" The conception of contentment with which I grew up was a sort of Stoic impassivity, putting on a good face and suppressing emotions. It was merely bracing yourself against the storms and tempests of afflictions that confront us. Yet, if we look to the Scriptures, we see that is not the biblical meaning of contentment; as Burroughs points out, contentment borne of grace is not satisfied to merely survive through afflictions, but to glorify God by active service in them. We need only look to Paul for evidence of this (though we could look at every apostolic example in the New Testament). Paul went from city to city, oftentimes suffering physical violence at the hands of those to whom he preached. Yet, he never shrunk from his service to God. Even when he was jailed, he continued diligently in that service by writing letters to the churches which he planted and ministering to his persecutors. The one who was taught to be content in all circumstances was by no means a Stoic! But he used his afflictions as opportunities to further serve the Master. Let this be an example to us. When we are under the gloomy clouds of dark providences, let us remember to serve our Master; to seek first his kingdom. Rather than asking, "How long must I bear this burden," let us ask instead: "Lord, how would you use me in this affliction?" This is how we submit to the wise disposal of God in all things. What were some of your thoughts?
Our book for next month (the next two months actually) will be The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. Plan on reading one chapter a week. is available for free at this link: https://www.chapellibrary.org/book/rjoc/rare-jewel-of-christian-contentment-the-burroughsjeremiah