This week, I'd like to consider the following quote from Burroughs: "This is the first lesson that Christ teaches any soul: self-denial, which brings contentment, which brings down and softens a man’s heart." I have also been reading a book by Thomas Manton entitled "A Treatise on Self-Denial," and I cannot help but to think, firstly, of the first chapter of 1 Corinthians. The apostle Paul, in laying forth the necessity of preaching only Christ and him crucified, tells us that God turns the wisdom of the world on its head in order to destroy any boasting ability in men.
How true is this in regards to contentment. The world would have us believe that contentment is the product of self-fulfillment. Let me but fill my desires, and I shall be content. I simply need more "me time" to turn my mood around. But as Burroughs rightly points out, the root of discontentment is actually self-fulfillment. We are discontent in this world because we consider ourselves as more than we are, and believe that our desires are required to be met. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. As Burroughs said, we are in fact worse than nothing; we are not simply devoid of any goodness, but we are filled with sin.
The first lesson of contentment is self-denial. It is easy to be content when we realize that our life is not about us. When we cast aside the desires and aspirations we have for ourselves and instead devote ourselves to the will of God like a sacrifice (Rom. 12:1), it is no large thing to be content in the direst of circumstances. It is simple to say that, and to know it doctrinally. But applying it is the battle. Are you discontent in your marriage? With your kids? With your job? With your finances? It is because you are not denying yourself. Let us strive to put on this mindset, which the Lord Jesus had (Phil. 2)!
What were some of your thoughts on our reading this week?