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The Rare Jewel of Contentment

In the course of this last year I received a book entitled:  "The Glory of Grace:  An Introduction to the Puritans".  Now before you quit reading this, let me say that the depth of faith, spirit, and love for God and the Gospel of Christ is unmatched anywhere else in most of the Church's history in the Puritans.  They are often given a bad interpretation as sullen, angry, and dour...not believing that Christians should be happy or have pleasure.  That bad interpretation is just that - bad.  It is not true of them; and anyone who reads their writings can witness of that.

In a recent reading I came across Jeremiah Burroughs, an English pastor who wrote and served in the early to mid 17th century.  He was a Nonconformist, as most Puritans were...which meant that he would not submit his ministry, nor the preaching of the word to either governmental or hierarchal church authorities.  Many of the Puritans (remember John Bunyan) were put in jails for years sometimes for their unwillingness to do anything other than be free to preach the Gospel.

The work that Burroughs wrote that intrigued me was one "On Contentment".  It was actually called, "The Rare Jewel of Contentment".  In it he both defines and considers what it means both biblically and practically for the believer to live contentedly.

Definition:  "Contentment is that sweet inward quiet gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition (or circumstance)."

Besides loving the free flowing adjectives that he speaks of to describe Contentment, it's the recognition that God is Providentially a good father who dispenses His Grace in all of our circumstances that leads the believer to be content.  It's not our happiness - which depends upon the happenings being pleasant to us - but rather the faithful Providence of our Father who "works all things together for the good of those that he loves" (Romans 8:28).

Burroughs goes on to say:  "the Believer lives with the Dew of God's Blessings daily....and a person who knows of God's goodness and grace, and delights in him may have little, but is much more content that a rich person who has much but knows nothing of God's grace."

He then goes on to give 5 things to Consider about the "little":
1.  Our "little" is a token of God's love.
2.  Our "little" is God's means of our Sanctification.  (i.e., our hearts are drawn to see what God has given us first, and not what might not have.)
3.  Our "little" is God's gift given to us without Payment... Grace is given, not earned, and it is because we are children of God who receive from God the Father, our Adopted Father.
4.  Our "little" is our right purchased in God through Jesus Christ our redeemer who purchased all for us through his sacrifice for us.
5.  Our "little" is the first installment of God towards Eternal Glory.

Lastly:  How then do we Practically attain Contentment (besides Considering these things above)?
1.  Choose first to interpret life as the outworking of God's Good Ways towards us.  i.e. Be careful not to entertain bad interpretations of God because of circumstances we don't enjoy.

2.  Don't let other people and their possessions define your Contentment -  "Do not let others be lords of your comforts", said the ancient early church teacher, John Chrysostom.

3.  Don't make your present comforts and possessions the focus of your Joy.  Jesus warned of that in the Sermon on the mount.

I might muse on this for a while...  Peace to you!

Comments

linmcnab said…
I love that definition of contentment.....it is the sweet spot that’s my goal. Not that I’ve achieved it often.

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