Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment 2

February 9, 2017

B. What contentment is opposed to

But what, then, it will be asked, is this quietness of spirit opposed to?

1. It is opposed to murmuring and repining at the hand of God, as the discontented Israelites often did. If we cannot bear this either in our children or servants, much less can God bear it in us.

2. To vexing and fretting, which is a degree beyond murmuring.

3. To tumultuousness of spirit, when the thoughts run distractingly and work in a confused manner, so that the affections are like the unruly multitude in the Acts, who did not know for what purpose they had come together. The Lord expects you to be silent under His rod, and, as was said in Acts 19: 36, “Ye ought to be quiet and to do nothing rashly.”

4. It is opposed to an unsettled and unstable spirit, whereby the heart is distracted from the present duty that God requires in our several relationships—towards God, others, and ourselves. We should prize duty more highly than to be distracted by every trivial occasion.

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5. It is opposed to distracting, heart-consuming cares. A gracious heart so esteems its union with Christ and the work that God sets it about, that it will not willingly suffer anything to come in to choke it or deaden it. A Christian is desirous that the Word of God should take such full possession as to divide between soul and spirit (Heb 4: 12), but he would not allow the fear and noise of evil tidings to take such a hold in his soul as to make a division and struggling there, like the twins in Rebekah’s womb (Gen 25:22).

– by Jeremiah Burroughs

The Rare Jewel of Contentment – Quote

Contentment…what a word and a very rare jewel. Who would have thought that this word could mean so much and change how we respond to our everyday situation. As I began reading through this book I realized what was missing in my life. I had not been content with the things I’ve gone through. Every time something happened I didn’t like I would complain until I realized what I was doing.

In recent years we have gone through some tremendous hurt and pain yet the Lord keeps reminding me, “Violet, trust Me! I know exactly what I’m doing whether you know or not.” I’ve read and reread this book and I thought it would be great to share little tidbits out of it with you. May the Lord bless each of you in the reading of the parts posted from this very special book.

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The Rare Jewel of Contentment

By Jeremiah Burroughs

(Pps 33-34)

Thus you have the true interpretation of the text. I shall not make any division of the words because I take them only to promote the one most necessary duty: quieting and comforting the hearts of God’s people under the troubles and changes they meet with in these heart-shaking times.

The doctrinal conclusion briefly is this: That to be well-skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory, and excellence of a Christian. This evangelical truth is held forth sufficiently in the Scripture, yet we may take one or two more parallel places to confirm it.

In 1 Timothy 6:6,8, you find expressed both the duty and the glory of it. “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (6:8)—there is the duty. “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (6:6)—there is the glory and excellence of it, as if to suggest that godliness were not gain except contentment be with it. The same exhortation you have in Hebrews: “Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have” (Heb 13:5).

I offer the following description: Christian 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. This description is a box of precious ointment and very comforting and useful for troubled hearts in troubled times and conditions.

Discontentment

Striving Against The Lord

Philippians 2:14-15 “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

Previously, we had spoken on contentment and how important it is in our lives but now it’s time to share about discontentment and the adverse affect it has on us.

When we are discontented with what is happening in our lives we tell the Lord that He has no right to govern our lives. We show forth an attitude like we know more than God does. When our children complain because they don’t get what they want we keep back special things from them until they are willing to have an attitude of gratefulness towards us. It’s not that we don’t want to give it to them but we can’t afford to give it to them when they gripe about what they feel they are entitled to instead of being thankful for what they have. A child always indulged is an ungrateful child.

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The same can be said of us. If we are always indulged in what we feel is right then we will show forth an attitude of discontentment. When that happens, the Lord may say to us, “That’s fine so now I will give you all you demand since My wise bestowments aren’t good enough for you.” He then may step back and we could fall into a time of living on the back of the desert until we are ready to humble ourselves before the Lord. It’s important for us to realize that He places each thing in our lives for a very good reason, some of which we may never know about.

I’m always interested in the book by John Bunyan called Pilgrim’s Progress. When our boys were little, my husband would read it to them periodically with his myriad of voices. At one section of the story, Christian was at the house of the interpreter. There were two children sitting and waiting. One was very impatient and the other sat quietly. The one who was impatient received gifts and mocked the child who waited patiently.

The interpretation went something like this, “The child who was impatient refused to wait and received his gifts first and so mocked the child who waited patiently. The child waiting patiently would receive his gifts but they would be, by far, the better gifts. He who goes first soon uses up his gifts and must give way to he who goes last. The last would then be first and none takes his place because he is the last.”

In Philippians 1:28-29 we are reminded that we will be persecuted for doing right and in John 16:1-3, the person who kills us will feel like he’s doing a great service to God for so doing. This is our lot in life and persecution may not be that bad now but it could very well grow worse. Let us check our spirit daily and if we find ourselves growing discontented with our lot in life let us seek forgiveness and adjust our attitude to a grateful one. May our lives show the Lord that we are content under His wise bestowments.

Praise the Lord For He is Good!

Praise ye the Lord! O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: and His mercy endureth forever. Psalm 106:1

The Lord is worthy of all praise. Whether we are going through easy or rough times we know that He alone is the worthy one. As the days draw nearer to the end times we see the world falling apart. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see people we thought were godly and standing for truth suddenly fall away to heresy. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see an ungrateful generation who think they are owed everything. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see a generation that has no natural affection and are truce breakers and unholy. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see loved ones turn on us and break our hearts. Praise the Lord for He is good!

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Whatever we are going through, we, as true believers, are told to give thanks to the Lord and praise Him no matter what happens. How can we be thankful to the Lord when the hard times keep rolling our way? Give thanks and praise to the only One Who deserves it. Learn contentment even in the midst of trials. Let’s look to the Lord when our heart is breaking and there is no one who will listen to us or when we can’t tell anyone what is going on in our lives. Praise the Lord for He is good!

As we go through life we can’t expect we will be trial free. Sometimes the trials feel like they are more than we can bear but we must cast all our cares on the Lord. He knows what we need and He will give us strength to make it through. Don’t wait until life is falling apart before you praise the Lord. Do it in the good times and the bad. Do it whether you feel like it or not. Praise the Lord for He is good!

Bending Our Will To His

As we pray to the Lord, His power changes our lives. I can’t remember who said it but someone made the comment that when we pray to God we don’t pull Him to us to do our bidding but He bends our will to His. This is similar to anchoring a ship to the land. You don’t pull the land to the ship. Instead, the land holds the anchor and the ship is then pulled to the land. I like this analogy as it reminds me that prayer is one of God’s means of changing me to become like Christ not changing Christ to do what I want. As we pray, the Lord changes us and gives us a view of Him that we wouldn’t otherwise see.

In this body of sin, it’s so easy to forget Who is in control of all circumstances and think we have to be the ones controlling the situations to force everyone to do what we think is right. It’s like the little girl, who is a master controller and manipulator, going into the kitchen and telling her mom, “I’m making up the food today and you will sit down.” That, instead of asking her mom if it would be alright for her to make the food and would Mama like to sit down and rest awhile? That is fine between adults but a little child has no business demanding that her parents obey her anymore than we have the right to order God around, even if we think it’s for a good cause.

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We should be so contented with the Lord’s dispersion that our hearts go out to Him in worship and praise through each situation. Of course, we cannot simply sit there and say, “Que sera sera!” We are commanded to pray and do it fervently. James 5:16-17. We are commanded to be kind to our enemies and pray for them who despitefully use us. Matthew 5:44. We are to do many more things because we love to obey the Lord’s commands but our contentment should be found in Him and not in ourselves or this world.

May our hearts be so overwhelmed with the Lord that we can say with the Psalmist, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever!!” Psalm 73:25-26.

Being Thankful In Everything

One of the comments in response to my previous post shared another aspect of contentment that is vitally important in our lives. Robert kindly pointed out the aspect of being thankful in everything. Contentment is not just a matter of not fretting; although, it is important that we not fret when things don’t go our way. Contentment is also a matter of being thankful for what we have and what we don’t have.

We live in a culture of ungrateful people. You can help someone and never hear a thank you from them but end up being treated as if you caused them problems and they are entitled to what you gave them. This attitude permeates our culture but we, being true believers, should not have this attitude. When someone helps us out our very attitude should be gratefulness towards that person and we should let them know it. Even more importantly, we should be thanking the Lord that He moved their hearts in that direction.

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When the Lord takes something from us, we should be thankful for His loving ministrations. It is very possible we didn’t need whatever it was taken from us or not given to us. Maybe the thing we want will end up a stumbling block to us, maybe we will put that before the Lord in our worship, maybe we need to spend time with the Lord before He is willing to give us anything extra, and who knows what else could be the reason for Him to deny that specific thing to us. That is His peculiar knowledge that He may or may not reveal to us in time.

Charles Spurgeon was known to pray that if something he wanted was not good for him then he would rather the Lord keep it from him. This should be our desire, as well. Even the Lord prayed, not My will but Thine be done. Who are we to think that God has to give us something just because we demand it or deem it to be in our own best interests?

Contentment is not based on just one thing we receive or don’t receive in our lives. It is based on the whole of our lives. 1 Thess. 5:18 is very clear in that in everything we are to give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us. It’s based on no matter what happens or doesn’t happen, whether things are good or bad, whether evil is being done to us or good is being done to us…let us thank the Lord for all things. Is this easy? No, of course not but it’s the will of God and, as true believers, we are responsible to obey God. We should do it joyfully not just because it’s our responsibility but even more so because we love Him and want to obey Him in everything.

Wherever the Lord has placed us, let us be content in whatever situation we are and with whatever He deems necessary in our lives. Let us give ourselves wholly to being “content with such things as we have because He said, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5).”

Contentment

Contentment…this can be a difficult subject both in learning and in life. This is something the Lord wants each of His children to learn, it is also something we should be willing to take great pains to learn. What is even harder but should be concerning to each of us who are the children of God is contentment in the midst of trials. You see, contentment in the Lord seems to be simple enough.

The Lord uses each situation for us to learn dependence on Him and a desire to fulfill His will. Yet, in the midst of that, as the backdrop of life, the trials we face are there for us to learn to be contented in the midst of that specific trial knowing Who is in control and the plans He has or us is not only for His honor and glory but also for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

The Lord clearly told His disciples that the servant is not above the Master and if the world hated the Master and treated Him horribly then it would treat His servants just as bad, if not worse. As we grow in the grace of the Lord we find that life does not get easier but harder. Each trial or tribulation we face is that much harder than the last but, for each one, we are given the grace and strength to get through.

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When we fight the Lord, instead of gracefully letting Him have His way, we find that the way is so much more difficult than it should be. Fighting only brings anger and frustration our way instead of the peace that passes all understanding. It becomes easy to fume and fret about what we have to face in life. Instead of having a quiet spirit that comes from the Lord, we then have a complaining and fretful spirit. This brings us to a point of having to be disciplined by the Lord.

As the trial or tribulation comes into our lives we begin fretting and fuming that we don’t want it to happen. We were content for things to be as they were and yet it takes those trials to make us more like the Lord Jesus Christ, to grow in faith.

Many times we are like the child that grows impatient and demands their own way when things are not done exactly the way they want them. They sulk and throw temper tantrums because they think that all should be exactly as they would have it, not as the parents know is best for them. They want the candy, the fruit, the dessert, the sweets, the play time, the whatever the case may be instead of spending their time studying, or wanting to eat the proper and healthy foods the parents know they should have so they will grow up strong and wise.

The Lord knows exactly what we need in our lives to make us wise and strong believers. To fret against His wise bestowments (wise even in the midst of our trials) tells Him that we love this world more than Him. How can we desire the world above Him? Is wealth, comfort, life, health, friends, entertainment, sports, family, or anything else more important than Him? To put anything before Him is to worship the created thing more than the Creator, who gave His only begotten Son for our worthless souls.

As each trial comes into our lives let us be willing to thank the Lord for what He taught us already in the past trials and be willing to trust that “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.”