Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Burroughs--The Mystery of Contentment

Today we begin Chapter 2 in our study of Jeremiah Burroughs The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. Again, a reminder that you can buy the book here, or read it online here. In this chapter, and the third, Burroughs will exposit for us the great mystery of contentment. What does he mean by mystery? He gives an example with this statement: "You never learned the mystery of contentment unless it may be said of you that, just as you are the most contented man, so you are also the most unsatisfied man in the world." What a great mystery it must be that a man is discontent and content at the same time. Burroughs goes on to explain: "though his heart is so enlarged that the enjoyment of all the world and ten thousand worlds cannot satisfy him for his portion; yet he has a heart quieted under God's disposal, if He gives him but bread and water." In order for this to not be utterly insane we must see it as a great mystery indeed. This marks the difference between a godly man and he with a carnal heart. The godly man that is contented will not find his portion in this world and thus will be satisfied with what little he is given. The carnal man will find the world for his portion and thus will never be satisfied.

The heart of the issue lies in what satisfies us. "A soul that is capable of God can be filled with nothing else but God...therefore, whatever God may give to a gracious heart, a heart that is godly, unless He gives Himself it will not do". As Burroughs expounds upon Philippians 4:7, 9 we see the depth of his thought as it is compared to the carnality of our modern thinking. I have known many of Christians when reading, Philippians 4:9 ("And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ,") will pursue the peace of God. Listen to what Burroughs offers as an observation of that text: "the peace of God is not enough to a gracious heart except it may have the God of that peace. A carnal heart would be satisfied if he might but have outward peace, though it is not the peace of God...but mark how a godly heart goes beyond a carnal. All outward peace is not enough; I must have the peace of God...we must enjoy the Fountain of peace, as well as the stream of my peace".

A good measure of whether or not we have this godly contentment is to ask ourselves whether or not we can honestly agree with Psalm 73:25, "Whom have I in heaven but you and there is none upon the earth that I desire beside you." If you want to further information on this concept I suggest reading Piper's excellent book God is the Gospel. You can purchase it here or read it online here. Piper's central thesis is that the greatest gift of the gospel is God Himself. This strongly echoes Burroughs sentiment that a contented heart is dissatisfied until he has God Himself, but is yet contented with the little the world has because of the measure of grace God has given Him.

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