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The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

July 12, 2007

The opening chapter of Jeremiah Burroughs’ book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment is an exposition of Philippians 4:11, “I have learned, in whatsoever I am therewith to be content.” From this exposition, one understands that Christian contentment is (1) learned – an art to be mastered, (2) it is a “business of the heart”, (3) and it is a great mystery. These three things seem to be the running theme throughout the book. Burroughs displays how one learns contentment though the growth in the knowledge of Christ, how one develops a “quiet heart” within afflictions of many kinds, and how this is a great mystery to the “carnal” or “ungracious heart.” By the end of chapter 1, Burroughs develops and defines Christian contentment: “Contentment is the inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, freely submitting to and taking pleasure in God’s disposal in every condition.”

The bright and shining truth that shown out from these pages was that the heart that truly is content is “the most content man in the world, and yet the most unsatisfied man the in the world.” To the lost of this world, this truth is complete nonsense. To them, this is a mystery. Burroughs relates to why this is a mystery, “A little in the world will content a Christian for his passage, but all the world, and ten thousand times more, will not content a Christian for his portion.” I underlined that statement and wrote next to it ‘May this ever be my heart!’ This is the mystery learned in contentment that this little book teaches. To be content in this passage of life is to be content in God as your portion. He writes this to clarify:

What is it satisfies God himself; but that he enjoys all fullness in himself; so he comes to have satisfaction in himself. Now you enjoy God as your portion, if your soul can say with the Church in Lamentations 3:24, “The Lord is my portion, saith my soul”, why should you not be satisfied and content like God?

Though this book be over 350 years old, we should listen to this great Puritan. He speaks to us today when so many compensations beg for our contentment and to be our portion rather than the all satisfying Savior, Jesus Christ.


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