Friday, October 10, 2008

Christian Contentment, Part 1

In preparation for the many changes (having a baby and moving to a new state - to name a few) that are facing us in the coming year, Dave suggested that we read up on the topic of contentment in order to prepare our hearts for all this change.

And so, we are together working our way through The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by the Puritan author Jeremiah Burroughs.

Although it was written close to 350 years ago, the truth contained in this book is still so relevant to life in the 21st century. Discontentment is a problem of the human heart, whether the heart is grumbling about a neighbor having more cattle or a nicer car.

Looking to the Apostle Paul's teaching on contentment (Phil. 4:11 -13 and 1 Tim. 6:6-10) Burroughs offers this helpful description of contentment in the first chapter:

"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."

He then goes on to discuss each aspect of this definition, beginning with "sweet, inward," saying,

"Not only must the tongue hold its peace; the soul must be silent. Many may sit silently, refraining from discontented expressions, yet inwardly they are bursting with discontented expressions, yet inwardly they are bursting with discontent.

This shows a complicated disorder and great perversity in their hearts. And notwithstanding their outward silence, God hears the peevish, fretful language of their souls. A shoe may be smooth and neat outside, while inside it pinches the flesh. Outwardly there may be great calmness and stillness, yet within amazing confusion, bitterness, disturbance and vexation."

This passage really resonated with me and made me to see just how often my expression of discontentment is an inward and silent one. Often, I may know better than to grumble to Dave (mostly because I know he will correct me, as he should), but this does not stop me from complaining and fretting in my heart.

And, what a perfect example of a beautiful, yet pinching shoe! I experienced this just last week with a new pair of shoes, and although my shoes were totally cute (if I do say so myself), inside my shoe, my foot was in a state of "confusion, bitterness, disturbance, and vexation" as my heel transformed into a mess of pinched red skin. My angry feet inside cute shoes are a picture of what is going on inside my heart when I am "inwardly bursting with discontent."

Hopefully, there will be more to come as we read on in this book. Stay tuned...

No comments: