Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contenment - Part 2 - The Dew of God's Blessing

As I have already discussed in an earlier post, in Part 2 of The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment Burroughs 'opens up' the mystery of Christian contentment. He lists 15 things that help to clarify and elucidate what contentment is:

  1. The first thing is, to show that there is a great mystery in it.
  2. A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition, as by way of subtraction.
  3. A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by getting rid of the burden that is on him, as by adding another burden to himself.
  4. It is not so much the removing of the affliction that is upon us as the changing of the affliction, the metamorphosing of the affliction, so that it is quite turned and changed into something else.
  5. A Christian comes to this contentment not by making up the wants of his circumstances, but by the performance of the work of his circumstances.
  6. A gracious heart is contented by the melting of his will and desires into God's will and desires; by this means he gets contentment.
  7. The mystery consists not in bringing anything from outside to make my condition more comfortable, but in purging out something that is within.
  8. He lives upon the dew of God's blessing.
  9. Not only in good things does a Christian have the dew of God's blessing.
  10. A godly man has contentment as a mystery, because he sees all his afflictions sanctified in Jesus Christ, sanctified in a mediator.
  11. A gracious heart has contentment by getting strength from Jesus Christ; he is able to bear his burden by getting strength from someone else.
  12. A godly heart enjoys much of god in everything he has, and knows how to make up all wants in God himself.
  13. A gracious heart gets contentment from the covenant that God has made with him.
  14. He has contentment by realizing the glorious things of heaven to him.
  15. The last thing that I would mention is this, a godly man has contentment by opening and letting out his heart to God.
There is much wisdom in this list of points. I have found myself mulling over these points over the past 2 weeks and finding fresh insight in them. We see in point 11 that we do not find contentment by enduring and carrying burdens in our own strength; I say, the eleventh mystery in contentment is this: A gracious heart has contentment by getting strength from Jesus Christ; he is able to bear his burden by getting strength from someone else. Indeed, how many Christians would list the following verse as one of their favorites: I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

It seems though, that Burroughs has considered the context of this verse. The two preceding verses are as follows: Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. (Philippians 4: 11-12)

Now I believe that Christ strengthens us in all we do, but Paul is considering this strengthening in light of being content in all situations. Whether in 'low' conditions or in 'abounding' conditions we can be content because we can do all things in Him who strengthens us. Interestingly, it may very well be that it is harder to find contentment in the false security and deceitful happiness of living im plenty! At least when we are in times of lack we realize we are not content. But in having much we are often deluded into believing there is contentment in 'things'. Take a look around you and ask yourself if those who have much are experiencing true contentment. I don't think so.

Burroughs continues his explanation of be strengthened by Christ: But a Christian finds satisfaction in every circumstance by getting strength from another, by going out of himself to Jesus Christ, by his faith acting upon Christ, and bringing the strength of Jesus Christ into his own soul, he is thereby enabled to bear whatever God lays on him, by the strength that he finds from Jesus Christ. Of his fullness do we receive grace for grace; there is strength in Christ not only to sanctify and save us, but strength to support us under all our burdens and afflictions, and Christ expects that when we are under any burden, we should act our faith upon him to draw virtue and strength from him. Faith is the great grace that is to be acted under afflictions. It is true that other graces should be acted, but the grace of faith draws strength from Christ, in looking on him who has the fullness of all strength conveyed into the hearts of all believers.

I often try to find strength in burden-bearing within myself. I make a seemingly valiant effort to shoulder the load that is placed upon me. And yet, I should go to Christ for strength. I am certain that God would have us do our part; show resolve and persevere. But we can 'act out faith upon' Christ and draw strength.

Burroughs sums up this point by encouraging the reader with the availability of God's strength in bearing affliction. He cites Colossians 1:11-12 which reads: May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Burroughs suggests that this is what the world looks for in Christians; a mysterious contentment under all circumstances whci is nothing more than "Scripture made good in you".

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you chose to expound on Phil 4:13. I heard a teacher share similar thoughts on that a few years ago, and it really stuck with me as a profoundly better and more accurate way of interpreting it than the "I can be Superman and leap tall buildings!" mentality I usually heard. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!