Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contenment - Part 2 - Conclusions

Along with others who have decided to participate in 'Reading the Classic with Challies', I have been reading The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. Part 2 of the online book consists of the author "Opening the Mystery" of Christian contentment. You can see my other 2 post fron Part 2 here and here.

In this last post concerning Part 2, I'd like to comment on this quote:
As it is with a vessel that is full of liquor, if you strike it, it will make no great noise, but if it is empty then it makes a great noise; so it is with the heart, a heart that is full of grace and goodness within will bear a great many strokes, and never make any noise, but if an empty heart is struck it will make a noise. When some men and women are complaining so much, and always whining, it is a sign that there is an emptiness in their hearts. If their hearts were filled with grace they would not make such a noise.

If whining and complaining are signs of an empty heart than we have a lot of empty-hearted people in our society; we have a lot of empty-hearted believers in our churches.

Whining, by definition, is to "
to complain or protest in a childish manner or about trivial thing". By its very nature, it is either immature or concerned about the unimportant. Whining, as far as I am concerned, is never acceptable. That is not to say that I don't whine; I do. But it is surely falls short of acceptable communicating strategies. Even for my children, whining is not the accepted means of dialoguing ones thoughts or feelings. With whining being about childish or trivial things, it seems evident that much about contentment is about being spiritually mature. Contentment also seems beyond the reach of those who are overly enamored with the trivial. Whining points to a lack of contentment which in turn points to a heart devoid or deprived of of grace.

Complaining seems to be a different sort of thing. I think that complaining is not always a negative thing. If complaining is "to express feelings of pain, dissatisfaction, or resentment" then I think we need to look to the motivation of the complainer to ascertain its appropriateness. It is very difficult, nigh unto impossible, for a human to judge another's motives. Nevertheless, when someone's complaint is self-centered or for the purpose of self-promotion, it is surely an affront to God and an indication of a lack of grace. I do believe, however, that some complaining can be selfless. At least some instances of complaining could be seen that way given the way we use the term. Perhaps in the author's day complaining could not have a positive side. If we are complaining, or we are about to, we should weigh our own motives for doing so. More often than not I think complaints do come from selfish motives. And if it does come from those undesirable motives then Burroughs would tell us we are not content and thus our hearts need more of God's grace.

This quote is found the section of opening up the mystery of contentment in which Burroughs explains that a gracious heart gets contentment from the covenant God has made with us. When our heart is lacking grace, we need to think of the promises provided in God's covenant with us: grace, heaven, and God's promises. The Covenant of Grace will supply the grace we need to find contentment and refrain from whining and complaining. It sounds like the remedy for empty-heartedness is the same remedy for all of our ailments, character flaws, shortcomings, and sins; grace.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you bring out the "whining" aspects of discontentment. I've been struggling with a friend for quite awhile because I perceive she whines too much. Perhaps I should reframe it and view her as either devoid or deprived of grace, and help her from that angle so she can move closer toward contentment.

    And continue working on it more myself too!