Contentment: Spiritually Internal thus Independent of Externals

For Lord’s Day, April 2, 2017

Dear Saints,

Here is our next installment of Jeremiah Borroughs’, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment to supplement our Wednesday Night study of Thomas Watson’s, The Art of Divine Contentment (both based on Philippians 4:11).

Having described what Christian contentment is, Burroughs begins to help us look at it from various angles to appreciate its myriad aspects. First,

Contentment is a sweet, inward heart-thing.

It is a work of the Spirit indoors.

Contentment does not come from outside of us. It is a peace that is not of this world without but only from Christ within. As Watson put it in chapter 6, “Contentment is a divine thing: it becomes ours, not by acquisition, but infusion.” Further, “Contentment is an intrinsical thing; it lies within a man; not in the bark, but the root. Contentment hath both its fountain and stream in the soul”, and thus it “doth not depend upon externals.” So let us go inside our hearts and ask the Spirit of Christ abiding there to work out His gracious gift in us, including reminding us that we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us: especially the thing of learning contentment and staying content (see verse 13 in its context with verse 11).

As Burroughs teaches that contentment “is the inward submission of the heart”, he contends that it isn’t simply outward compliance that appears to be at peace because it doesn’t make a fussy show with the body. It is more than that—much more. True contentment is a lack of fretting in our heart of hearts.  He writes:

Not only must the tongue hold its peace;

the soul must be silent.

Ah yes, a meek and quiet spirit is the truest test of our spiritual state (and precious in God’s sight: 1 Peter 3:4). Yet both Watson and Burroughs would encourage us to simply be motivated to continue mastering this fine art and mining for the rare jewel. Says Borroughs,

If the attainment of true contentment were as easy as keeping quiet outwardly, it would not need much learning.

God’s beloved, may our hearts open to God working this lesson in us where all His good works begin and grow: in our soul’s offering up its most private and precious places.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant