Worry and Trust – Wisdom from the Past to Help you Today

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

The Bible encourages us not to worry. It’s a bit different from ‘Don’t worry – be happy’ because the source of our contentment is in the character and sovereignty of God. But still, we need to know the calming voice of God.

Philippians 4:6 says
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ (NIV)

Proverbs 12:25 says
‘Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.’ (ESV)

As we finish our brief look into Jeremiah Burroughs excellent work, ‘The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment’ I hope you will find ‘a good word’ which will lift you out of worry and into worship.

So let’s travel back three and a half centuries and see what the prevailing Christian counsel was for troubled souls then…

On Anxiety, or ‘Fretting’
‘When you are in a ship at sea which has all its sails spread with a full gale of wind, and is swiftly sailing, can you make it stand still by running up and down in the ship?

No more can you make the providence of God alter and change its course with your vexing and fretting; it will go on with power, do what you can.

Do but understand the power and efficacy of Providence [the planned and protective care of God] and it will be a mighty means helping you to learn this lesson of contentment.’ (p.112-113)

On Learning from Life’s Tough Experiences
‘I make no question but you find it so, that your worst voyages have proved your best.’ (p.214)

How a fretting disposition can lead us into further problems
‘Contentment delivers us from an abundance of temptations. Oh, the temptations that men of discontented spirits are subject to! The Devil loves to fish in troubled waters.’ (p.126)

On the Unreasonable Nature of Discontent
‘Has God converted you, and drawn you to his Son to cast your soul upon him for all your good, and yet you are discontented for the want of some little matter in a creature comfort?’ (p.142)

On not becoming Bitter with God when things don’t go well
‘Oh, my brethren…retain good thoughts of God, take heed of judging God to be a hard master, make good interpretations of his ways, and that is a special means to help you to contentment in all one’s course.’ (p.225)

On the Goodness of God in all of Life
‘A believer…is set apart to the end that God might manifest to all eternity what his infinite power is able to do to make a creature happy.’ (p.147)

God will look to you, and see you blessed if you are in the work God calls you to. (p.217)

On not becoming Materialistic
‘Be not inordinately taken up with the comforts of this world when you have them.’ (p.226)

Should the Believer be an Overcomer or a Worrier?
‘The spirit of a Christian should be a lion-like spirit; as Jesus Christ is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (so he is called) so we should manifest something of the lion-like spirit of Jesus Christ.’ (p.148)

Read the next post, ‘The Decline of Faith in England – PostPuritanism’

All quotations are taken from ‘The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment’, Banner of Truth edition, which you can purchase here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Wealth, Comfort and the Gospel – A Puritan Perspective

Wisdom from Old Times – Prosperity and Adversity from a Puritan Perspective

How focused should we be on material success and wealth? How focused should we be on eternity? Should the fluctuation of our material comforts have a significant influence on our experience of peace, or should we be able to set our hearts on the future grace to be revealed at Christ’s coming?

These are questions addressed in one of the most beautifully named Puritan books, ‘The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment’.

Jeremiah Burroughs

Jeremiah Burroughs

This short work was first published in 1648 by Jeremiah Burroughs. Burroughs was yet another mighty Puritan teacher/preacher educated at Emmanuel College at Cambridge University, England. After graduating, Burroughs served in churches in East Anglia, England and then in Rotterdam, Holland.

Some of his insights and comments are challenging. I don’t like some of them! But maybe it’s the ones I don’t like that should instruct me the most!

If you are facing difficult times at the moment then it may be that you will find strength and help in some of the wisdom from the 17th Century.

On God as the Source of true Peace
‘The good of my life and comforts and my happiness and my glory and my riches are more in God than in myself.’ (p.54)

‘If the children of God have their little taken from them, they can make up all their wants in God himself.’ (p.65)

‘Every comfort you have is a forerunner of those eternal mercies you shall have with God in Heaven.’ (p.59)

‘If you will only have contentment when God’s ways suit with your own ends, you can have it only now and then, but a self-denying man denies his own ends, and only looks at the ends of God and therein he is contented…The lesson of self-denial is the first lesson that Jesus Christ teaches men who are seeking contentment.’ (p.90-91)

On the Unchanging Nature of Human Desire
‘The world is infinitely deceived in thinking that contentment lies in having more than we already have.’ (p.45-46)

‘So if we come to understanding in the school of Christ we will not cry, ‘Why have I not got such wealth as others have?’, but, ‘The Lord sees that I am not able to manage it and I see it myself by knowing my own heart.’’ (p.102)

On how Affliction may Help and Prosperity may Hurt
‘You do not find one godly man who came out of an affliction worse than when he went into it; though for a while he was shaken, yet at last he was better for an affliction.
But a great many godly men, you find, have been worse for their prosperity.’ (p.50)

On Trusting God in Troubled Times
‘We must not have hearts hurrying up and down in trouble, discontent and vexing, but still and quiet hearts, if we [want to] receive mercy from the Lord. If a child throws and kicks up and down for a thing, you [will] not give it him when he cries so…

Even though, perhaps, you intend him to have what he cries for, you will not give it him till he is quiet, and comes, and stands still before you, and is contented without it, and then you will give it him. And truly so does the Lord deal with us.’ (p.124)

‘God is doing you good if you could see it, and if he is pleased to sanctify your affliction to break that hard heart of yours, and humble that proud spirit of yours, it would be the greatest mercy that you ever had in all your life.’ (p.181-2)

‘By contentment we come to give God the worship that is due to him.’ (p.119)

On the Bible as a Source of Comfort
‘There is no condition that a godly man or woman can be in, but there is some promise or other in the Scripture to help him in that condition.’ (p.69)

God has provided for us in His word and in Himself. In all the various trials we face we need to exercise faith in Him, either to be content in our need or to see the necessary breakthrough come.  As Burroughs says, there’s no circumstance in life that we face but that some passage of Scripture can speak to us and help us through.

Read the next post on ‘Worry, Trust and Wisdom from the Past to Help you Today’

All quotations are taken from ‘The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment’, Banner of Truth edition, which you can purchase here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

Luther on Anxiety, Studying and the Restoration of the Church

martin_luther_31

This will be our last visit inside the Luther household. Reluctantly, we must take our leave. And here, Luther gives us some parting wisdom regarding anxiety, study, preaching, the purpose of the church and on reaching our friends and neighbours with the good news of Jesus Christ.

On Anxiety
‘Time heals many things but worrying about them does not.’ (p.200)
‘Nothing has hurt me more than worrying, especially at night.’ (p.234)

On the need for diligent study
‘God’s gifts are boundless. He heaps upon us all things at once in the greatest profusion. He gives us the liberal arts and languages. The choicest books are to be had for a song. But woe to our sloth!’ (p.169)

On not preaching ‘over peoples’ heads’
‘In my sermons I do not think of Bugenhagen, Jonas and Melancthon, for they know as much as I do, so I preach not to them but to my little Lena and Hans and Elsa. It would be a foolish gardener who would attend to one flower to the neglect of the great majority.’ (p. 192-193)

‘Let all your sermons be very plain and simple. Think not of the prince but of the uncultivated and ignorant people. The prince himself is made of the same stuff as they! I preach very simply to the uneducated and it suits everybody. Though I know Greek, Hebrew and Latin, these languages I keep for use among ourselves.’ (p.193)

On the best result of good theological study

‘The best thing that theology can teach us is to know Christ. Therefore Peter says: “Grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.”’ (p.171)

On the Restoration of the Church
‘Building a church is not instituting ceremonies…but freeing consciences and strengthening faith.’ (p.227)

On bringing the gospel to the world
‘The first and greatest commandment requires faith and fear of God, the second [requires] love to one’s neighbour, which means we ought to preach to and pray for them and not flee into corners.’ (p.153)

(All references are from Table Talk, Smith and Gallinger edition 1915. Modern paperback edition published 1979 by Keats, USA)

For the first part of the Martin Luther Story click here

For the next part of the Martin Luther Story click here

© 2009 Lex Loizides