Toughest School Ever (6)

No more posts on contentment.  With this I stop blogging on this virtue. The pain in the testing on the subject is more than I am willing to bear. Do I sound melodramatic?

I have always said, “Be careful what you preach on.” I have never preached a sermon series on spiritual warfare in part for fear of what hell Satan might unleash for my daring to mount an offensive so obviously aimed at his territory. Of course, if I live long enough to preach expositionally through the book of Ephesians, I will have no choice but to face the this-present-darkness music.

In my last post on the rare jewel of Christian contentment, I mentioned that part of what makes this particular school so tough is the mystery involved in it. Paul speaks in Philippians 4:12 of learning the secret of contentment. Furthermore I suggested that two reasons exist why genuine contentment in this life eludes some due to the mystery in it.

The second simply is this: genuine contentment relies on the strength of Another far superior to oneself for its existence. By far the most important verse in the treatise on contentment from Paul in Philippians 4 is v. 13. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

As much as I admire Tim Tebow and his love for Jesus, his eye-black version of this verse has nothing to do with running for first downs in third-and-long situations or passing for touchdowns in the overtime of playoff games. It has everything to do with trusting Jesus for strength in both plenty and want, abundance and need.

Once again, Jeremiah Burroughs delivers:

THERE IS STILL A FURTHER MYSTERY, for I hope you will find this a very useful point and that before we have finished you will see how simple it is for one who is skilled in religion to get contentment, though it is hard for one who is carnal. 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. Now this is a riddle, and it would be counted ridiculous in the schools of the philosophers, to say, If there is a burden on you you must get strength form someone else. Indeed if you must have another come and stand under the burden, they could understand that; but that you should be strengthened by the strength of someone else, who is not near you as far as you can see, they would think ridiculous. 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.

Whether you find yourself in a season with sun shining down on you or walking in a desert place, I can tell you this: the secret of contentment and strength to endure lies in one Person and one person only.

Be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10).

The Quiet of the Heart

Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1647), commenting on Phil. 4:11 – I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content – wrote this about contentment:

Contentment in every condition is a great art, a spiritual mystery. It is to be learned and to be learned as a mystery. And so in verse 12, [Paul] affirms, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:every where and in all things I am instructed.” The word that is translated instructed is derived from the word that signifies “mystery.” It is just as if he had said, “I have learned the mystery of this business.” Contentment is to be learned as a great mystery, and those who are thoroughly trained in this art, which is like Samson’s riddle to a natural man, have learned a deep mystery…Ioffer the following description: 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. I shall break open this description, for it is a box of precious ointment and very comforting and useful for troubled hearts in troubled times and conditions.

To read the rest of the article and savor the aroma of that box of the precious ointment of contentment click here.