Delving Deeper into the Definition
In our last installment I introduced Jeremiah Burroughs’ definition of contentment, which states that “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.” While these words did not come directly from the scriptures, they stem from Bible principles and clearly demonstrate an understanding of God’s mindset toward Christian contentment.
A Sweet, Inward Thing
God is concerned with inner things, and he looks at the heart. The psalmist spoke to this is Psalm 62:5 where he wrote, “my soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” David understood that contentment is never dependent upon circumstances. It is an inward reliance upon the God of the universe, whose greatness exceeds every difficulty. This incredible God desires a sweet, intimate relationship with his followers, and that fellowship is a source of great joy both to him and to believers.
Quietness of the Heart
Some Christians walk around in a constant whirlwind of turbulence. Others may seem outwardly at peace, while inwardly they are far from content. Neither of these is a healthy state for the believer. A quietness of heart needs to be cultivated so that we can listen to the still, small voice of our Lord speaking peace to our soul. Psalm 46:10 reads, “be still and know that I am God.”
This contentment, with its settled, quietness of heart, is possible through and partly due to the fact that the contented person is fully aware of the affliction that he is facing. We are at peace in our heart knowing that, like Christ, we bear a cross. “Take up your cross daily,” were our Lord’s words. Paul was acutely aware of his own sufferings, as was Jesus Christ when he suffered crucifixion. The only difference between a suffering sinner and a believer in tribulation is that the believer can come before an almighty God and lay his burdens down. The peace that ensues when we give our burdens to Christ gives contentment as we recognize that he is more than capable to meet our every need.
In Every Condition
Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11 “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Attaining true contentment was a process that took Paul many years to learn. He had to experience a vast array of trials and life circumstances, while placing his sufficiency in Christ alone. It was not an easy road, but at the end of his life he could say, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”
“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.”