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TEXT: I Timothy 6:6
SUBJECT: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment #6
A couple of months ago, we began to study a Puritan book named The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. Its author is Jeremiah Burroughs who chose his words carefully. Contentment is a rare jewel! Both precious and hard-to-come-by.
How many Christians do you know? How many of them are content with what they have? I bet the second number is far smaller than the first one! Believers are not enslaved to sin, but we are very much affected by it. And of the sins that affect us most, none is more common than discontentment. Christians have the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sin, and a sure hope of heaven. Yet, most of us are not satisfied with them, but we want something more (like money) or less (like pounds) or better (like a husband, a wife, kids, or parents).
Discontentment is way too respectable! Other sins are looked down on and judged inexcusable! We love the sinner-I hope-but we hate the sin. But this one we don't hate (very much) and hardly notice at all.
In judging others, we ought to be slow and generous. Not everything that looks or sounds discontented is. But in judging ourselves, we can be a lot harder. And we ought to be. If you are unsatisfied with what you have, you should repent of your sin and to ask for God's mercy, which He will give you, for Christ's sake. And you ought to do both.right now. Behold, now it the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.
Please don't justify your discontentment because it is not justifiable. Not yours, not mine, nobody's! No one-especially no believer-has the right to be unhappy with what the Lord has provided. He has done all things well.
In our mid-week service, we are studying Chapter 7 of the book, called The Excellence of Contentment. Being a good Puritan, Jeremiah Burroughs every section into several sub-sections. Presently we're on part 7 of chapter 7.
What makes contentment an excellent thing? Why is more precious than diamonds or rubies? Why is it better to be content than to be rich or healthy or good looking?
Much has already been said here, but I think tonight's answer is one of the clearest and most compelling.
"There is more comfort in contentment than there is in any possession whatsoever; a man has more comfort in being content without a thing, than he can have in the thing he desires in a discontented way".
In other words, being content with an old car will make you happier than getting a new car. Contentment is an excellent thing because it is far, far better than the things that keep you from being content.
This is an easy one to prove. Next Saturday, take a drive around the neighborhood, looking for a garage sale. Pick though the junk on display and ask yourself: Was it always junk? It wasn't! Three years ago, the man was dying for that set of golf clubs he's now selling for twenty dollars! Last year, the woman had to have a treadmill, but now she's almost giving it away. The kids were wild about the Pokemon cards a couple of years ago, but now you can have them all for a fifty cents!
The things the husband, wife and kids couldn't live without did not satisfy them. Now, they have to be gotten rid of to make room for other things they can't live without. Come back next year and these things will be out on the lawn too!
The Bible teaches this often and plainly.
He who desires silver shall not, with silver, be satisfied. If this were written by a poor man, you might think it was a bunch of sour grapes-he never had anything and he figures those who do are not happy with them. But the verse is in Ecclesiastes-and was written by the wealthiest man in the world!
Solomon was a collector of fine things-from sparkling gold to beautiful women! But he was an unhappy man. A much poorer king (with contentment) would have been far happier than the richest of all kings (without it).
He didn't need another fresh batch of women! He needed contentment. Because contentment is more excellent than the things discontent desires.
This is the big idea of tonight's study: Being content with what you have is better than having the things you want. Now he explains why this is true.
GRACE AND OTHER THINGS
"I would have such a thing, but if I should have it, then it would be but a created thing that made me content, whereas now it is the grace of God in my soul that makes me content. Surely it is better to be content with God's grace than with outward comforts".
If God's favor is better than a younger wife or smarter kids, a bigger house or a better job, then being content with His favor is better than finding your satisfaction in other things. I'm thinking of two men in the Bible. Who would you rather be? One said,
Soul, you have much goods, laid up for many years. Eat, drink, and be merry.
The other said,
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is none upon earth that I desire but you.
One man found his happiness in the blessings of God; the other was content with God Himself-whether He gave him anything else or not.
Being content is better than getting the things without which we are not content. The verse we began with bears this out: While the false teachers said, godliness is a means of gain, Paul answered them-No! Godliness and contentment [are themselves] great gain! The poor man who's content with God has more than the rich man who needs the Lord-and his riches-to be happy!
SOUL AND BODY
"If I had such things, granted my position would be better, but my soul might not be better. But by contentment, my soul is better. My soul may not be bettered by wealth or lands or friends, but contentment surely makes it better, and therefore contentment is a better portion than the thing I would have as my portion".
The things that make your life easier don't always make your life holier. A higher paying job, let's say, makes paying the bills easier, but what if it makes you look down on people who don't make the kind of money you do? Or what if it breeds a proud security without God? Outward comforts may be a good thing. But contentment is a good thing. More money, a better career, a bigger house, a newer car, shinier toys can boomerang on you and make you wish you never had them. But contentment? That never disappoints you. You may regret many things on your deathbed, but being content with what you had won't be one of them!
Because contentment is always good for you, it is better to be content with what you have than to have everything you want.
SELF-LOVE AND LOVE OF GOD
"If I become content by having my desire satisfied, that is only self-love. But when I am content with God, that comes from a love for God, and is it not better to be contented out of a love for God than out of a love for myself?"
Is it better to love God or to love yourself? If it's better to love God, then being content with Him is better than craving His gifts.
CONTENT IN GOD; CONTENT IN THINGS
"If I am contented because I have what I desire, then perhaps I am content in that one thing, but that one thing does not furnish me with contentment in another thing.But having God in my heart makes me content, not only in one particular, but in general, whatever befalls me".
The contentment God offers is both wider and deeper than the contentment other things can give us. Let's say I want a high paying job and I get it. That may satisfy one part of my life, but it doesn't give me a happy family. Or, the only thing I want in life is a beautiful wife and I get her. As dear as she is to me, she doesn't make me healthy. The best earthly things can only satisfy you on one level. But the Lord satisfies you on every level!
If you have Him, you have everything. The Sermon on the Mount is found in both Matthew and Luke. In the first Gospel, the Lord says,
If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him?
Underline the words, "good things". But Luke puts it a bit differently. He has the Lord saying,
If you, being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?
This is a discrepancy, but not a contradiction. For all "good things" are included in the gift of the Holy Spirit! Or, the Holy Spirit is the sum and overflow of all good gifts!
The things we crave and want and fight for and complain about can only satisfy little parts of us and only for a short time. But God is big enough and lasting enough to satisfy all of us forever!
Thus, being content with what we have is better than having all we want and then some! It is a rare jewel of Christian contentment.
The best thing about contentment is that you can have it if you want it. Any believer can be content with what he has if he wants to be. Most other things you can't have-you're not smart enough or strong enough or young enough or hard working enough to get them. Or maybe you are, but there's only so many of them and they're all taken.
But contentment? That's for every Christian. Young, old, intelligent, dull, sparking, boring, married, single, healthy, sick-it doesn't matter. The Lord is big enough to satisfy you and He wants to satisfy you. So why don't you seek your contentment in Him? Why don't you become content with your contentment?
At the end of the section, Burroughs exhorts us:
"Be satisfied and quiet, be contented with your contentment. I lack certain things that others have, but blessed be God, I have a contented heart which others have not. Then, I say, be content with your contentment, for it is a rich portion that the Lord has granted you. If the Lord should give you thousands in this world, it would not be so rich a portion as if He should give you a contented spirit. Oh, go away and praise the Name of God. `Lord, you have given me less than others, but what you have given me is better, you have given me a quiet heart, willing to take what you give and wanting nothing more.'"
I'll close with a short list of things to do. They're not in Burroughs' chapter, but they're consistent with it-and with what the Bible teaches.
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