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Reading Recommendation: "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"

“Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” 
– Charles Spurgeon
I plan to publish a regular reading recommendation each month to help members of our local church find “good books” to “visit” alongside their love of the Bible. This first reading recommendation comes from an early 17th-century Puritan Pastor named Jeremiah Burroughs. It is a 200-page meditation on Philippians 4:11 where Paul says: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Burroughs helps us see that contentment is not a place at which you arrive one day, but a character trait which can be learned, practiced, and grown in. If you long to learn the secret of contentment through slowly ruminating on the Scriptures alongside a wise pastor – this book is for you.

Here are 5 quotes from the book to whet your appetite:

  1. Many may sit silently, refraining from discontented expressions, yet inwardly they are bursting with discontented expressions. Inwardly they are bursting with discontent. This shows a complicated disorder and great perversity in their hearts. And notwithstanding their outward silence, God hears the peevish, fretful language of their souls. A shoe may be smooth and neat outside, while inside it pinches the flesh (p. 3).
  2.  A great man will permit common people to stand outside his doors, but he will not let them come in and make a noise in his closet or bedroom when he deliberately retires from all worldly business. So a well-tempered spirit may enquire after things outside in the world, and suffer some ordinary cares and fears to break into the suburbs of the soul, so as to touch lightly upon the thoughts. Yet he will not on any account allow an intrusion into the private room, which should be wholly reserved for Jesus Christ as his inward temple (p. 5).
  3. Consider what your condition is, you are pilgrims and strangers; so do not think to satisfy yourselves here. When a man comes into an inn and sees there a fair cupboard of plate, he is not troubled that it is not his own.- Why? Because he is going away. So let us not be troubled when we see that other men have great wealth, but we have not.-Why? We are going away to another country; you are, as it were, only lodging here, for a night (p. 51).
  4. 'Oh Soul, your happiness is not here, your rest is not here, your happiness is elsewhere, and your heart must be loosened from all the things that are here below in the world.' … Something which is glued to another cannot be taken off, but you must tear it; so it is a sign your heart is glued to the world, that when God would take you off, your heart tears (p. 82).
  5. 'When the people were contented with the allowance that God allowed them, then it was very good, but when they would not be content with God's allowance, but would gather more than God would have them, then, says the text, there were worms in it.' So when we are content with our conditions, and what God disposes of us to be in, there is a blessing in it, then it is sweet to us, but if we must needs have more, and keep it longer than God would have us to have it, then there will be worms in it and it will be no good at all (pp. 92-93).

Source: Burroughs, Jeremiah. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.

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