The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment was very profitable and helpful to me in this day of materialism, covetousness, and greed. Even though I have a very comfortable life, I still find myself complaining and worrying whether outwardly or in my heart about trivial matters, and this book really helped put everything into proper perspective.
I was concerned about attempting to read a book that was written in 1648 by a Puritan author, but Burroughs writing style is very readable, certainly no more difficult than a KJV Bible. Burroughs does a wonderful job of reminding the reader that we are merely pilgrims passing through this world. That it is natural not to be comfortable here, because it is not our home. (I am a traveler and I must not be finding fault; I am in another mans house) That my contentment and peace should derive from God alone, and from no earthly person or thing. Right at the start of the book, Burroughs offers this definition of contentment:
Christian Contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which FREELY submits to and DELIGHTS in Gods wise and fatherly disposal in EVERY condition (Caps mine).
He goes on after this to dissect this definition and expound on each of these aspects of contentment. Burroughs explains that achieving contentment is a lot like a math equation; he observes:
"A Christian comes to contentment not so much by way of addition, as by way of subtractionnot by adding more to his condition, but rather by subtracting from his desires, so as to make his desires and his circumstances even and equal."
He also gives this explanation about finding our contentment in God alone:
"Since God is contented with Himself alone, if you have Him, you may be contented with Him alone, and it may be, that is the reason why your outward comforts are taken from you, that God may be all in all to you. It may be that while you had these things, they shared with God in your affection, a great part of the stream of your affection ran that way: God would have the full stream run to Him now."
In other words, God will not share His place in your life with any other thing or person. In fact, if we are not seeking all we need only from God, then we are idolaters. During our life here, God is continually working to ween us away from the things of the world. That likely will include taking away the things that our hearts tend to hold too tightly to.
It's a fact that it's often easier and more natural to find things to complain and be unhappy about than to willingly accept and even embrace the circumstances in our life that are not enjoyable or comfortable. But we must remember and trust that everything that comes into our life is ordained and controlled by our loving and sovereign Heavenly Father.
Burroughs illustrations are well constructed and memorable. And I found the truths to be life-changing. This was one of those books that, as soon as I finished it I felt like I wanted to turn to the beginning and start again. I am still in the process of learning to turn complaints into contentment; may God give each of us the grace to improve in this area.
This book has been a challenge and encouragement to me personally, so much so that I purchased 5 more copies to share with friends and family. It needs to be read and reread slowly and carefully. My copy has many underlines and notations.
This little book puts the attainment of a contented life into practical and understandable terms. I enjoy reading it. It has helped me in my quest for contentment. I always wondered what was the "secret" that Paul had found in relation to being always contented no matter what his circumstances.
This is an amazing gem of a book. We are using it as a basis for teaching for an upcoming retreat and I find it to be an excellent resource for choosing to be content, and to live at peace with others whenever possible.