More from Jeremiah Burroughs on Christian Contentment…
Christ teaches us contentment when we know our own hearts.
Alot can be said about the dangers of focusing inward. Pridefulness begins with self-focus, humility with self-denial. But just like your mechanic knows what’s under your car’s hood, we do well to know how our hearts function. We need to know how we “tick” to find contentment.
Burroughs states that sailors and scholars have thier books. Logicians and lawyers have thiers. Knowing the content makes them effective in their professions. But as he states, “the Christian, next to the book of God is to look into the book of his own heart and read over that, and this will help you to contentment in three ways” (100).
#1 By studying your heart you will soon discover where your discontentment lies.
We begin to find contentment when we locate the source of our discontement. Burroughs illustrates:
“When a man has a watch, and understands the use of every wheel and pin, if it goes amiss he will soon find out the cuase of it. But when someone has no skill in a watch, if it goes amiss he does not know what is the matter, and therefore cannot mend it. So indeed our hearts are as a watch, and there are many wheels and windings and turnings there, and we should labor to know our hearts well, that when they are out of tune, we may know what is the matter” (100).
#2 By studying your heart you will come to know what best suits your condition.
If we know our hearts, we can say can say in any affliction, “I would have not given up this affliction for anything in the world. God has so suited this to my condition and has come in such a way that if this affliction had not come, I am afraid I should have fallen into sin” (101). Those that know their hearts well, know that God gives them a “sanctified use” in their affliction. The affliction is not for punishment, but to purify.
#3 By studying your heart you will know what you are able to manage.
By knowing our hearts, we learn what we’re able to handle and what we can’t. Burroughs states that farmers know how much seed their land can handle. If they over-stock the soil, the crop will quickly spoil. But he says, a wise farmer knows how much his ground will bear, and is not troubled that he has not as much stock as others. Why? He knows what his land can bear and that quiets him.
So what is it for you? What makes you tick? Do you know your heart? Do you know where your discontentment lies? When you experience affliction, do you know God’s design in it? What things do you give pause in asking for?
Though we may be tempted to get lost in introspection in the process, knowing the workings of our own operating systems is vital work in gaining contentment. May we be granted both knowledge and grace in the task.