Devotions From the Heart
“The Excuses of a Discontented Heart”*
“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11**
There is an “air” of discontentedness among the brethren in all circles of Christianity today and it reminded me of the book by Jeremiah Burroughs, “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” and particularly my book study summary comments on Chapter 7: “The Excuses of a Discontented Heart.” I pray they will help you “think and act biblically” regarding your own heart on this important subject. Read on…
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”1 Timothy 6:6
As I stated in my Questions for Discussion and Reflection, this is one of those chapters that gives us a practical handle and shows us our “excusing”nature of blameshifting and excusing ourselves from responsibility for being content in “whatever state we are in.” I find this so engulfs and permeates the Christian life that there is hardly anything that it does not touch. The Bible is clear about our “sin nature” and how we excuse ourselves from responsibility for sin, obedience, contentment, and everything else. It started in the Garden when Adam and Eve blamed God, each other and the serpent and it is true of us today. We think by excusing ourselves and blaming other persons, events, problems, etc. that excuses us from obedience or contentment. But that is not the case for any of us, including those in unbelief. We are responsible to God to be obedient, content and thankful for “everything” and that includes not only the “good” things but the “bad” as well.
Burroughs is concerned that we are so focused on what is happening to us that we are not focusing on the sin of why it is happening or the sin of not being content that we miss the mark entirely. We become so caught up in the “woe is me” that we do not see the folly of the sin of excuse or discontent. He wants us to focus on reality and that reality means that no matter what happens to us in this life, it is nothing and that trials, afflictions, difficulties are always for our good and thus to focus or make excuse for why we are not content in them, makes our lives more difficult and trying. We need to smack this reality right in its face and look at ourselves and what is around us and stop excusing our discontent and focus on the contentment of a saved heart, one that is a joint-heir with Christ, one that has the joy of eternity and the privileges of royalty forever. Let’s look at this from some very practical examples and see how this plays out.
Example 1: “I don’t have enough time to read my Bible so I become frustrated and sin and I am not content because I can’t get any spiritual encouragement.”
A. Do we watch TV, talk on the telephone, spend time on the internet or in useless reading? Are we focused on “think on these things” spiritual thoughts? Are we blaming our husbands, children, homeschooling, chores, etc. so that we don’t spend time in spiritual matters because of the convicting nature of them? Are we saying that in a 24-hour day we don’t have 10 minutes to spend with the Lord? If so, we are not good time managers nor are we obedient. We have replaced the important things with the unimportant. There is always, no matter what our schedules, time for the Lord. If we are not setting aside time for the Lord, we are in sin and disobedience. That will result in a discontented nature because we are thirsty and starving for spiritual strength. It is through this medium that God strengthens us so that we are content. So, the bottom line is this, we must stop excusing and start obeying and then we will become content.
Example 2: “My husband is not a ‘spiritual leader’ in the home and so it falls upon me to lead and direct the children and my own spiritual well-being so I become discontented in my circumstances with my husband and children and therefore I am not content.”
A. What does God’s Word say about this? He says, “study to show YOURSELF approved.” That “yourself” is you. It does not say only husbands are to study but all believers so that we are able to fight the good fight of faith. The good fight of faith is trusting and believing in God’s goodness and providence in ALL things. We are to “drink of Christ” to “eat”of the spiritual food He has provided in His Word. Each believer is accountable to God for his or her own spiritual growth and progress in the Christian life. So we cannot say we are discontent by excusing our own responsibility to study and to be content. Contentment comes from understanding who God is and His providence in our lives. If we do not study, we do not learn about God in all of His glory and attributes and thus we are discontent in our circumstances.
Example 3: “I am a widow, or separated, or divorced, or single and thus because I am in these circumstances, I am discontent.”
A. The Apostle Paul tells us to “live as you are called” in I Corinthians 7. He is telling us that we are to be content “in whatever state we are in.” If unmarried, be contented; if married, be contented; we are to live “contentedly” as we are called.
Example 4: “No one has the difficulties I have suffered with my children. They will not be obedient no matter what I do so I cannot be content as long as I have these disobedient children.”
A. The Bible is filled with parents of disobedient children. We, as children of the Living God, are disobedient children. Are we free from sin? No, never. Are we called to obedience and contentment? Yes, always. So we are without excuse here. We need to look at our situation in the light of God’s Word and ask ourselves questions. Have we done everything that is obedient to God’s Word in raising our children “biblically”? Have we disciplined with “dignity”? Have we disciplined consistently? Have we shown by our own lifestyle and conversation a life of obedience and contentment before them? I believe when we look at ourselves through the mirror of Scripture, we will see our own sin and failures and thus we can stop excusing and blameshifting and get to the root of the problem. Have we done everything possible and still they are disobedient? Then we are to pray and be content and trust God for His providence in their lives.
As we can see from just these few examples, we excuse, blameshift and transfer our responsibility of being content to everyone and everything else except ourselves. As we think about this and examine our own selves, it will bring to mind those things to which we personally make excuses. It should convict and encourage us to change and that change should produce contentment. Pray for God’s Holy Spirit to bring conviction, repentance and change. Apply the theology you know to be true as to God’s providence and His refining so that you might grow in grace. You are children of your Heavenly Father and what He is doing and has done in your life is good, just and perfect. Trust Him for His guidance and care knowing that He will never leave or forsake you and that everything always and forever works for your good.
There is much more to say about this subject but I will leave it here. Again, as we see, there is no excuse for a discontented heart or spirit. We are called to “be content in all things” and that is what we must do and by the grace of God we can do it. Be diligent and press on in it. Be content!
Blessings in Christ
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do,forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
*TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen “The Excuses of a Discontented Heart” originally posted May 2006 from my Christian Contentment Study on the book by Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment .
**The Greek word “aujtavrkh=DF” [“content; being content” ] in Philippians 4:11 means: “sufficient for one’s self, strong enough or processing enough to need no aid or support, independent of external circumstances, contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest.
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