"Why is it difficult to be content when you have so much?
On the surface, it seems unnecessary to instruct someone to be content in times of prosperity. However, times of prosperity and abundance provide some of the strongest temptations to pull our hearts away from God. Jeremiah Burroughs was keenly aware that the riches of this world compete for our affections and challenge our contentment in Christ. Originally prepared as an appendix to The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, this book provides an important conclusion to Burroughs’s sermon series on Philippians 4:11–12: “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."
Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs originally prepared this book as an addendum to his stellar work "The rare jewel of Christian contentment" . That work was my first introduction to Burroughs and I benefited greatly from it. So when I heard that Reformation Heritage was publishing Contentment, Prosperity, and God's glory I quickly and excitedly acquired a copy. Before I go any further, let me heartily commend Burrough's "Rare Jewel" to you in companion to this work. They really are two parts of a whole. They aren't lengthy tomes so you can easily read both relatively quickly.
When I first looked at this book I was a bit skeptical of the need for it. Being more acquainted with the adversity side of life than the prosperity side, I wasn't sure how beneficial a read this would be for me. Surely, if you are prospering financially, physically, and emotionally, your walk with God couldn't be in danger could it?
However, as I began to read this book, I realized that I had a shallow understanding of prosperity and contentment, and it's relationship to the glory of God. I was reminded of the quote by Thomas Carlyle, who said "Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity". Prosperity brings it's own unique dangers.
Based upon Philippians 4:12 this book confronts the tendency in us to be discontented in affliction and as Burroughs states, unruly and obstinate and our need to learn how to be "full". From there he spends the rest of the book explaining what that means and how to get there, and in typical puritan fashion he bases all of this on the understanding that no one can learn to be full unless he understands the mercies granted to him by God. He talks about holding on loosely to all we have been given, see everything as a gift from a loving Heavenly Father, and use everything we have for His kingdom and His glory, not grudgingly but gratefully.
The Puritans understood that they were strangers and aliens on this earth and they traveled light, content in times of adversity and prosperity. In this book Jeremiah Burroughs in a gentle and pastoral way challenges all of us to do the same. A must read!
I received a free copy of this book from Reformation Heritage books in exchange for my unbiased review.