It’s been a long time, but the previous post in this series may be found here.
Burroughs now moves to the question of motivation: it will take work to “learn” (Phil. 4:11) how to be content. Contentment is a heavenly flower, a mark of the age to come, and it is not common to this world. If anything, contentment has only become more difficult for people living at this time, because we live in a world that engages in constant propaganda to make us discontent. This is a fact noted by all. From those who are negative to Christianity, ” The whole thing [advertising] is a set up to keep us unhappy and foolishly intent on spending our way out this unhappiness.” But it was noted far earlier by Solomon,
Ecclesiastes 1:8 (ESV)
8 All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
There are all the false offers of happiness in this world. Even though they all end the same (Ecclesiastes 2:11), we find them irresistible (Jer. 2:25). Therefore, breaking off from these false hopes and setting our hope in God such that we will do the work to learn contentment with God’s will for our lives — even when it crosses are desires — will require a hope in that contentment is better than what we have now.
It is to this task which Burroughs turns.
- How does Burroughs describe the result of this learning? If we have learned contentment, what would be the nature of our speaking about contentment? Read Philippians 4:1-13, the passage where Paul says that he has learned contentment. What is the tone taken by Paul in this passage? Verse 13 is a famous verse: in context, what is that God gives Paul the strength to do?
- Why does Burroughs note that even the greatest pagans thought contentment a great goal?
- The worship due God. In raising this issue, Burroughs is both showing us the greatness of contentment, and at the same time, raising the greatest barrier to contentment.
- How does Burroughs first define contentment? In particular note the aspect of free submission.
- What sort of thoughts, desires and fears keep you from freely submitting to God’s will for your life? If they hold that God is sovereign, and that our present circumstance must work for good, then what must we think when our present circumstance runs contrary to our will? What must we think about ourselves? What must we think about God?
- How does willing submission to God help bring about contentment?
- Why should giving God proper worship be a motivation for contentment? Honestly, does that seem like a sufficient reason?
- Burroughs uses some language which may sound offensive to your dignity, when he discusses worship. Read Genesis 3:5. Does this lie of the Serpent help shed light on why this is difficult for us?
- Look at a few passages involving humans meeting God:
- Leviticus 10:1-3
- Deuteronomy 5:22-27
iii. Isaiah 6:1-5
- Ezekiel 1
- Luke 5:8
- Luke 9:34
vii. Revelation 1:17
- What is wrong with our natural thoughts about God? ii
- How does Burroughs describe the greatness of this aspect of worship?
- Read Revelation 5: i) What sort of worship does Christ receive from those who know him best? ii) What is the basis for this worship? iii) Do you rightly value this worth? iv) Is it wise to submit one’s condition and life to such wisdom? v) Read Romans 8:31-32: is there any good which God would not give you?