Contentment Fits us for Mercy
1 What relationship does Burroughs draw from receiving mercy from God and contentment?
2 Burroughs makes multiple analogies help illustrate God’s actions. Recount them and explain how they apply.
3 When we are discontent, what must we believe about God’s power? Goodness? Wisdom? Strength?
4 When we are discontent, are we seeking what God has provided for us, or what we have determined we deserve?
5 Read James 1:2-4. What does God here intend for those who fall into trials?
6 Read Romans 5:1-5. What does God intend for those who fall into trials?
7 Read 2 Corinthians 1:8-9. What does God intend for those fall into trials?
8 When we are discontent in a trial, what do we seek?
9 Look again at Burroughs’ definition of contentment?
10 Contentment is a willingness to receive what God has to give us.
11 All temptation preys upon discontentment: We are in a circumstance. We face X, but we desire Y. We are not content with what we have at present. Temptation comes along and offers to us Y, at the cost of disobeying God. The temptation takes place in the distance between what we have and what we want.
You Current Reality
You What you desire
You may become angry, covetous, deceitful, slanderous, envying, lustful, stealing, et cetera to get what you want. At one level, discontentment is a desire to sin and a desire to not be satisfied with what God has provided.
This relates to idoltary as follows:
An idol is a thing which use to get what we want. Israel prayed to Baal because they thought Baal could make them rich, et cetera. When we throw a fit and demand that God give us what we want because we want it, we are treating God as a servant, as an idol. In such a circumstance, what can God give to us?
This is how idolatry functioned in Old Testament. The fundamental problem with the Israelites in the Old Testament was that they reserved for themselves the prerogative to determine what they needed and when they needed it, instead of trusting the Lord. The self-oriented hearts of the Israelites then looked to the world (the neighbors in their midst) and followed their lead in blowing to gods that were not God in order to satisfy the lusts of their self-exalting hearts. When this is comprehended, it portrays the terrible irony of Israelite false worship. When the Israelites followed the lead of their neighbors and bowed before blocks of wood, that act of false worship underlined their desire for autonomy and, in an ironic way, was an exultation of themselves even more than of the idol. The idol itself was incidental; (in our world it could be a pornographic picture, a spouse as the particular object of codependency, or an overprotective mother’s controlling fear attached specifically to her children) the self-exalting heart was the problems, which remains the problem today.
The main problem sinful people have is not idols of the heart per se. The main problem certainly involves idols and is rooted in the heart, but the idols are manifestations of the deeper problem. The heart problems is self-exultation, and idols are two or three steps removed. A self-exalting heart that grasps after autonomy is the Grand Unifying Theory (GUT) that unites all idols. Even though idols change from culture to culture and from individual to individual within a culture, the fundamental problem of humanity has not changed since Genesis 3: sinful people want – more than anything in the whole world – to be God.
Heath Lambert, The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 148. Considering this: how can one who is insistent upon God bowing to his will expect anything from God.
12 Read Psalm 131 and explain how the psalmist is at peace. How does this relate to contentment and temptation?
When the godly are burdened and afflicted that way and the wicked are hardened and go unpunished and God sits in wait for them as if the affairs of this world were of no concern to him, what can be said but that he appears to be doing one thing but is doing another and does not wish to reveal that he is the Judge until he knows the time is right? Now, if we want to know why, we will be left in confusion. Consequently, we must conclude that God’s judgments are secret and astonishing and surpass human understanding and that our minds fail us, but that we must revere God’s secrets, which are not known to us even as we confess that he is just despite the fact we find what he does strange. Moreover,
John Calvin. Sermons on Job, Volume 2: Chapters 15-31 (Kindle Locations 7559-7564). The Banner of Truth Trust.