1 Timothy 6:10, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Contentment, James 1:9-11, Jeremiah Burroughs, Matthew 6:19-21, Matthew 6:24, money, Prosperity, providence, Study Guide, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
The previous post in this series may be found here
- Read Philippians 4:12: What are the categories of temptation which Paul lists?
- What temptation to discontentment does Burroughs list on page 103?
- Burroughs mentions two types of “trouble” on pages 103-4. What are they?
- Read 1 Timothy 6:10. What sort of trouble does money bring?
- What is the precise “root” – note the language used.
- Look to the second half of 6:10: how does Paul further define the effect of money; what does it produce in a human being?
- Contentment necessarily includes “having enough”. How then does money tempt one to be discontent? Is it possible to desire money and be content?
- Read the definition of contentment on page 40 of the book and compare that to what Jesus says in Matthew 6:24. How does money directly attack contentment?
- Stop and consider when or whether you have been tempted to discontentment desiring money? Has desire for money ever led you to sin? Have you been angry, covetous, envious, et cetera as a result of the desire for money?
- In addition to discontent caused by the desire for money, Burroughs mentions the discontentment caused by the possession of money. He uses the image of a town which deceives one upon entry. Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19. How does money which you have tempt you to discontentment?
- Read James 1:9-11: How does money possessed tempt one to sin?
- Read Matthew 6:19-21: How does money possessed tempt one to sin?
- Burroughs gives a picture of the effects of money possessed by discussing the behavior of insects around light or honey. He is explaining that money attracts temptations, like light or honey attract pests.
- Now, most of us do not consider ourselves rich –rich people always have more money than us. Yet, the average life of a human in the West is far beyond what most people in the history of the world could imagine for themselves – and far beyond what most people in the world currently experience. Moreover, even small amount of property is sufficient to encourage sin – when Jesus preached, he primarily spoke to poor people. How then have you found yourself tempted to sin by the possession of money? Consider the examples given in 1 Timothy, James & Matthew.
- On pages 105-6, Burroughs expands the weight of prosperity beyond just money. There is a prosperity of position which also brings along certain burdens. Look at the picture of Presidents on the day they were sworn into office and the day they retired. Consider persons who have positions that include a certain degree of respect or responsibility, what is the effect upon them? Or consider single people who think that if they had a spouse and children their life would be better – and then consider the difficulties which come with marriage & parenthood.
- On pages 106-7, Burroughs mentions the particular burdens which come with ministry. This was something Burroughs knew very well: When he was a poor and little known pastor and when he was a well-known pastor he experienced a great deal of trouble. In fact, he wrote The Rare Jewel when he was apparently prospering in ministry because he realized the difficulties and temptations.
- Consider all of the ways in which God has prospered you. Now, consider: What duties does your prosperity and position require of you?
- After you consider you duties, how do you think you will do when it comes time for you to give an account to God as to whether you have fulfilled your duties?
- On page 109, Burroughs states the “most dreadful evil”; what is it?
- How often have you been discontent because God has not given you what you most desire?
- Do you think that you are desiring the “most dreadful evil”?
- How is your heart’s desire the “most dreadful evil”?
- At the bottom of page 109, Burroughs lists the greatest sign of God’s wrath: What is it?
- Middle of page 110, how does God “convey the plague of his curse”?
- Do you believe Burroughs on this point? Are you tempted to think he got it wrong?
- On the bottom of page 110, Burroughs sets out worst sort of judgments. What is the worst form of judgment from God? Why do we tend to think that material prosperity is the greatest sort of good? Romans 1:21-25.
- What is the ninth and last lesson of contentment?
- Question 11 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (which would express Burroughs’ position) reads as follows: “Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.” In short, God is sovereign over everything that happens. You also must know that this does not mean that human beings have no ability to make decisions. We do exactly what we want to do, and it is always what God has determined. That is very confusing, but Burroughs who have believed both to be true.
- On the top of page 112, Burroughs explains the scope of providence. How does knowing the scope of providence affect contentment? If it helps, look back at the definition on page 40?
- If God is completely sovereign and you are discontent, then you must believe what about God?
- In the middle of page 112, Burroughs explains the foolishness of raging against providence: what does he say?
- Page 113, what don’t we understand about providence when we are angry at what God has done?
- An example of providence is included at the end.
- What is the foolishness of discontentment when viewed in light of God’s Providence?
- On page 114, Burroughs identifies a reason that Christians often have difficulty taking comfort in God’s providence: what is it?
- What is the usual way that God deals with His people in this world? Page 115.
- If God doesn’t deal with you in this way, what might it mean? Hebrews 12:8.
- To whom does God give His greatest mercies?
- What is the way of God working? Page 117.
- Take a matter in which you are discontent. Then quickly run over the nine lessons for contentment given by Burroughs. After you examine your discontentment in light of these lessons, explain why you are right in continuing to be discontent.
A recent example of providence:
Crisis of War Turned to Gospel Opportunity in Ukraine
We pass along this recent experience of Dr. Bob Provost, President of SGA and TMS Board Member as told by Bruce Alvord (M.Div.’92, Th.M.’98):
“Traveling through Kiev, Dr. Robert Provost told us what he had seen in another city of Ukraine. There is a people group in Crimea called the Tartars, who are Russian-speaking Muslims and were persecuted by Stalin. As a result of the recent Russian invasion of Crimea, some of these Tartars have fled north to other parts of Ukraine. In the city that Dr. Provost was in, the director of a Baptist bible college asked the students if they would vacate their dorm rooms for the refugee families and sleep on mats on the classroom floors. They did.
Sixty Muslim refugees came – twenty adults (including an Imam – a Muslim mosque leader) and forty children. When the realized they were being taken for refuge to a Christian place, they were afraid. They feared there would be icons on the walls (which they would have to cover, believing them to be evil) and that they would have to hide their women from drunken, adulterous ‘priests.’ However, having no other option, they stayed. To their surprise, they found themselves and their children being treated kindly and sleeping in their hosts’ beds. They were shocked. They told the students, ‘If our places were switched, we would never do this for you. Why are you helping us?!’ After hearing the explanation, the Imam became interested in reading the Bible, but only under two conditions: the Bible couldn’t have a cross on it, and it had to have study notes explaining the text! Dr. Provost said, “Well, we happen to have just such a Bible here.” The Russian translation of the MacArthur Study Bible had been completed and didn’t have a cross on the cover!”