In reading Jeremiah Burroughs this week (Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment) I have come across many insightful thoughts that are particularly important in our day, in our world. We have so much of this world’s goods and yet we always seem to be getting more, or at least, wanting more. Contentment it seems is a battle. Well Burroughs in the second chapter of this book would show us a fundamental problem we have in our thinking. The world around us, the advertisements, our western mindset, all agree in trying to convince us that to be content we need something more, something new, be someplace else, be with different and new people, and such like. Burroughs however says this is, absolutely, the wrong way to gain contentment. Contentment he says is not to be found by addition of new things, people, places or experiences, but subtracting off our longing for these things and being satisfied with what we have, who we have etc., by matching our desires with what we have now, not what we might have.
A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition, as by way of subtraction. That is his way of contentment, and it is a way the world has no skill in. I open it thus; not so much by adding more to his condition; but rather by subtracting from his desires, so as to make his desires and his circumstances even and equal. A carnal heart knows no way to be contented but this: I have such and such possessions, and if I had this added to them, and the other comfort added that I have not now, then I should be contented. Perhaps I have lost my possessions, if I could have given to me something to make up for my loss, then I should be a contented man. But contentment does not come in that way, it does not come, I say, by adding to what you want, but by subtracting from your desires.
1 Timothy 6:6-9 6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.