Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Check to the Discontented Christian
...your weekly dose of gospel

"Tell me, you vain professor,
when did you shed a tear for the deadness,
hardness, unbelief, or earthliness of your heart?
Do you think that such an easy religion can save you?
If so, we may invert Christ's words and say,
'Wide is the gate, and broad is the way,
that leadeth to life, and may there be that go in there.'"

"Preach the gospel to yourself everyday..."

And he said to them,
“Take care, and be on your guard
against all covetousness,
for one’s life does not consist
in the abundance of his possessions.”

-Luke 12:15

by Thomas Watson
“Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward;” therefore we all need to learn the same lesson as Paul. “I have learned,” he said “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” Philippians 4. 11. Believers, especially, wish to attain to a holy equanimity in their tribulations and under the stresses caused by our increasingly secular society.

Here is a just reproof to such as are discontented with their condition.
This disease is almost epidemical. Some not content with the calling which God hath set them in, must be a step higher, from the plough to the throne; who like the spider in the Proverbs, will “take hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” Others from the shop to the pulpit; (Nu. 12. 2) they would be in the temple of honour, before they are in the temple of virtue; who step into Moses’ chair, without Aaron’s bells and pomegranates; like apes, which do most show their deformity when they are climbing. It is not enough that God hath bestowed gifts upon men, in private to edify; that he hath enriched them with many mercies? but, “seek ye the priesthood also?” (Nu. 16. 10) What is this but discontent arising from high flown pride? These do secretly tax the wisdom of God, that he hath not screwed them up in their condition a peg higher. Every man is complaining that his estate is no better, though he seldom complains that his heart is no better. One man commends this kind of life, another commends that; one man thinks a country-life best, another a city-life; the soldier thinks it best to be a merchant, and the merchant to be a soldier. Men can be content to be anything but what God would have them. How is it that no man is contented? Very few Christians have learned St Paul’s lesson: neither poor nor rich know how to be content, they can learn anything but this.

If men are poor, they learn to be envious; they malign those that are above them.
Another’s prosperity is an eye-sore. When God’s candle shines upon their neighbor’s tabernacle, this light offends them. In the midst of wants, men can, in this sense, abound, namely, in envy and malice; an envious eye is an evil eye. They learn to be querulous, still complaining, as if God had dealt hardly with them; they are ever telling their wants, they want this and that comfort, whereas their greatest want is a contented spirit. Those that are well enough content with their sin, yet are not content with their condition.

If men are rich, they learn to be covetous; thirsting insatiably after the world, and by unjust means scraping it together; their “right hand is full of bribes,” as the Psalmist expresseth it. (Ps. 26. 10)
Put a good cause in one scale, and a piece of gold in the other, and the gold weighs heaviest. There are, saith Solomon, four things that say, “it is not enough:” (Pr. 30. 15) I may add a fifth; the heart of a covetous man. So that neither poor nor rich know how to be content. Never certainly since the creation did this sin of discontent reign or rather rage more than in our times; never was God more dishonored; you can hardly speak with any, but the passion of his tongue betrays the discontent of his heart; every one lisps out his trouble, and here even the stammering tongue speaks too freely and fluently. If we have not what we desire, God shall not have a good look from us, but presently we are sick of discontent, and ready to die out of an humor. If God will not forgive the people of Israel for their lusts, they bid him take their lives; they must have quails to their manna. Ahab, though a king, and one would think his crown-lands had been sufficient for him, yet is sullen and discontented for Naboth’s vineyard. Jonah though a good man and a prophet, yet ready to die in a pet; and because God killed his gourd, kill me too, saith he. Rachel, “give me children, or I die;” she had many blessings, if she could have seen them, but wanted this contentation.

God will supply our wants, but must he satisfy our lusts too?
Many are discontented for a very trifle; another hath a better dress, a richer jewel, a newer fashion. Nero, not content with his empire, was troubled that the musician had more skill in playing than he. How fantastic are some, that pine away in discontent for the want of those things which if they had, would but render them more ridiculous!


Timotheos said...

Paul said, "Godliness with contentment is great gain." In our place in life, it may appear that discontentment is our lot in life. If that is the case, it is symptomatic of other issues. Namely, have we learned to find our contentment in our pursuit of Christ.

Just this week, a couple in our church allowed their discontent to prompt them to leave our church to go "somewhere else." Their loss is a huge and devastating loss to our 'body.' And, if you think about it, would you please pray for us.

In the Grip of His Grace,

Debbie said...

“Every man is complaining that his estate is no better, though he seldom complains that his heart is no better.”

It is upside-down, no doubt about it. At the root of discontent is the self-life. Could it be that this is one of the most compelling reasons why it is necessary for us to daily “take up his cross” and “deny self” (Luke 9:23)? I can’t tell you how much I appreciate these poignant reminders from the pens of these wonderful writers --- hopefully they lead us to a more diligent commitment and careful obedience to His Word.

Thankful for His perfect provision,


Jo Anne said...

Oh dear...what a great reminder. Contentment is a wonderful virtue.

But wasn't this very propensity at the heart of Eve's sin? Not content with all that God had given her, she reached for the one thing that He withheld.