Contentment Is A Rare Jewel

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs (1648) is a must-read book. I find it from time to time on Amazon. One of the great benefits of the book is his definition of contentment. Of course, definitions are critical for understanding any word or content, so here is the definition of contentment that we adapted from Jeremiah Burroughs. 

A sweet, inward, quiet, gracious, active frame of spirit that freely submits to and delights in God’s wisdom and perfection in all circumstances.

Below is more information about each word in the definition.

Contentment Is A Rare Jewel

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content... Philippians 4:11

Sweet, inward

Contentment is not about what shows on the outside, although it impacts what you show the world. Instead, contentment is part of the essence of who you are. And, it isn't fake like the Dennis the Menace cartoon where he is in his timeout chair in the corner of the room. The caption under the comic says, “I may be sitting down in the corner, but I am standing up in my heart!”

That is far from what contentment is. It isn't an act; it is part of your being.

“Truly, my soul silently waits for God. From Him comes my salvation.” – Psalm 62:1

“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” – Psalm 62:5


Contentment supports...

  • knowing that you are in a difficult time, in suffering. It does not ignore reality. It faces reality and recognizes this difficulty is part of growing and becoming the vessel God desires.
  • communicating the pain and difficulty of going through a situation to God and appropriate friends. There is nothing wrong with stating the truth, God already knows it, but friends and relatives may not. Where it goes wrong is you end up complaining about your circumstance instead of simply stating how it is.
  • seeking help or desiring deliverance. Contentment does not limit you from pursuing help. Again, be careful; your sin nature turns your communication into a pitiful and needy attitude.

Contentment opposes...

  • Murmuring and complaining - What a great picture of our sin nature and a life that is all about "ME."
  • Fretting and vexing – Those two words are great older words that get your attention. Those words express the worry that consumes you in your problems. Unfortunately, those times demonstrate that you doubt God's plan and desire for you in this circumstance, which isn't contentment.
  • Inner commotion and turmoil creating confusion - Your mind is torn from the simplicity of truth and what God says is true.
  • An unsettled spirit - Your spirit doubts the perfection of God, which quickly results in rash actions (Acts 19:36)
  • Distracting and heart-consuming cares - Those things separate your thoughts from the goodness of God and His care for you.
  • Sinking discouragements - The circumstance appears impossible because there is no vision or trust in God at that time.
  • Sinful shifting and shirking responsibility - You seek relief and help by blaming others.
  • Rebellion - A great word that demonstrates satanic actions. It is a description of Satan and his fall from heaven.


  • Contentment is a grace that spreads itself through the whole soul
  • It is a grace that comes from the disposition of the heart
  • It is a grace that comes from your authentic character


It is easy to miss the beauty of contentment and assume that it means you are dull and melancholy in your spirit or even stoic in affliction. No, it is active and honors God in the face of all your pain. Do not assume this is about mental strength; instead, it is dependent on God's strength. It depends on an intimate relationship with God that chooses to honor Him no matter the suffering. You consistently trust in the power of the Lord, who walks through this circumstance with you and makes you more like Jesus. Therefore, it is very active!

…frame of spirit

When contentment is in your life, it is from your essence, inner elements, energy, and source of life. Your beliefs create your disposition or attitude that shows in your feelings and actions.

…freely submits

For clarity, "freely" is somewhat redundant when in front of submission. Why? Our definition of submission includes the essence of freedom which is "an internal, voluntary act of the will to yield to another."

The definitions in some English dictionaries are similar, but the usage examples aren't, which implies different thinking about the word. For example, the New Oxford American Dictionary defines submission as “the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person." They then use this sentence – they were forced into submission.

Contentment follows our definition of submission, a voluntary act of the will to yield.

…delights in

Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday – Psalm 37:4-6

Please note that the desires of your heart come from delighting in the Lord, not from delighting in worldly desires! When you delight in the Lord, your desires become like His, which are substantially better than yours.

…God’s wisdom and perfection

Volumes are available to read about both of these elements. When you read God’s wisdom literature like Proverbs, He states what is wise for you. It does not display the vastness of the wisdom of God Himself, although, He provides glimpses through the marvelous ways He instructs you to live daily.

It is difficult to accept the PERFECTION of God when you look through human eyes. Your human view of life limits your vision of this current painful situation. There isn't a human way that interprets this situation as best for you. Contentment helps you see the case through God's eyes and trust His absolute, complete perfection.

Your definition of best will rarely match God’s. Just like Jesus’ statements, "first will be last and the last will be first." CONTENTMENT is IMPOSSIBLE without trusting your PERFECT FATHER GOD! all circumstances.

Contentment is possible in ALL circumstances. Nothing is left out, both the big and small, important and unimportant, painful and pleasurable. That requires believing in a PERFECT Father God Who pursues your best in ALL circumstances. Unfortunately, we are so sight-oriented that we ignore faith. But faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). It takes faith to believe ALL circumstances are for your best.

Now that you have details about how we see the word contentment. Please let me know what you think about the definition.

5 Key Learnings

Finally, here are five essential thoughts from The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. There are many more, but these are great. 

  1. Contentment can be learned - it does not just happen
  2. Contentment is internal and not external - it is deep within, unrelated to the external
  3. Contentment is subtraction, not addition - subtract everything except God
  4. Contentment seeks to please God - because He is the source of contentment and rest
  5. Contentment accepts what God is doing to us - not what we are doing for God

PURSUING THEIR BEST - Freedom in Relationships

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