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The Challenge of Contentment When We Have Much

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Our journey there and back again, from the dense bush of East Africa to the prairies of Canada, we frequently wrestled with the tension between having enough and having too much (although even defining "enough" proved an enormous challenge).

Balancing our own comfort with the cultural context, we'd consider whether we really needed a solar panel for electricity or whether another trip to the city was necessary. A steady diet of rice and beans - with the occasional goat, camel or shark meat - didn’t leave us wanting.

Now six years after we’ve been back, all those considerations have long faded way. What we have now is a far cry from what we did then, but discontent can rise just as easily, though it may not look the same.

It’s surprising to live in a world that has what they need yet feels so unsatisfied.

Why is it difficult to be content when you have so much?

Preacher Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) sought to answer this very relevant question through teaching a sermon series on Philippians 4:11-12. He saw the need in congregations and in his own life, to discover a life of contentment in the midst of need and trials. For Burroughs, “a Christian could find contentment in any circumstance if Christ Himself was his cherished possession.”

Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory by Jeremiah Burroughs was prepared as a conclusion to his sermon series and this edition is edited to ease the flow of reading for the modern reader. He writes to help us consider not how to become wealthy, but how to live with wealth in a way that honours God.

“It’s a good sign of grace to be more concerned about how to abound than how to get abundance-to be more careful to use what you have for God than to maintain it for yourselves.”

He explores what it means to be content, both in prosperity and affliction, and why it’s difficult for us to learn. He addresses quite a few points on these topics that I really hadn’t considered. It’s a simple conclusion that a life of prosperity can lead to temptation and sin, but he also points out that it’s harder to grow spiritually because wealth hinders dependence on Christ.

“The truth is that times of prosperity and abundance can provide some of the strongest temptations to pull our hearts away from God”

He then teaches on the necessity of learning to be full and the excellency of it for the Christian life, considering the benefits for God’s kingdom and the witness of Christ. Then he points out the mystery of growing in contentment, which addresses how it’s possible and lessons the Christian learns to walk in it.

Burroughs preached this message to the 15th century church struggling in prosperity and it’s just as relevant for us today! He writes, “certainly there are no men in the world who have so much need of prayer as those who are elevated by wealth.” When believers in developing countries are praying for us, I think this is why.

This short book is an excellent challenge for those who have their physical needs met and more. We are challenged toward a life of faithfulness in whatever circumstances the Lord has given us, knowing abundance is the most difficult!! Burroughs shows us why and the temptations faced in wealth and how it pulls us away from God rather than toward. He gives us lessons on learning to grow in our fullness, that God would be glorified.

Grab this book to consider the dangers of wealth and prosperity and how to grow in godliness in it.

Quick Stats

# of pages: 144

Level of difficulty: Moderate

My Rating: 5 stars!

*No disclaimer :) I bought this one!


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