Thursday, April 24, 2008

Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment - Murmuring

It has been a few days since I have posted here, mainly because I have been struggling with Chapters 8, 9, & 10. This section of Jeremiah Burroughs' The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment deals with the evils and aggravations of murmuring, and I have been convicted, challenged, and changed as a result. Let me quote one small portion, and then provide some personal commentary and application.

God expects that every day you should spend some time in blessing his name for what mercy he has granted to you. There is not one of you in the lowest condition but you have an abundance of mercies to bless God for, but discontentedness makes them nothing. I remember an excellent saying that Luther has: 'This is the rhetoric of the Spirit of God' he said, 'to extenuate evil things, and to amplify good things: if a cross comes to make the cross but little, but if there is a mercy to make the mercy great.' Thus, if there is a cross, where the Spirit of God prevails in the heart, the man or woman will wonder that it is no greater, and will bless God that though there is such a cross, yet that it is no greater, and will bless God that though there is such a cross, yet that it is no more: that is the work of the Spirit of God; and if there is a mercy, he wonders at God's goodness, that God granted so great a mercy. (pg. 155)

How often these past couple of days have I found myself guilty of a murmuring spirit, primarily as it relates to my secular work. Complaining about the dictates of absent management, changes in policy, lack of direction, etc. all may appear justifiable, yet I have become convinced that they are a grevious sin against God. You might actually have "the pointy haired boss" as your supervisor, but that doesn't allow one to murmur and complain. Let me elaborate further with the following contrast:

I live in the most free, most prosperous society ever to grace the planet. I have a well-paying job with good working conditions, performing tasks that are both challenging and satisfying. By any standards I am rich in material blessings. I have a loving wife who has been my faithful companion for almost 30 years. I have two wonderful children who love me, and four grandchildren who adore me. I have the great privilege of being the under-shepherd for a small flock of God's children. I have good health. God has blessed me with His gifts and His blessings in almost every way. Any complaints coming from me in any area are a great wickedness.

Yet. what if I lived in the most repressive impoverished of nations? What if I was a miserable beggar sitting in the dust? What if I bereft of any material blessings? What if my wife and children had been taken from me by disease or famine? What if I never knew the blessing of opening God's Word for my own benefit, let alone have the privilege of exegeting it for others? What if my body was wracked by disease? What if I was considered to be one of the poorest of the poor, and most to be pitied? Would I have any grounds for complaint? No, no, and no. I would still be required to bless the name of the living God and pour out my heart in thansgiving to Him for His mercies and blessings. It would be my duty to give Him praise and to humble myself before Him, offering the sacrifice of praise that He deserves. At the very least I would be required to thank Him that I was not in Hell as I deserve.

Oh what a wickedness it is that those of us who have been blessed by God beyond measure should find one word of complaint on our lips or one thread of murmuring in our spirits.

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
(Psalm 103, ESV)

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