Contentment is a tricky subject. I’ve been reading the Puritan classic, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, and I am taking it slow because it is so meaty.

Then this Sunday our pastor preached from Philippians 4, which included verse 11: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

What is contentment?

The dictionary gives us several definitions:

* in a state of peaceful happiness
* satisfied with a certain level of achievement, good fortune, etc., and not wishing for more
* a state of satisfaction
* accept as adequate despite wanting more or better
* ready to accept or acquiesce; willing:

But Jeremiah Burrough’s definition is my new favorite:

Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.

The rest of his book is really a commentary, phrase by phrase, on this definition.

He also writes this admonition:

To be well skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory, and excellence of a Christian.

Emphasizing that contentment is a heart-condition, a disposition, a matter of the inner spirit and not circumstance, Burroughs says contentment is a “grace spread through the whole soul” and a judgment that is “satisfied in the hand of God.”

I thought it was fascinating that one of the attitudes he used as counter to contentment is distractedness and instability, not being set firmly on a purpose:

We should prize duty more highly than to be distracted by every trivial occasion.

And one of the points my pastor made was that contentment is a trait learned. It isn’t something you’re zapped with. It is a process, something we grow in.

May we all do so.


  1. I would suggest The Liberal Arts Tradition first since it takes a broader view. It covers everything from the foundational studies needed for a liberal arts education to the Trivium and Quadrivium, and goes on to Philosophy and Theology. Beauty in the Word is an in depth look at the Trivium.

  2. Liberal arts tradition. I read this book and I am completely inspired to bring classical education to my kids. They make classical education sing.

  3. Beauty in The World is my vote.

    Do you need a copy of Liberal Arts Tradition? I have one to send you if you like…

  4. Did you finish Consider This? You still have the cover showing. I’ll snoop around for review.

    I went to a women’s retreat several years ago on this topic of contentment and am finding myself in need of some reminders. This was a good start :)

  5. I did finish Consider This, but I forgot to take out the cover picture. :) I’m hoping my review will be ready for next Wednesday.

    Thanks, Kortney! I do own both books already. I do definitely want to read both.

  6. I know that I am late (as always) and you have probably made your decision but I will just say that I did not like The Liberal Arts Tradition. I couldn’t even finish it. I found it to be too clinical, may I even go so far as to say boring? I am a huge fan of Caldecott so I would say go with Beauty in the Word.

  7. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment took me all of 2014 to read, but it impacted me so much! The book only got better as it progressed.

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