A good question for all of us to ask, “Am I content because of the material things I have in this world or because of the internal things I have in Jesus?” Is our content mostly from within or without?
Jeremiah Burroughs masterfully illustrates the difference when he says…
To be content as a result of some external thing is like warming a man’s clothes by the fire. But to be content through an inward disposition of the soul is like the warmth that a man’s clothes have from the natural heat of his body.
A man who is healthy in body puts on clothes, and perhaps at first on a cold morning they feel cold. but after he has had them on a little while they are warm. Now, how did they get warm? They were not near the fire? No, this came from the natural heat of his body.
Now when a sickly man, the natural heat of whose body has deteriorated, puts on his clothes, they do not get hot after a long time. He must warm them by the fire, and even then they will soon be cold again.
The warmth of the fire, that is, a contentment that results merely from external things, will not last long. But that which comes from the gracious temper of one’s spirit will last. (Taken from The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p. 6).
If your contentment comes from the external things, once they are taken away you will quickly realize the bankruptcy and sickness of your soul. However, if you are content because of the things you have from Christ, whatever be taken away, you will find yourself warmed by His grace. The Apostle Paul teaches this with crystal clarity when he says, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).
So, why are you content? Is it because of external things or internal things? Is it because of what you have in the world or what you have in Christ?
May your soul be warmed by the flame of Christ’s unceasing love and not the world’s fickle fire. May we be warm from within.