A review of Jeremiah Burroughs’ “Contentment, Prosperity, and God’s Glory”
I was told once that the sharpest knife cuts the cleanest and heals the fastest. That statement holds true for the new edition of an old Puritan classic, “Contentment, Prosperity, and God’s Glory” by Jeremiah Burroughs. The publisher, Reformation Heritage Books has taken this classic and did an amazing job of updating it without compromising the content. Most Christian readers, if they are aware of Burroughs, know him from his more popular work, “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment”, of which this work is an epilogue of sorts.
Taken from his studies on Philippians 4:11-12, Burroughs is laboring to convey to the Christian that though being poor is difficult, when it comes to the Glory of God and the praise and worship He is due, being `full’ or `prosperous’ is far more difficult. Here is a sentence that captures his message: “When a man knows how to enjoy God in his abundance, to be led to Him by his possessions, to acknowledge Him in all things, and to be thankful to Him in all things, he has truly learned how to abound”. And that is truly what Burroughs is aiming at: teaching the Christian that has been blessed by God with riches and fullness in this life, to be very careful, to learn how to be full, and to use the blessing of riches for the spreading of the Gospel.
I had a season in my life where I made more than the median income and much more than I am making now. All of the money is gone. Every penny. So as I read the book, I felt the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit working through the author to shine His light upon my foolishness. It wasn’t that I was out wasting the money in ways that would shame the church or bring reproach to our Savior, but certainly in my days of prosperity my daily time with Him was less frequent, my prayers were shallow and superficial, and my overall spiritual health was in need of improvement. In reading this book, I now know why. I had not learned how to be full. I needed to learn, as Paul declared in Philippians, `to know how to abound.’
If your desire is for wealth or at least material comfort in this world, please read this book. If you are already blessed by God in such a way that your `abound’, please read this book. If you are of lesser means and you envy the rich, please read this book. And if you are in fact perfectly content with whatever state God has you, please read this book so as to keep your guard up.
Do not be intimidated by the fact that this was written many centuries ago, it is fresh and relevant as if it were written today. I enthusiastically recommend this book, regardless of where you are in your spiritual journey.