I’m grateful to the folks at Cross Focused Reviews and Reformation Heritage Books for the opportunity to review Jeremiah Burroughs’ Contentment, Prosperity, and God’s Glory for this week’s blog tour. In case you haven’t heard of him, Burroughs (d. 1646) was a great Puritan preacher-theologian and a member of the Westminster Assembly. He is probably most known for his excellent book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.
This book, Contentment, Prosperity, and God’s Glory, is essentially an explanation of a phrase in Philippians 4:11-12 where Paul talks about contentment and says, “I know how to abound.” In just over 100 pages, Burroughs gives Scripture texts and illustrations that teach Christians how to handle prosperity in a godly way. In Burrough’s opinion – which I agree with – it is far more difficult to handle prosperity in a godly way than it is to handle poverty in a way that pleases the Lord. Here’s how Burroughs puts it:
“…It’s better to know how to honor God with those good things I have than to know how I can get more. It’s better to know how I might behave myself in the enjoyment of those good things God has given me than to know how to get more of those good things. …It’s a good sign of grace to be more concerned about how to abound than how to get abundance – to be careful to use what you have for God than to maintain it for yourselves” (p. 10-11).
In other words, rather than always trying to get more money, we should always be trying to be content with what we have and use our possessions in a way that glorifies God.
Here’s the structure of the book: First, Burroughs explains what it means to handle prosperity rightly. Second, he points out how difficult it is to handle prosperity in a godly manner. Third, he shows the need to handle prosperity well. Fourth, he writes about the excellency and mystery of being prosperous in a godly way. He then talks about the sinfulness of being prosperous in an ungodly manner. Finally, Burroughs gives practical application on how to live with prosperity while treasuring Christ above it. The book ends with some words on contentment from the Psalms.
Contentment, Prosperity, and God’s Glory has been edited slightly to make it easier for modern readers to understand. In my opinion, the editing was well done. I’m pretty sure most Christians will be able to understand this book and benefit from it since it is short, clearly structured, and highly relevant in our super-wealthy culture. In fact, some Christians will be convicted by this book since it’s main point is the exact opposite of the social gospel. When you finish this book, you just might begin to think that getting more stuff should not be a high priority in your Christian life. It’s a tough pill to swallow because it means we must go against the flow of our consumerist culture.
I highly recommend this book for those readers of ours who have much – money, possessions, status, and stuff. This book will pry open your white-knuckled grip on the things of the world. And it might hurt. But it will show you the greatest treasure, Christ himself. He is far more valuable than all the things of this world which pass away.
rev shane lems