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Contentment at Christmas

The secret to having a truly happy Christmas. By Stephen Nicholls.

Here are a few proverbs from the Bible to mix in with the Christmas festivities: “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. Better a dish of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.”
Proverbs 15:16 – 17

“The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.”
Proverbs 11:6

Here is a modern paraphrase: “It’s better to have a little and have harmony and love in your home than have everything plush and new and a house full of strife. It’s better to have a basic meal from Sainsburys on Christmas Day than a fancy M&S turkey dinner with all the trimmings but a whole pile of aggravation with it.”

The rare jewel of Christian contentment

I used to have a book called The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. I lent it to someone and never got it back. It was written 400 years ago by a man called Jeremiah Burroughs. Contentment was apparently rare then in those Puritan days (when Christmas was banned for a while) and it’s rare today – but if you have true contentment in Christ, it is the jewel in the crown of Christian character and a wonderfully attractive thing.

As we come up to Christmas we need to remember that the STUFF that the adverts tell us we all need will never satisfy us. We will end up disappointed and so will our children if we try and find satisfaction in what we can have and hold.

But if we know Christ and are satisfied in Him, in whom are hidden ‘all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’, we will be content with what He gives us and know thankfulness and joy. On the other hand a blessing that does not come from God – a ‘thing’ we have grasped for ourselves in our greed and covetousness – will always have a sting in the tail. It will always come with trouble.

A prayer for Christmas

So as you look forward to the fun of Christmas this year, here is another proverb, this time a prayer of Asaph:

“give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonour the name of my God.”
Proverbs 30:7 – 9

So under the tree this Christmas, ask for neither poverty nor riches. That means being thankful and enjoying the blessings God has given you and not being tempted to think that ‘just a little bit more’ would make you happy. Seek the ‘rare jewel of Christian contentment’. It works better that way.

Here are two quotes from the book:

Jeremiah Burroughs defines contentment this way, “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.”

“In a clock, stop but one wheel and you stop every wheel, because they are dependent upon one other. So when God has ordered a thing for the present to be thus and thus, how do you know how many things depend upon this thing? God may have some work to do twenty years hence that depends on this passage of providence that falls out this day or this week.”

You can buy the book The rare Jewel of Christian Contentment on Amazon for £6 or on Kindle for 99p or you can download the pdf for free on the internet.

I would lend you mine, but it’s gone missing…

Written by Stephen Nicholls.

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