Contentment Amidst Reproach

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Thomas Watson, The Art of Divine Contentment, page 58:

“It is a sign there is some good in you. The applause of the wicked, usually denotes some evil in us—and their censure usually imports some good in us. (Psalm 38:20) David wept and fasted, and that was turned to his ‘reproach’. (Pe. 4:14) As we must pass to heaven through the spikes of suffering, so through the clouds of reproach.”

In American evangelicalism we are so far disconnected from the everyday suffering our brothers and sisters are enduring for Christ’s sake in other countries. You would think that being overly “blessed” with stuff has made us very spoiled and hence very discontent. Paul said in prison that he had learned to be content with much and with little. 

The Apostles, as “little Christs” or Christians, endured some horrendous reproaches, even to their death, at least for eleven of them. 

When we meditate on the sufferings and reproach that Christ had endured for us, we are humbled, or at least we should be. How could the God Man suffer all that and do so willingly?

 Christ is the Son of God, but in His humility and love He bore reproach and shame for a people that He would call His own. Most of us will never experience even a small measure of the reproach our Lord did, but we sometimes act as though we have. How many times have we gotten mad or annoyed at people that are snarky and rude to us. We think “How dare they talk to me that way!”

Or should I say, when was the last time we were offended? Why were we offended? Was it because we thought we did not deserve such treatment? Isn’t that right?

But Christ did not deserve to be beaten, reviled, or spit on, and yet He did not revile back. In fact, in the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed:

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:41-42).

Jesus, the God-Man, condescended to come to earth and His example is our guide in all circumstances. It is not “that was then, this is now.” No, we are His people and we follow His commands. Christ prayed essentially that if God was willing He would ask for His cup of suffering to be withdrawn and at the same time he wanted and was content with the Father’s will. Thus, He prayed “Lord’s Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

We can agree that Jesus suffered much, much more than we could even imagine. Our minds cannot comprehend His physical suffering. But we can become very offended at how folks treat us and we see nothing except how that affects us, thinking first of ourselves when our first thought should be on Christ’s reaction to so much more and that it should mirror our Saviors response.

Thomas Watson, The Art of Divine Contentment, page 58:

“Jesus Christ was content to be reproached by us. He ‘endured the cross, scorning its shame.’ (He. 12:2) It may amaze us to think that he who was God, could endure to be spit upon, and be crowned with thorns; and when he was ready to bow his head upon the cross, to have the Jews in scorn, wag their heads and say, ‘he saved others, himself he cannot save.’ The shame of the cross was as much as the blood of the cross! His name was crucified before his body. The sharp arrows of reproach which the world shot at Christ, went deeper into his heart, than the spear! His suffering was so ignominious, that the sun blushed to behold it. It withdrew its bright beams, and masked itself with a cloud; (and well it might, when the Sun of Righteousness was in an eclipse) All this revilement and reproach, did the ‘O then let us be content to have our names eclipsed for Christ; let not reproach lie at our heart—but let us bind it as a crown about our head! These who are discontented at a reproach, will avoid any persecution for Christ.’”

We will be reproached for Christ. That is a certainty. It is how we identify reproach, that is for our Lord and reproach that offends our own pride. 

One reproach is where you are being harassed, ignored, or accused of something false in the name of Christ. The latter reproach is temporal. Both should be treated as Christ responded in the most horrific example of reproach. 

Christ did not petition the Father that He did not understand, that He was really going through something and that the circumstances need to change immediately. No, he did not. He asked that if it be God’s will the cup of suffering would be taken, but He rested ultimately in the providence and plan of God.

Are we resting today in our illnesses, family strife, marriage, etc.? Are we trusting God and seeking His revealed will in Scripture? If we are not, we should be. If we are not, we are disobeying God. We are saying that we know better than Him. And that is prideful, faithless, and sin.

Things to think about:

  1. Cultivate a heart of contentment. Feast on Scripture. 
  2. When we dwell on our offenses, we become bitter and discontent. 
  3. Philippians 4:8 (ESV): “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

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