The dangers of discontentment

Published 3:56 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

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We live in a world filled with discontented individuals. This discontentment robs us all of joy and peace. According to the dictionary, discontentment is a lack of satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation. Most days we find ways to be discontent about some part of our lives. Rather than living lives of grateful contentment, our lives are often filled with complaining. We complain when children are loud, instead of being thankful that they are healthy, happy and in their right mind. We complain about the looks of our home when thousands have no home. We gripe about work when many have no employment. We fuss about our cars when many have never seen a car.
Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13, “11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Paul had to learn how to be content because it does not come natural. We can only be taught true contentment by the Holy Spirit of God. Paul goes on to tell Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6-18, “6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” The apostle says that we should be content if we have food and clothing. Life would be so much more simple, peaceful, and enjoyable if we would learn how to be content.
Benjamin Franklin said, “Contentment makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.” It seems that the more we have, the more we want. Focus on the Family says, “If money can’t buy contentment and poverty doesn’t provide it, what is contentment and how is it attained? Contentment, contrary to popular opinion, does not mean being satisfied where you are. Rather, it is knowing God’s plan for your life, having a conviction to live it, and believing that God’s peace is greater than the world’s problems.” True contentment is knowing God has a distinct plan for our lives, and He is working everything out for our good. So often we get so involved in the day-to-day activities of earning a living and raising a family that we forget our real purpose in life is to serve God and others. We discover that our lives are out of balance and we don’t know how to bring them back into balance. So, we buy more things or get rid of things in order to bring back the balance. However, nothing seems to work.
Christians get trapped into a discontented life by adopting worldly goals: more, bigger, and best. The Bible identifies these as indulgence, greed, and pride. For a while after accepting Christ as Savior, there is a peace and a real willingness and desire to commit everything to God. After a while, there is a tendency to fall back into the same old routine of desiring and getting more, rationalizing that somehow it is “serving the Lord.” The evidence to the contrary is a lack of peace, a lack of spiritual growth, and a growing doubt about God’s ability to provide.
I want to share three ways to start living a contented life. The first thing we must do is be grateful. Gratitude leads to contentment because it shields us from feelings of envy and disappointment no matter how our condition compares to others. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 proclaims, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Philippians 4:6 declares, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” When we start listing all the things we are thankful for, the contentment will begin to flow.
The second things we must do is think correctly. Our minds wander into unhealthy places. We think about what all we do not have rather than all the things we do have. Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” We must think about all our many blessings rather than all the things we feel we want or need.
Finally, we must choose to see, hear, and enjoy Jesus. Hebrews 12:2, “2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We must see Jesus and in Him we will find contentment. Psalms 37:4-5 says, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. Let’s enjoy the Lord the same way that Mary did as she sat at His feet. Martha was discontented with her sister, but Mary had chosen the good part. Let’s choose to live a contented life in the presence of our Lord!
(Brandon Young is pastor of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church in Hampton)

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