By Ronnie Lee
There is a saying that goes like this, “The discontentment and frustration that you feel is entirely your own creation.” When reflecting on this, it brings us to terms on how one can so easily fall into sin, anxiety, boredom, depression, and despair because of discontentment. The scripture provides us the insight as to why we need to have faith firmly rooted in Jesus Christ to help us overcome the world with all its ills, including discontentment (1 John 5:4-5).
Many of the ills begin with our desire to get ahead with our lives in terms of what the world can offer, from the day we get into education to career or starting a family life or securing a comfortable life for ourselves. These are real challenges each Christian would face in our daily walk with Christ. There are just too many conflicting views on what “discontent” means. Some say it is evil: “A man’s discontent is his worst evil.” While others say it’s good: “Restlessness and discontent are the necessities of progress” or “Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.”
Is discontentment bad for a Christian?
What’s so wrong about being in a state of “discontent”? Discontent is defined as the “Absence of contentment; dissatisfaction; a restless longing for better circumstances” (American Heritage dictionary).
One obvious danger is the effect on our relationship with God. Because of covetousness, we become idolaters! (Eph 5:3-5; Col 3:5). We are laden with dissatisfaction and ungratefulness towards what God has given us.What do some bible believing people around the world say about this? “Whenever you find yourself disposed to uneasiness or murmuring at anything that is the effect of God’s providence, look upon yourself as denying either the wisdom or goodness of God.” “Complaining about our lot in life might seem quite innocent in itself, but God takes it personally.”
Discontentment also poses the danger of hurting oneself in the process. Contentment is a virtue highly praised and valued: “The contented man is never poor, the discontented never rich” as quoted by an unknown writer. The scripture gives us another angle to reflect on that is, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (1Tim 6:6). Discontentment hurts those who possessesit: “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, who is poor.” (Seneca, 4 B.C.-65 A.D). We only make ourselves unhappy by being discontent.
Because of unhappiness due to discontentment, one will act in a manner to fulfil his or her wants and may result in hurting others. Such discontentment accompanied with complaining is condemned in the Scriptures (1Cor 10:10; Phil 2:14-15). Much unhappiness is inflicted upon our families and loved ones as the result of covetousness because of the discontentment in our own lives. This is a matter worth serious consideration, though many are unaware of the impact of such selfishness. To overcome discontent, let’s look to the One who has overcome the world.
How to Live a Contented Life?
1. Through Jesus’ teachings.
Jesus taught us what’s truly important in life and it’s not about the material abundance (Luke12:13-15) but being rich toward God! (Luke12:16-21). Jesus’ instruction to us is to lay up our treasures in heaven as earthly treasures will decay or can even be stolen (Matt 6:19). Ourtreasures in heaven are safely guarded (Matt 6: 20; 1 Pet 1:4) and most of all, setting our hearts upon that which cannot be destroyed (Matt 6:21). Where are our hearts today?
2. Through Jesus’ Promises.
Jesus promised not just to be with us always (Matt 28:20; Heb 13:5-6) but God also will pgive us His Providential care (Matt 6:30-33; 7:7-11; 10:29-31) helping us in our needs so that we will not have to worry about the cares of this world. Isn’t that a bliss?
3. Through faith in Jesus.
Even as Paul, in whatever state he was in, learned submission so that through the power of Christ in him, he remain contented (Phil 4:11-13). It has been said that “Contentment is the power to get out of any situation all there is in it.” Paul made the best of his imprisonment(Phil1:12-14) and demonstrated how his circumstances enhanced that which was truly important, that is, the spreading of the gospel. It’s also been said that “Contentment is not the fulfilment of what you want, but rather the realisation of how much you already have.”Wow! Is this a real mind opener to consider. Apostle Paul realised how blessed he was! For God has supplied all his needs! (Phil 4:19). Even when he knew his life was near its end (2Tim 4:18).
How Contented Are We With Our Lives?
The world lives in two “tents”. Con”tent” or Discon”tent”.Which “tent” do we live in? Paul chose to live in a constant state of Content: one that can be learned and enjoyed through our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Paul encouraged us to follow his example, to have the same relationship with God (Phil 4:9). To learn of his “ways in Christ” which he taught in every church (1 Cor 4:16-17). I am sure such ways” are also certainly included in those taught by our Lord Jesus Himself!
Are we inspired by Paul’s epistle to the Galatians when he said: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20). If we truly “live by faith in the Son of God”, it will result in the faith that will have victory in Christ (1 Cor15:57), even in overcoming discontentment! How strong is our conviction in Christ Jesus that will help withstand the barrages of the worldly distractions when we are in the state of constant discontentment?