Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
One of the strange aspects of life is not being contented. I call it the disease of discontentment. It seems that once we get something special, we want more. Enough is never enough.
This disease means we walk into our garage and look at our car, which is less than two-years-old, and think we need to trade it in for a new one. Why? Or it means looking at a wardrobe of good clothing and say, I have nothing to wear. There are many other examples I’m sure you could think of. Marriages crumble because one or both partners are not content. They want more than what can be reasonably expected from each other, or others spend too much money on prized possessions they must have. We all have desires—that’s part of living a normal life. There’s nothing wrong with that. Without desires, life would have no driving force. We think that by having status or the appearance of status, this will make us happy. But when that doesn’t work, we try harder to chase the dream.
Is the Grass Really Greener On the Other Side?
When we think other people in our influence circles are doing ‘better’, we become discontent. We somehow want to be where they are at in life. We begin to become ungrateful, frustrated, and even angry at our circumstances—typical signs of discontentment. That can be deadly.
More is not always the best answer.
Our society shouts out, You deserve better than this. But the reality is this: more will not satisfy us. It’s simple, and yet not easy to practice. Maybe you feel convinced that if you had just a little more money, then you would be content and happy. But, I’m sorry, that is wrong. There will always be something else you want or feel you want. Nothing surer! More will not bring us contentment.
More is not always the best answer. Let me give you a simple illustration. Marilyn Monroe was one of the biggest stars of all time. She had glamour and glitz. Monroe died tragically at age 36, a young woman, alone and without a friend. If she had one more movie or magazine cover, one more husband, would it have been enough to satisfy her emptiness? Money was not the answer.
John D. Rockefeller’s life was almost ruined by wealth. At the age of 53, Rockefeller was the world’s only billionaire, earning about a million dollars a week. But he was a sick man who lived on crackers and milk and could not sleep because of worry. When he started giving his money away, his health changed radically, and he lived to celebrate his 98th birthday!
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What Is Your Contentment Based On?
There is a story told of a wealthy industrialist who came across a simple fisherman. The rich man was quite perturbed to see the fisherman sitting back with his feet up next to his boat on a sunny afternoon:
- “Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he demanded.
- “Because I’ve caught enough fish for the day,” replied the fisherman.
- “Why don’t you catch more fish?” asked the rich man.
- “What would I do with them?”
- “You could earn more money,” said the rich man, who was becoming more impatient, “and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish and make more money. Then you could buy more boats and could hire others to help you catch fish. Soon you would have a fleet of boats and would be rich like me!”
- “Then what would I do?”
- “You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the industrialist.
- “What do you think I’m doing right now?” replied the fisherman as he gazed out towards the sea.
One of the reasons for discontent is we live in a spirit of disconnectedness—disconnected from others and our Creator God. We live in isolation and wonder why things go wrong. Other people are our source of community. Discontentment is like a disease—it spreads unless we do something about it.
So if our contentment isn’t supposed to be based on our circumstances, what should it be based on? Probably the one thing that never changes: our God. If our contentment is based on Jesus Christ and Christ alone, the ebbs and flow of life won’t shake us.
If we are content, we will be far more able to see and enjoy what God has given us, instead of bemoaning what we don’t have.