We have so much, but we want more. If somebody else has got it and we do not, we want it. Even if we do not need it, and even if God has offered no indication that He wants to give it to us, we think it has got to be ours.
This attitude goes by the name of envy or jealousy or covetousness. (For our purposes, we’ll use the words interchangeably.) Whatever you call this attitude, it is an improper craving for something another person possesses to such an extent that you cannot be happy unless you have it. It is a sinful desire for things that belong to your neighbor.
It is not always wrong to want a possession, person, or quality. There is nothing necessarily blameworthy about wanting to have a new car or to be married or to be able to sing well. It is when we desire someone else’s car or spouse or voice that we go wrong with envy. It is then that we sin and violate the tenth commandment.
Stop for a minute and think about what you do have. You would like to have more money—but how much money do you have? There are some things you would like to own—but what do you own? Perhaps your physical health is limited—but what can you do? How are you blessed with abilities that enable you to create beauty, with friends who bring richness to life, or with good memories that warm your heart in moments of solitude?
A Bible secret to banishing dissatisfaction is thanking our gift-giving God. “Pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done” (Philippians 4:6). “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). The Bible even says, “Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them” (James 1:9).
Gratitude is like a lens that helps us refocus our attention from our perceived lacks (which might not be good for us anyway) to our actual blessings from God. In this way, gratitude leads us to contentment and brings healing to our soul.
When Christ fills your heart and mind, you can be at peace and content with the things, people, and circumstances our sovereign God has placed in your life. The only thing that truly satisfies is knowing Jesus Christ. Striving, coveting, and spending our time wanting what is not available to us can leave us broken and bitter.
God is orchestrating life’s circumstances leading us toward the fulfillment of His plans for our individual lives and for history as a whole. Contentment is a result of trusting the fact that God knows perfectly what is best to give us and when. It is saying yes to His blessings upon us. They are enough; we need no more.
The preceding article is an extract from Chapter 13 of Soul Prescription by Bill Bright and Henry Brandt. To purchase the entire book or e-book click here.