Here are 10 things that create discontent. Do you relate to any of them?
We’re constantly bombarded with messages designed to create discontent with who we are or what we have. The advertising industry is built on this and most media is built on advertising.
We are constantly told “Get what you deserve.” Discontent arises because “I’m not getting what I deserve.”
Fear of missing out.
4. Jealousy, envy, and covetousness
“My neighbour has a better, bigger, newer _____ than I do!”
“A little more is never enough.”
6. Temporal values
Valuing material and temporal things above spiritual things.
Your glass is always half empty.
Projecting to when I finally get ______ (for example, a house, retire, enough money).
Nothing is ever quite good enough.
10. Misguided thinking
Focusing on the circumstances and blaming our circumstances for our discontent.
Paul was human just like us, yet he wrote that he learned the secret of being content.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11–13 NIV)
When he wrote that he was confined and under Roman guard. Yet how could he say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”? He says he “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,” including all the good, the bad, and the ugly circumstances he experienced.
Paul could write this because he also wrote, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8 NLT).
When we boil it all down discontent comes because we are focused on a particular prize—having, being, or doing something—but not possessing it. Being thwarted somehow creates discontent and anxiety. That means discontent is an inner indication that my mind is set on the wrong things.
The secret to contentment is having a different prize. Paul’s prize in life was knowing Christ. That made everything else in comparison so inconsequential he considered them garbage. The same holds true for us. When we treasure and value Christ above all, everything else is automatically devalued.
How can we learn contentment? Here are some practical steps.
Recognize that God is the source and provider of everything you have
- He gives every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)
- He supplies needs (Matthew 6:25–32)
- He gives the ability to create wealth (Deuteronomy 8:17–18)
- He is good and kind and gracious to all (Psalm 145:9)
- Desire the Giver not the gifts He gives
Make a deliberate decision to value knowing Christ Jesus more than anything else
- Focus on Him as our sufficiency
- Through Him we can do all things, have all the riches in glory by Him, and be who He wants us to be
- Making a deliberate choice to value knowing Him above everything else increases our affection for Christ and our affection for the things of the world decreases. This is because, "wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be" (Matthew 6:21)
- Like the old hymn says, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus...and the things of earth will grow strangley dim"
Take the word “deserve” out of your vocabulary
Stop thinking you deserve something because you exist. Remember, everything this side of hell is grace.
Stop comparing yourself and what you have to others and what they have
Make expressing gratitude a habit
It is hard to sincerely give thanks and be discontented at the same time.
Become aware of discontent when it surfaces
Grumbling and complaining are telltale signs.
When discontented, repent of it and ask the Lord to lift your eyes, to redirect and renew your longing for Him above all
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:1–5)