Are you discontent? There may be at least two situations where you may be discontent. The first is when you don’t have everything you need – you are in a bad situation. Perhaps you don’t have enough to eat or you are in pain that stays with you or you are experiencing some other bad circumstance that won’t readily go away. See how the Apostle Paul learned to be content in such circumstances. Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” How could Paul be content when he was in need? In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were in the city of Philippi preaching when they were arrested, beaten with rods and thrown into prison. At midnight they were praying and singing hymns to God. In such circumstances, how could they praise God and not complain? The answer is that they depended upon the strength that came from Jesus Christ to get them through the bad situation. Rather than complain, they trusted in God and in Jesus, knowing that the bad was temporary and that God would eventually bless them.
The second situation where you may be discontent is when you are just unhappy with the way things are in your life? There are many things about which you can be discontent; let me suggest a few. You can be discontent with yourself – your height, your weight, your appearance, or your health. You can be discontent with your possessions – you want more or newer or nicer possessions. The possessions you are discontent with could be your dwelling, your transportation, your tools, your toys or your treasures. You can be discontent with the people in your life – your co-workers, your friends, your spouse, your parents, your children (or lack thereof) or your fellow Christians. Or maybe you are discontent with the very basic, physical things of life – the food given you to eat, the clothes you have, the shelter and bed you will use tonight. And why are you discontent? Have you compared yourself to others and think that they have it better than you and you want what they have? That could be described by the word covetousness which the Apostle Paul calls idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Or maybe you are just unhappy in your heart and you want more or you want different.
It is not wrong to improve a bad situation. If your health is bad, you can work to improve your health. If your vehicle of transportation is not working well, you may be able to obtain a better one. But what about when you can’t easily change things? You can’t change your height. You can’t change your family members. Maybe you can’t afford to purchase the possessions you want. Are you then discontent or do you accept what God has given you? Part of the serenity prayer says “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
The Apostle Paul taught us in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” When you are discontent and desire to be rich, you fall into temptations, snares, and foolish and harmful lusts which lead to your downfall. Money is not bad of itself. But the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.
My encouragement to you is to learn to be content. Hebrews 13:5-6 “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” Godliness with contentment demonstrates you faith and trust in God – He will never leave you nor forsake you.