There are no verses in the Bible that use the word discontented or discontentment except 1 Samuel 22:2. “And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him (David); and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” From the dictionary the word discontented is defined as: “The state of being uneasy in mind; uneasiness; inquietude; discontent.” To be discontent is to desire circumstances different from what you have, to restlessly long for circumstances that you think are better than what you have, being dissatisfied. 1 Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” God wants us to be contented in spirit.
Discontentment is the opposite of contentment, which is to be satisfied, a resting or satisfaction of mind without disquiet; acquiescence. There is a spirit of discontentment, yet not all discontentments are bad. There are two types of discontentment, one is good and the other is bad.
It is only when you are discontented with your present situation that you will do something to change it. Being truly discontented with your prayer life, will cause you to do something about it. Being discontented with you walk with God or you level of your relationship or commitment with Christ that will cause you to work to re-order your priorities. It is discontentment with your faithfulness with the Lord and what you have or are doing for Him that will bring you to rethinking your motives and purpose and direction in life.
But there is also a bad or dark side to discontentment. This dark side of discontentment comes from covetousness. It is another word for covetousness. Covetousness is nothing more than the craving for what we don’t have, the craving for what someone else has that we don’t. Covetousness is the craving for circumstances that are different from our own, whether we see them in another person that we know or not. It is the craving for what someone is, what someone else has, the life or circumstances of another.
Covetousness is always shortsighted and sees only the moment. Covetousness never sees the larger picture or the long term or affect of being covetous, but only concerns itself with immediate desires and needs. Yes, we all have immediate needs and some times they are important and I don’t dismiss that as a reality of life, but covetousness is always focused on immediate gratification of what we desire or want, healthy or unhealthy, as to covet that which belongs to another, as his wife or her husband. Covetousness will always make you unthankful and ungrateful in life and for what you have. It will cause you to pout within your spirit, to feel sorry for yourself and pity yourself even if it isn’t obvious to others and is very damning to our having a happy and fruitful life.
To deal with this problem of covetousness, a major problem in life, so major that God put that as one of the basic commandments for life, “Thou shat not covet.” No matter what it is! Exodus 20:17 “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.” Romans 13:9 “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” So you see, it is one of the five most important things or commands of God that have to do with man’s relationships with other men. Yet it is not as obvious to others or ourselves, as killing or stealing or committing adultery, yet to God it is just as sinful and evil. James 4:2-3 says, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” So coveting is the cause of even murder as well as theft. The basis of coveting is pride. God didn’t make a commandment out of that and say, “thou shalt not be proud” but yet it is one of the very basics of sin and evil. 1 John 2:16 puts it this way, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” Both the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh come from covetousness, behind which is pride. Lusting after what is not yours, whether you neighbor’s house or wife, is covetousness and it is pride that says, “I deserve better.”
There are two things about covetousness that we must accept and realize: First:
Covetousness is Deceptive! Notice the words of Jesus in Luke 12:15 “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” “Take heed,” or ‘Watch Out! Be on your guard’. This is absolutely contradictory to everything that our culture is and represents and all that our society is based upon and goes by. If you truly believed the words of Jesus, you would change your lifestyle and priorities. He is telling us to not live this way.
Do you know that the marketing machine of the western world spends billions of dollars a year in advertising their products? What is the purpose of all advertising? It is to make you discontented. Discontented and unhappy with whom you are, how you look, what you have, what you do and everything about your life? Why? Because that is the only way they can sell you their products. They work to convince you that you need their product and that your life will be better if you get it, your life will be happier, fulfilled, healthy, and more enjoyable or whatever is the basis for selling their product. They try to tell you that you will be miserable and unfulfilled or unhappy until you buy their product, which will change everything. But the reality is, none of their products will ever do what they say or advertise. Oh, yes some things are beneficial and I don’t deny that. Yes, there are positive things they can say about having or owning some device like a washer and dryer, especially if you never had one. But that still has nothing to do with being satisfied, content and happy or fulfilled in life. Even worse is that which we don’t need and won’t make a big difference in our lives, like a new car. Such happiness is short lived.
If your value in life is dependant on a title, how much money you have in the bank, what you are, where you live, what you possess, what you drive – they will never bring you contentment. That is why covetousness is so deceptive and a farce. It only leads to constant misery and dissatisfaction. The proof of this can be seen in the lives of those who have everything this world has to offer and tells us to go after. Many who are wealthy, famous and that have all these outward trappings are unhappy, miserable and empty inside. Some commit suicide, like Elvis Presley.
Covetousness is a spirit. If you have it, then no matter what you have, you will never be content and satisfied and happy. You will always want something else that you don’t have. And if you could get to where there was nothing more for you to gain, your life will seem empty and meaningless, like Alexander the Great, when he had no more countries to conquer.
2 Corinthians 10:12 “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” Walking around with a measuring tape and comparing yourself to others, who you are, what you have to others, what you have accomplished, what you possess leads nowhere. Whatever you are comparing, whether your intelligence, your outward looks, your possessions, you position in life, your education, whatever; it will always leave you empty and dissatisfied. There will always be someone else smarter, more beautiful, more successful, richer, whatever it is and you will always come up short.
Another thing about the deceptiveness of covetousness is that it has very little to do with what you have. It actually has nothing to do with what you have or what you have done or any of the things we have mentioned. There are people who barely have enough to exist, little food, little clothes and yet they are happy and satisfied with life and rejoice in the Lord and are thankful for what they do have, while on the other hand men who are billionaires are unhappy and miserable and unthankful for their situation in life and what they have.
Those who are single take note. If you are unhappy as a single person, if you are not satisfied as a single person, if you think being married will complete and fulfill you in and of itself (the state of being married), you are mistaken. If you are not satisfied with who you are and content in who you are and what you have, no matter what the changes, those changes in your circumstances are not your ticket to happiness or joy or contentment. Many, who can’t wait to be married, quickly wish they were not. Today, it is “oh, if only I was married.” Tomorrow it is, “oh, if only I were single.”
Consider coveting versus loving another. True love is content and happy and therefore gives of self to others, considering others above yourself, causing you to lay down your life for others. That is real New Testament Christianity that comes from knowing and having the love of God. But the one who is motivated by or driven by covetousness can’t freely give of self to and for others, but constantly grasps after that which they do not have. In Luke 17:33 Jesus said, “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Philippians 2:4 “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Love gives, it doesn’t grasp. Covetousness grasps at what it doesn’t have and so it can’t give of itself freely.
Secondly, Contentment is Delightful: Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Phillips paraphrased this verse this way, “I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to life when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of facing either plenty or poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives within me.” That is divine contentment. It, as divine discontentment, that which God puts in us, to cause us to turn to Him, to do something about our relationship with Him, are both positive and good. It is the fleshly, worldly discontentment that is destructive and that leads to emptiness in life.
Roadblocks: Everyone in life at some time runs into what we would call a roadblock in life. It could be a health roadblock, a relationship roadblock, a financial roadblock, whatever it is and we all have different one at different times and it is big for you when you are facing one of these.
There are two ways you can react to roadblocks. The reaction of the one who has been enrolled into the spiritual school of contentment like the Apostle Paul (something which I can’t say I have come to in my life), will see this roadblock as an opportunity for a double blessing. He will see it as an opportunity to trust God afresh and practice trusting Him and to see God use this roadblock in life for their good and His glory, believing that God is able to even take their mistakes in life and turn them into miracles. The second blessing will be that he will see the roadblock as an opportunity for God to once again show His faithfulness and to show that He and He alone can fill the emptiness and void within their soul. He knows the reality of the song that says, “Only Jesus can satisfy your soul. Only He can cleanse your heart and make you whole. He’ll give you peace you never knew, sweet love and joy and heaven too. Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.” That is because God put within every man a need for Him, a need for something beyond himself, for fellowship with His creator. All who reject this and reject His love and fellowship have hollow, empty, unsatisfied, discontented and unfulfilled lives, never at rest, never at peace, never happy. There is no peace within, true deep peace, without knowing the Prince of Peace, who bring peace into our souls. Jesus said it best in Matthew 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Why be content in any situation in life or with what you have? Because of His promise, that He is and will be faithful to you and that He will never leave you nor forsake you. When Jesus is within and filling our hearts, then we can rest in His love, there is a divine rest and peace because there is hope.
To be one of those who have not enrolled into the school of contentment, to learn it’s ways and blessing, is to be going around and around in a circle, getting dizzy going nowhere. The children of Israel refused to learn this lesson, refused to be content and thankful, refused to trust in God’s faithfulness and provision and so they went around and around in a circle for 40 years, looking at the same stinking desert for 40 years until they died, never entering into His rest and provision for them.
Admonishing us about the failure of the Israelites who died in the wilderness, Paul tells us, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (of those Israelites).” Verse 6 told us, “Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief.” To believe God is to trust Him and rest in His promise, which bring peace and contentment they never found.
Those who have not entered the school of contentment are like the guy who was complaining to his boss when he didn’t get a promotion. He said, “I have 25 years experience” to which his boss replied, “No you don’t, you have 1 year experience, repeated 25 times.”
Don’t waste your pain, your suffering, your troubles and trials of life, but allow them to do their work in you, that you learn from them and grow from them. James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
We can understand from Paul’s writings that he was not contented and patient in the natural, in his own character by nature. It is through the painful and crushing experiences in his life he learned the blessing and benefits of contentment and that contentment delights itself in trusting God and His faithfulness.
Philippians 3:7-8 “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” He is again saying, I’ve learned this lesson of contentment. Now I have my eyes fixed on the prize, I know the things of this life are rubbish. Success and seeking success will leave you empty.
I am not saying you should not try to be successful in life. God wants you to be successful in whatever you set your hands to do. He wants you to do whatever you do with all your might and as unto Him. But, if success is your aim in life, your purpose and goal in life, then with a certainty, know that when you get to where you think you want to go, you will not be happy or contented or satisfied.
For you and I to experience contentment when all is going well is one thing, but to experience contentment when the going is tough, when the waters are not calm but raging and the wind is blowing about us, is a totally different experience. Today we can begin the move from covetousness to contentment if we will be hones with ourselves before God.
We in America have had more materially and have had more wealth than all the rest of the world and yet it has not made us contented, but only more covetous. We want to hold onto it and not share and give to others who need. Covetousness makes us stingy and unwilling to give to others. The best givers are those who have little, who are not covetous. The covetous are not generous and don’t have a spirit to give. Yet, God so loved... that He gave His only son. Our society and culture works to make us discontent because it is based on economics and selling products. Discontent can drive you to God or away from God, depending on your reaction.
Psalm 73: Have you cried, why are the wicked prospering and the godly suffering. If the wicked are wealthy, seemingly free from pain and with no problems, then it seems I have wasted my godliness. Then he begins to see things from God’s perspective, rather than from his own eyes. And when he sees the eternal agony, torment and suffering of the wicked, those whose lives he had coveted would go through for eternity; he repents and says, “I was like a donkey” in my state of covetousness. The donkey only thinks for the moment at hand. When you go from worldly thinking to godly thinking, from covetousness to contentment, God can and will bless you. Contentment allows you to delight in God and make you a delight to God.
The greatest thing, the greatest gift, is God’s gift of eternal life. All your efforts of good works to please God will avail nothing. You can’t attain His peace, forgiveness and rest by works, but by faith and acceptance of the finished works of Calvary.
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