America is a country that is wealthier, as a whole, than many other countries. We don’t need to worry about clean water or indoor plumbing. We are a nation obsessed with “keeping up with the Joneses”. We can be easily swayed into wanting more: more money, more health, more friends, more kids, more free time, etc. I think that the analogy of the glass of water is appropriate for viewing all of life. When you look at that glass is it half full or half empty? Are you constantly aware that it is half empty and always striving to get more? Or are you thankful the cup is half full and not empty, like it could be?
Envy is like the evil twin to contentment. Envy has us in a constant state of agitation and striving. We are jealous of what others have and fail to take notice of all that we do have. We hear frequently of our children being labeled the “entitlement generation.” A kid growing up today feels like the world owes them something. Contentment starts with us learning the truth that we are owed nothing.
Contentment must start in knowing the truth about what we do deserve. Scripture makes clear that we are all sinners, who have sinned against a perfect, holy God, and that sin’s wages are death (Romans 3:23 and 6:23). If we are “owed” anything it is punishment for our transgressions. We deserve an eternity in hell. Only when we first know what we deserve, can we begin to understand what we have been given. If we have repented of our sins and we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, then we are clothed in His righteousness and saved by grace. Applying this knowledge about God to our current circumstances is the key to contentment.
When we remember what we have been saved from, we are able to keep our trials in perspective. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) Knowing of God’s grace is what truly matters. We must be thankful with the knowledge that our situations, troubles and trials are temporary here, and that our eternal salvation has been secured through Christ. We cannot be jealous when others seem to have an easier path than we do.
May we learn to say what the Apostle Paul did in Philippians 4:12-13, “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.” It is my prayer that I suffer well, and in doing so, display God’s glory to a lost world, for it is Him who strengthens me each day.
One last thought for today. We have a Precious Moments figurine with a little boy mowing his lawn. He has stopped and gone over to peer over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. The caption reads: The grass might be greener, but it still needs to be mowed.” When you are struggling and tempted to be envious, look to God and to all the many blessings He has given to you. All that we have comes from the gracious hand of God. We deserve hell. We get grace. How can we be anything BUT content?