“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” — 1 Timothy 6:6
What does it take to be successful and happy? The world wants us to believe that it’s in getting and gaining more things, status, money or experiences. This is how success is defined for us by society: You’re a man or woman who can’t get enough in life. You work hard, strive and do all you can to reach heights that have never been reached before. But instead of becoming happier, this attitude just makes you more miserable.
Behind all this is the dangerous core of discontentment that causes us to strive for the wrong reasons. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with desiring for greater things, but discontentment and desire are two different things.
Discontentment comes not because we don’t have enough, but because we focus on having more of the things that we think would satisfy us. Matthew 6:19-20 tells us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
If we want to break the cycle of discontentment, we must seek the right things and turn against these four things that deprive us of our contentment.
You browse through your social media newsfeed and you see a friend enjoying a vacation. What’s the first thought you have? If it’s “I wish I were also on a vacation now,” then chances are comparison is causing discontentment. Unhealthy comparison causes covetousness, which will ultimately lead to an unhealthy level of discontentment.
2. Sense of entitlement
Sense of entitlement causes us to think, “I deserve this.” When we start thinking that we deserve more than we already have, let’s remember what the Bible says about what we deserve. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” All we have is simply a result of God’s grace. We deserve nothing, but God gave us everything.
Greed causes us to want more and more of the wrong things at the expense of the things that matter more. It causes us to want more earthly wealth at the expense of spiritual fruit, or more things at the expense of relationship with God and others. The irony behind greed is that it is never satisfied. The best way to battle greed is gratitude—being thankful for the things we have now before desiring more.
4. Fear of missing out
The fear of missing out is a growing epidemic. More and more people are thinking that if they don’t have what others have they will miss out on life. To battle the fear of missing out, we are to trust in Christ to be our ultimate source of true life. As Jesus once said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus promises an incomparably abundant life. This causes us to trust Him and stop being afraid that we will miss out because no one who is in Christ will ever miss out on life.