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The Danger of Discontent

Human nature never changes. Two thousand years ago the inspired writer of Hebrews sensed the need to give his brothers and sisters in Christ the following admonition — "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 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" (13:4-5). These first century Christians lived in a culture that did not honor and value God's will about marriage. The passage reminds us some people are "fornicators and adulterers" (sexually immoral) and that God will surely judge those who live that way, even if most people won't. But it's the next verse I really want to notice — the one that says, "Be content with such things as you have" (vs 5a). Contentment is a difficult plant to cultivate and grow in the garden of the soul. Most of us could use a lot more of it! A story about a Mennonite man relates that he offered two acres of beautiful countryside property to anyone who considered himself contented. When a man came to claim the lot, he was asked by the Mennonite, "If you are contented, why do you want my lot?" It's a good question, isn't it? What do we want, and why do we want it? Joe R. Barnett once observed, "Most of us have been dogged by the demon of discontent. With apologies to Paul, 'We have learned, in whatever state we are, therewith to be discontent.' " The danger with discontent is that we buy into the world's lie that if we could just get everything we want we would be content. Adam and Eve proved that, as we say in the south, "that just ain't so." But that doesn't prevent us from seeking life, liberty, and the purchase of happiness. Three thousand years ago a very rich King Solomon said, "Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, Than great treasure with trouble ... Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife" Proverbs 15:16; 17:1). How many people pile up huge amounts of physical treasure, live in houses filled with feasting and tons of fabulous stuff money can buy — but have little or no contentment (which money cannot buy? Decades ago a very young Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones famously sang, "I can't get no satisfaction. And I tried, and I tried, and I tried, and I tried, but I can't get no satisfaction." Wonder where he looked?

There is danger in staying in a state of constant discontentment. It may lead to foolish and harmful desires and choices which damage us and others around us (read 1 Timothy 6:7-11). We began this article with a verse that talked about marriage followed by a verse that encourages us to be content (Hebrews 13:4-5). Surely the sequence of those two verses is not coincidental. Many husbands and wives are discontented with their mates. That discontentment can lead to marital disaster, and has for many. Think about the following. A married couple, both 60 years old, were celebrating their 35th anniversary. During their party, a fairy appeared to congratulate them and grant them each one wish. The wife wanted to travel around the world. The fairy waved her wand and poof — the wife had tickets for a world cruise. The fairy then asked the husband what he wanted. He said, "I wish I had a wife 30 years younger than me." Again the fairy waved her wand and poof — the husband was instantly 90 years old." There is danger in discontent. Let us learn to be content with what — and who — we have, beginning at home. Think about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ