Discontentment

April 1, 2017

Walter Olsen

Introduction

A problem all people deal with from time to time is the problem of discontentment. We don’t like the circumstances of our life and we strongly desire something different. This was a problem for the nation of Israel in their journey through the wilderness.

First, we read, “…and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, ‘Wherefore have ye brought us out of Egypt to die in this wilderness? For there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread’” (Numb. 21:4-5). True, life was not easy nor very pleasant for them in the wilderness. Still, God was angry with them and the result was anything but pleasurable. 

By means of application, lets apply this truth to us as believers today. Do we not sometimes very quickly and easily find fault with our circumstances and complain? We may or may not express our dissatisfaction verbally, but if it is in our heart, are we not still guilty?

So, what are some things we may as believers find dissatisfaction with and thus be given to complaining about? Our lists may be different, most probably quite long, and yet, there are some common threads, such as the following:

Some are dissatisfied with their health. Health is such an important matter and must be taken seriously. No one likes to be sick or recovering from an accident or serious surgery. Serious diseases are a very real challenge. Because of our discomfort, it is easy to complain. People who have serious health issues need our love and compassion. We need to minister to them the very best we can.

However, the issue here is not just the matter of our physical suffering which we can all identify with. The issue is our attitude, our heart  response to the suffering. Are we able to take this suffering as from God? Are we able to see something of God’s hand in it? If not, can we leave the results with God and trust Him for His provision? When Jesus faced His immense prospect of suffering on our behalf, He prayed, “Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee: take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt” (Mark 14:36). 

As believers, we should do our very best to care for our health. Even so, though, we will eventually have problems. These physical bodies are not made to last forever, but one day, in God’s timing, we will have wonderful, glorified bodies! With this in mind, we can face the problems of our temporal bodies much more readily. 

The answer to this problem, though is not grit and a dogged determination to face our difficulty with courage. It is rather a submission of our heart to the Lord and looking to Him for His very special provision, whatever He determines it to be. 

Some are dissatisfied with their family. This may not be a problem for those who read this paper, and yet, it might be! Most believers love their families and thank God for them. However, some may be dissatisfied because of the character or actions of family members. Yet, God has placed us in families according to His choosing. It is easy to discredit the attitudes, actions, and character of people who embarrass us and maybe even hurt us in some ways. However, if our well- being is dependent upon the way others, even family members treat us, we will be easily discouraged. We will begin to find fault and discredit those we don’t like for one reason or another.

There is a better way, and that is to depend upon God for our response to them. That doesn’t mean we should not seek to correct the wrong doers or in various ways seek help for them, but it does mean that we should be very careful in our condemnation of them. If we seek their condemnation while we have sin in our own life, we only add to the problem, both by our actions and by leaving God out of the picture. The words of Jesus are so applicable here, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?… Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:3, 5).    

A very big problem in dealing with other people who offend us, even our family, is the problem of our own sin. Sin does not have to be just unsavory actions. It can also be ungracious attitudes and   words. When we display an ungracious spirit toward others, we are showing our dissatisfaction with others and are displaying a spirit of contention. Such is not a witness for Christ nor does it usually help to solve any problems.

Some are dissatisfied with their station or place in life. They may think they deserve better and so are given to complaining about their working conditions or their scale of pay. All of us want things to be as amenable and fair as possible. The truth is, life is not always fair! Others may seem to advance faster and enjoy more privileges. If our satisfaction, though, is based on such thinking, life will always be lived on a sub-standard level. I’m not thinking about physical realities here, but rather on spiritual reality. Jesus’s exhortation here is, “…Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth  not in the abundance of things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). Satisfaction is not in having an abundance of things, but in having the Lord Jesus as Savior and Lord of our life.

We need to hear the words of the Apostle Paul, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11). True contentment can only be found in the Person of the Lord Jesus. It is thus that Paul could write, “But 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 raiment let us therewith be content” (I Tim. 6:6-8). 

To the extent we seek contentment in things, we will always be frustrated and disappointed. We will sooner or later say, “…our soul loatheth this light bread” (Numb. 21:6). 

Some are dissatisfied with their hopes for the future. In younger days, perhaps, they had great hopes and dreams for the future, but they never materialized. Most of us can identify with this in one way or another. The problem is, if our hopes are based on our own wishes and desires, we never will see genuine satisfaction. Hopes and dreams that are not of God have the worm of decay in them even as Jonah’s gourd did. This is so hard to see sometimes, even for believers! We want to be the master of our own futures, at least our futures on this earth. We would do well to follow Solomon’s advice here, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil” (Prov. 3:5-7). As believers, we agree with this counsel, but the problem is, do we really identify with it? Do we own it for ourselves? Until we do, there will most likely be much discontentment with our hopes and dreams for the future. 

This is not a problem for only a few! It is a problem for all of us until we come to the place of really surrendering to the Lord and His will and direction for our lives. 

Some are dissatisfied with their religion. We must note, though, that there is a distinction between any man made religion and true Christianity. Even religious forms that go under the name of Christian are not necessarily Christian. Unless a religion believes the message of the Bible regarding the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the religion cannot be Christian in the Bible sense of the word. Any other kind of religion will eventually lead to not only dissatisfaction, but to despair.

The point is, only God can give to believers spiritual life. It is the spiritual life of Jesus Christ that makes Christianity come alive and give true contentment to those who believe. Yes, people may become dissatisfied with a given church, but not with the Lord Jesus Himself. The words of Jesus are so important, “ Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). 

Let’s consider for a bit some of the results of discontentment. Again, there are many more than we can list here, but some of the more obvious ones would include the following:

There will very likely be a grumbling, complaining spirit. The Israelites were guilty of this in so many ways. They grumbled about a lack of food, water, and the usual comforts of life. Of course, so do many of us complain about the things we think we lack in life. The problem is, our focus of life is so often wrong. We are no longer just people trying to make a living and to enjoy the good things of life. We are now, as believers, pilgrims making our way to the heavenly city of New Jerusalem. On the way, we have a mission, and that is to live for the Lord and honor Him in all we are and in all we do. 

It is good to be reminded often of Paul’s admonition, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2). Further, Paul says, “…we look not at the things which are seen, but at things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:18).

There will be a lack of witness to the reality of Jesus Christ in one’s life. Yes, we may claim Jesus as our Savior, attend church regularly, and even serve in Christian ministry in some capacity. However, that is not necessarily the same as witnessing to the reality of Christ in one’s life! The reality of Jesus is seen in our words, attitudes, affections, and actions. What we say and do is a revelation of Him! As Paul said, “Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place” (II Cor. 2:14). The idea is that, in all we are and do, we reveal something of the reality of Jesus Christ. In all things we bring glory to Him. 

Sadly, this is not much understood or appreciated today. We are too satisfied with the veneer of Christianity and not with  the inner reality. 

There will be a lack of the genuine joy of Christ and all that pertains to Him. The Christian life is not always easy by any means, but as we walk with Him there is still the reality of His abiding joy. Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (Jn. 15:11). This is more than a verse to memorize, but an experience to revel in. If we know little or nothing of the joy of the Lord, certainly there is something amiss in our relationship with Jesus. Where Jesus abides unhindered in a life, there is a joy regardless of the circumstances we must endure. Perhaps this is why King David prayed as he did after his sin with Bathsheba, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation…” (Psa. 51:12).

 I know this may sound a bit too unreal for some because of the extreme burdens we are sometimes called to bear, but still, God being who He is, it must be true! We must remember too, though, that pain and grief can sometimes dim even spiritual realities. It doesn’t diminish them , but it may cause them to be unrealized for a time.

There will be a lack of the peace of God. While we may have a general sense of the peace of God because we know our sins are forgiven, there may be a lack of peace within ourselves because we know our lives are not right with God. If we are believers, but are not maintaining a personal relationship with God, there will be the disturbing sense of personal conviction regarding the sins we are accommodating.  Every believer needs to practice the following, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9). Because of God’s abundant mercy and grace, we can have the peace of God restored to us even after we have failed miserably!

There will often be a rush to make unwise decisions. Because of discontent with our circumstances, we may rush to  make decisions we think will improve our situation in life. However, if our decisions are made in haste and without the counsel of God’s word, and perhaps the help of spiritual believers, our circumstances may actually deteriorate. Sometimes people make a string of bad decisions! Let’s be reminded, “Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war” (Prov. 20:18).

Conclusion

The matter of contentment is such an important matter. It is important for us personally, for our family, for our church, and for any others we may be privileged to have contact with. Should you find yourself being discontent, a couple of things are of the essence. First, thank God for what you do have. We are exhorted to be thankful in all circumstances of life. Secondly, make sure you have a living, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Without such a relationship, you will be looking for contentment in all the wrong places. Make much of your personal study of the Bible, and sit under Spirit filled preaching of the word of God. If these things are neglected, it is easy for any one of us to stray. Sometimes we wander off and don’t even realize it for a long time. Don’t accept any substitutes for the above. There aren’t any, though sometimes we are so willing to accept whatever may look good to us. 

Indeed, some changes may need to be made, but be sure they are in accordance with the word of God and with wise spiritual counsel. Don’t be a law unto yourself. Everybody needs others to bring both correction and edification. Remember Paul’s counsel to the Romans. His said to them, “..that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me” (Rom. 1:12).

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Special ministry this month has included preaching at The Eau Claire Gospel Center in Eau Claire on March 5th and the Faith Baptist Church of Baldwin on March 26th.  

The month of March has been Missions Month at our church, First Baptist of Woodville. It was a great conference with people and messages that spoke to people’s hearts. It concluded on Sunday evening, March 26th, with an all church banquet. Ron Gotzman from Central Seminary in Minneapolis was our guest speaker. It is such a privilege to live in a free country where we gather without fear. We need to continue to use this freedom to its full extent.

Spring has arrived, at least on the calendar. It has been good to see the spring birds back. We have many robbins in the area.

Lord willing, I will be teaching the adult Sunday school class in our church for the next few weeks. We will be covering such subjects as “When you are Facing a Crisis,” “When You Have Been Offended,” “The New Age Movement,” “If one is a Christian, What is the Evidence,” “The Well Springs of Wisdom,” an in-depth study of Proverbs seventeen, and anything else as the Lord directs. I am convinced that there is some real help for the problems we face in life as we seek the truth of God’s word and we are rightly related to the Author of the Book. I have written papers on all of these subjects (and many more). If anyone would like a copy of the various subjects, just let me know. We need to be students of the Bible! The world does not have the answers we need to face the challenges of life. Keep in mind, though, our emphases is not primarily on problem solving, but on the proclamation of the word of God.

If you would like to add anyone to our mailing list, just let me know. There is no charge. We send both by regular mail and email. If we love our relatives and friends, we will want to get the truth of God’s word to them. The consequences of decisions made are beyond compare. Certainly we desire to get the good news to as many as possible. 

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30).

“Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad” (Prov. 12:25).