We must guard against being ungrateful for what God has given us.
If you take a casual stroll around any bookstore, it will confirm the world’s message that the only way to contentment is to have more and be more. You need a better body, a nicer sports car, and a better-looking spouse. You need to be more charming, more intelligent, and more influential.
This “have-more, be-more” message is one that can lead to discontentment. In Hebrews 13:5, the Bible says, “. . . be content with what you have because God has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
Part of the definition of the word “content” in the New Testament Greek means “to ward off” and is related to another word meaning “to raise a barrier.” This is interesting because I once thought that contentment was only attained by being happy with what I have. However, these definitions remind me that being content has as much do with keeping things out as it does with appreciating what I already possess.
I once went with a good friend to stroll through a series of large, luxurious homes. My eyes drank in the beauty of the décor at each address. I admired the ornate furnishings, kitchens, and backyard landscapes. Afterward, I felt empty and discontent because I was disappointed that I didn’t have more.
Just like the Bible says, we must guard against being ungrateful for what God has given. He blesses one with a large home, while another has something more modest. He gives one a position of leadership, while another works behind the scenes. He gives to each according to His will.
We have to “raise barriers” against unrealistic “have more, be more” messages that tell us that we aren’t important unless we have a lot of money, aren’t successful unless we a high-profile job, or aren’t significant unless we are beautiful. Expectations can blind us to more important blessings that we are already holding in our hands—like love, friendships, faith, and especially eternal life.
Ecclesiastes 4:6 says that it’s better to have “one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and a chasing after the wind.” The person who has learned to be content with what they have, knowing that God is the Giver of all good things, is the person who is blessed indeed. This is the one who can—with joy—join David in saying, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Psalm 16:6).