Achieving ‘Contentment’

29 August 22

Is there a ‘secret’ for becoming ‘content’ in today’s world? If there is, what does one have to ‘do’ to achieve it, and is it ‘available’ for everyone?

INTRODUCTION
Throughout life, there are numerous experiences we will engage in, some of which will be uplifting and positive, and some that will be challenging and negative. The one ‘guarantee’ of life is that there will be ups and downs, triumphs and defeats. Sometimes, however, things will go very well for us for a time and, at other times, life can seem like a real struggle. Through it all, there is one principle that we can live by that will help us navigate both the good times and the bad, and it is that of contentment.

Contentment is a state of being where one is satisfied with their current situation and the state of affairs in one’s life as they presently are. If one is content, they are pleased with their situation and how the ‘elements’ in one’s life are situated.

This might sound like things have to be going well in one’s life to be content and that to be content one must have the areas in their life going as they had previously planned and that elements in their life are all perfect, with no errors or difficulties.

However, this thinking is ‘flawed’. In fact, it is possible to be content with one’s life regardless of the circumstance, regardless of whether things are going as one expected or not. Furthermore, it may be even more important to find contentment in life when things are NOT going well or according to your ‘plan’.

[ VIDEO: “Dave Ramsey Show – Contentment and Gratitude” ]

Contentment means to be happy with ‘what’ you have, ‘who’ you are, and ‘where’ you are in life. Contentment does not mean the absence of desire, it just means you are satisfied with your present circumstances, and you trust that the ‘turns’ your life takes in the future will be for the best.

It is almost impossible to stress enough how important it is to be content. Some benefits of contentment include:

– Peace of mind
– Well being
– Joy/Happiness
– Stronger relationships
– Distinguishing between wants and needs
– Relieving yourself from stress
– Gratitude
– Humbleness

As with many things in life, finding a ‘balance’ is critical. This balance of contentment and striving to better one’s self and one’s situation can be difficult to achieve. However, it is important to find a peace and satisfaction with one’s life circumstances.

In difficult times, it can be helpful to realize the positive things that come from struggling and that the difficult times do not last forever. However, while being content within difficult times, it is important that one does not become complacent and settle. Instead, one should attempt to better one’s situation while appreciating the struggle and learn from it. Similarly, when things are going well one should be content, appreciative, and grateful but not complacent. Having this appreciation and satisfaction while still striving to be better is an appropriate, but difficult balance that we can aim for in our lives.

There is also often a ‘fine line’ between ambition and greed. People may think that when they have achieved all they need for their ‘dream’ lifestyle, they will be satisfied with what they have. However, this is ‘rarely’ the case. Even after you have ticked off all the achievements from your “Bucket List,” you still don’t feel satisfied. There remains a ‘disappointed’ feeling that ‘something’ is still missing. 

Well, that ‘missing’ thing is ‘CONTENTMENT!


<<< SUMMARY >>>

The following is a collection of ‘snippets’ from the post that aims to give you the overall ‘jest’ of this post.
[ 10-15 Minute Read ].


‘WHAT’ CAUSES DISCONTENTMENT?
So, if one’s ‘goal’ is to be content, one will have to find out how to solve one’s discontentment—so let’s start there.

Discontentment has many causes. A few ‘major’ ones are discouragement, dissatisfaction, negativity, disappointment, and materialism—which all increase one’s discontentment.

DISCOURAGEMENT
The verb to discourage means “to deprive of confidence, hope or spirit; dishearten, daunt.” Afflict, beat down, demoralize, depress, dismay, distress, frighten, intimidate, irk, and trouble are synonyms of the word “discourage.”

Discouragement involves a lack of confidence or a feeling of sadness that is the result of either a real or perceived event in life. Two of the main underlying causes that contribute to discouragement include a lack of confidence in oneself and a lack of hope for the future.

Discouragement can reinforce negative thinking because it, in itself, is a feeling or emotional state. One who is discouraged must learn how to control their mind and thus, learn how to control their discouragement. Discouraged people usually blame themselves for their disheartened feelings.
[ more… ]

DISSATISFACTION
Dissatisfaction causes one to seek something better, but usually in a ‘bad’ way, as the saying goes: “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

When we are infants, we are pretty much all set. We eat, sleep, and poop—we are all good! The trouble starts when we begin to get a sense of ourselves, and we fall into the trap of what the ‘wisdom’ teachings might refer to as our narcissistic delusion, which is something that we are more likely to call “It is all about me.” Just as soon as we cross the boundary from survival needs to social needs, we are inevitably doomed to foster a sense of our own perpetual dissatisfaction; a conflict that is at the core of the human condition.
[ more… ]

NEGATIVITY
When you feel discontent, it ‘colors’ so much of your world—you easily find more discouraging things that are not working out. (This is your brain’s “negativity bias” at work, which makes you more sensitive to anything negative when you are feeling down.) Without realizing it, you start ‘piling on’ feelings from your past when you felt discouraged, which then adds to the ‘storm’ (just when you need the opposite).

Sometimes when people lose hope they get pulled down into a ‘negativity spiral’—“See, this isn’t going to work out so it is a sign that other things won’t work out. And there’s obviously nothing I can do to make it work out. Maybe I’m just not good enough.”

This negativity spiral can be very tough to get out of. [ The next section on disappointment will help with this. ]

DISAPPOINTMENT
If there is one predictable thing in this life, it is that you will be disappointed somehow. It can start young—your parents don’t parent well, your teachers are bullies in school, your friends turn on you for no reason—or it can happen later in life; someone you care about betrays you, you lose a job you love, or you are let go after many loyal years. As Alexander Pope famously said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing for he shall never be disappointed.”

Disappointment is feeling unhappy because someone or something was not as good as you hoped or expected. When we feel unhappy because our hopes and expectations are unfulfilled, we experience a feeling of sadness or disappointment.

But how does this relate to our emotions in general?

You may already know about the six basic human emotions: joy, anger, sadness, fear, surprise, and disgust.

In the 1980s, Robert Plutchik presented his “Wheel of Emotions’’ theory. This added two more emotions, making eight essential emotions in pairs of opposites.

– Joy >>>>> Sadness
– Trust >>>> Distrust
– Fear >>>>> Anger
– Surprise >>>>> Anticipation
[ Chart ]

———

The actions you take after you experience major disappointment can completely transform the eventual outcome and help you make better decisions.

Disappointment is less useful as an emotion and far more useful as a data point. Like failure, experiencing disappointment tells us that something was “off.” Be it the circumstances, the process, or our expectations.

In other words, it is time to look for a different way. And the best place to do that is the place that author and continuous improvement trainer James Clear calls “The Valley of Disappointment.” If you persist with your actions in this valley, you can reach a breakthrough.

Here’s how it works:

– We set a goal or outcome we desire.
– We overestimate the good things that might happen when we first start a task leading to the realization of this goal.
– Simultaneously, we underestimate the “negative” things that might also happen.
– This is why the first part of any goal attainment can feel so treacherous — you are living in the valley of disappointment.
– But if we keep our expectations steady through time, the same things that disappointed us end up leading to a breakthrough.
[ Chart ]

[ more… ]

MATERIALISM
I’m sure you have flipped open a magazine in the doctor’s office while waiting for your appointment. Then, within just a few minutes—and looking at just a few pages—you were filled with inadequacy and discontentment. You now ‘NEEDED’ _______________ (fill in the blank).

It is just amazing that just a few minutes previous you were feeling quite content and satisfied. Now, if you had been standing in a store with these items in front of you, you just might be pulling out your wallet/purse for your ‘credit card’ to pay for the item(s).

Simply perusing a magazine can give one a touch of “affluenza” (affluence + influenza), which is an extreme form of materialism that causes us to overwork and accumulate high levels of debt in order to purchase more goods to cure our ‘disease’.

Harvard University economist John Kenneth Galbraith—author of “The Affluent Society”—said that “Materialism has gone mad.” This is one of the ‘primary’ things that breed discontentment. Through advertising, we are conditioned to buy things that we really don’t want or need—we just get the ‘feeling’ that we need them. (‘True’ needs are never discovered while wandering the aisles of a store or clicking through pages on Pinterest.)

Wants do not satisfy hunger and present circumstances are always temporary. Comparison and complaining are probable the ‘major’ reasons for discontent, and will be discussed, at length, below.

‘COMPARISONS’
You are up early one morning searching for jobs on LinkedIn when a new notification pops up. Your best friend from college just got promoted to Vice President at the same company where he has spent the last ten years. Meanwhile, you have just been laid off from your most recent position—the fourth job you have held in that same timeframe. Even though you both graduated in the same year with the same degree—and you had a better GPA—instantly you feel resentful. You ask yourself, “Why not me?”

Now, don’t feel bad if you thought of that question, since this reaction is not uncommon. According to a recent study, more than 75% of people reported feeling envious of someone in the past year. However, comparing yourself to others can leave you feeling frustrated and anxious. The thing is, comparisons don’t help in creating the life you want, and instead, like in the previous example, just takes away valuable time and energy that could have been spent on building a more successful career.

SOCIAL COMPARISON
We ALL have a fundamental need to evaluate ourselves, and the only way to do that is ‘in reference’ to something else.

This peculiar ‘drive’ was first explored seriously by the American social psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954. His “Theory of Social Comparison” says we fix our own personal and social worth based on how we place ourselves ‘against’ others.

He believed that, “The desire to compare is a biological urge in us that is as strong as thirst and hunger.” He suggested that we do so because humans have an innate drive to compare to gain greater self-knowledge. Once we have gauged our qualities and abilities against others, we can find out how well we are doing in life—our ‘worth’ in society.
[ more… ]

OBSESSIVE COMPARING
Where comparison to others goes REALLY ‘wrong’, however, is when people are ‘addicted’ to comparison and to feeling like a loser or a victim. They literally spend hours of their time each week on Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media platforms looking at what other people have created and achieved, and they feel ‘sick’ and depressed afterwards.

This type of comparison leads people to invest in negative, destructive beliefs such as:
[ more… ]

COVETING
Probably the most harmful version of comparison used to be called “coveting.” We get ‘frustrated’ when someone gets the promotion over us, has a nicer car, or has a skill or talent that we wish we had at our own disposal. (Like that LinkedIn guy.)

Strong feelings that we deserve more can lead us to fear that we will never be good enough, or that we simply deserve what the other person has in their possession. This fear often leads to great discontentment, which if left to itself, can lead to ‘BITTERNESS’.

Bitterness is a ‘dangerous’ emotion. It causes us to begin having immense pity parties and can rob the heart of its passion. Often, this bitterness causes us to find faults with this person where we explain WHY they simply don’t deserve whatever it is that they have.

When bitterness takes root, anger wells up. Many who fall into this ‘trap’ will long to see something ‘bad’ happen to another person. When we live out of fear and insecurities, all of life seems hopeless and joyless. Our thoughts start to gravitate to an idea that we are never good enough so we might as well give up.

[ Bitterness was what that family member—I’ve been talking about in the past two posts—was overcome by. ]

With bitterness as the core of their existence, there will be NO happiness and life seems like a waste. They get ‘bogged down’ and live out this paradox for a lifetime while it eats away at their very souls. Passion dies slowly and they die muttering, “What if…”

‘REASONS’ TO STOP COMPARING
Did you know that by comparing yourself to others, you could be ‘killing’ your happiness? So, what should you do when you feel the urge to compare yourself to others?:
[ more… ]

HELPFUL ‘METHODS’
Here are some things you can do to ‘unhook’ yourself from doing comparisons:
[ more… ]

‘COMPLAINING’
Complaining is an expression of dissatisfaction of discontent, and it seems that complaining is an American ‘pastime’ for most people. However, some give reasons why they, in their opinion, think it provides ‘POSITIVE’ aspects:
[ more… ]

THINGS TO ‘DO’ ABOUT IT
Now, there are two things you can do when you feel the need to complain. One is to cultivate an attitude of ‘gratitude’. That is, when you feel like complaining, shift your attention to something that you are grateful for. Taking time to contemplate what you are grateful for isn’t merely the right thing to do, it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23 percent.

Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude improved their mood, energy, and experienced substantially less anxiety due to lower cortisol levels. So, any time you experience negative or pessimistic thoughts, use this as a cue to ‘shift gears’ and to think about something positive. In time, a positive attitude will become a way of life.
[ more… ]

CONCRETE ‘STEPS’ TO TAKE
So, here are some ‘steps’ that can help you the next time you feel discouraged, stuck, and want to foster a positive frame of mind: Acceptance; Gratitude; Intentional Kindness; The Bigger ‘Why’; Self Care; Take the ‘Long View’.

ACCEPTANCE
Allow yourself to ‘feel’ what you feel, even if it is not ‘good’. Acknowledge it. Research shows that when we acknowledge our difficult feelings we get through them faster and experience them with less intensity.

Then, seeing things clearly—as they are—without ‘coloring’ them with your judgment of “how they should be” or blowing them out of proportion beyond the current situation.
[ more… ]

GRATITUDE
Count your blessings. Science shows that the best way to help yourself feel better. When you practice gratitude, your brain releases serotonin and dopamine, which make you feel good in the short run, but you also become more productive, less anxious, and develop a mindset of possibility versus scarcity.

For example, if a job opportunity you were hoping for didn’t work out, you could be grateful for meeting interesting people as you applied for it, the support of your friends and family, or something you learned in the process.

Pausing to appreciate something within a tough situation gives you the very resilience you need to get through it.
[ more… ]

INTENTIONAL KINDNESS
The BEST ‘WAY’ to make yourself feel better is to get out of your own head and do something kind for someone else. Research shows that doing kindness acts in clusters has the biggest positive impact on how you feel.

Remember: You feel 100% of the emotions you give to others. When you share kindness, you feel kindness inside. Notice these feelings as you go.

THE BIGGER ‘WHY’
Connecting to your sense of meaning is one of the best ways to get through challenging times and feeling discouraged. I call this The Bridge of Resilience.

Think about the ‘bigger’ why for whatever it is you are doing and feeling discouraged about. For example, if you are a writer and you are discouraged because you are getting a lot of rejections for your writing, what is your Bigger Why for what you are writing? Perhaps you feel that your writing helps people learn something, feel something, or discover something new.

We all derive a sense of meaning when we use our strengths to be of service and help others. So, what is YOUR Bigger Why?

SELF CARE
When we get discouraged, there is a harsh ‘voice’ in our heads that often comes out in full force. So, the first thing you need to do is to become aware of how you are talking to yourself and shift from harshness to self-compassion.

When you notice that you are berating yourself, you should pause and take a ‘breath’. Then, imagine that you are saying what you are saying to someone you love very much. Rephrase how you would say it, literally picturing that person in front of you.

Then do something that ‘nourishes’ your mind, body, or soul. This will give you fuel to keep going, to work through the discouragement.

Finally, think supportive thoughts to yourself. (Science says that a ‘pep talk’ you give yourself can be as effective as the one you hear from a friend.
[ more… ]

TAKE THE ‘LONG’ VIEW
Discouragement generally occurs when our expectations (what we think should happen) don’t align with reality (what actually happens). In many cases our expectations are unrealistic, and this often has to do with how long we think things should happen. If we take a ‘longer’ view, and relax our expectations a little, it can really help to decrease discouragement. The reality is that most things that are worthwhile take a lot of effort and time to come to fruition. So BE ‘PATIENT’!

Everyone deals with discouragement at some point in their life and it doesn’t need to be fatal or something you give into every day. It is part of what makes the human experience ‘rich’—the highs and the lows. If we didn’t experience the lows, then we wouldn’t appreciate the highs!

Discouragement, disappointment, failure, and setbacks—are all things that can help us if we maintain an ‘empowering’ mindset. The key to life is to learn from these experiences and minimize the amount of time that we allow ourselves to stay discouraged.

In fact, some of you are discouraged enough right now that you are thinking of ‘packing it in’.

That is what happens if you don’t face discouragement head-on. A discouraging day becomes a discouraging week. A week becomes a month, becomes a season, becomes you quitting—or at least never realizing your potential if you stay.

Most of the time, It is NOT worth quitting just because you feel discouraged. The thing is, it is not ‘worth’ quitting just because you feel discouraged. There ARE some things you CAN DO!

BEING DISCONTENTED WITH ‘GOD’
So, how does this discontented attitude work SPIRITUALLY? Is there anything ‘wrong’ with being discontented with God?

Well, being discontented with God is a common response when life doesn’t go our way. Since God is ‘supposedly’ in control of everything, the thinking goes, He could have ‘stepped in’ and stopped what happened. He could have changed the situation to ‘benefit’ me. He could have averted the calamity. Since He did not, He is to ‘blame’.

‘BLAMING’ GOD FOR OUR PROBLEMS
The word “blame” means “to find fault with.” Blaming goes beyond acknowledging God’s sovereignty. Blaming God implies that He ‘messed up’, that there is a fault to be found in Him. When we blame God, we make ourselves His judge and jury. HOWEVER, mere human beings have NO ‘RIGHT’ to pass judgment on God! We are His creation; He is not ours. “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’? Woe to the one who says to a father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to a mother, ‘What have you brought to birth?’” [ Isaiah 45:9-10 ].

So, before we go blaming God for our discontentment, we must examine our own lives and be honest about the choices that could have led to the ‘situation’ not going our way!
[ more… ]

‘SATAN’ WANTS YOU TO BE DISCONTENTED
The Apostle Paul says that our struggles in life are not just against the ‘world’ and our ‘flesh’, but against invisible powers that struggle against us to keep us from becoming all that God wants us to be. Maybe an illustration will help with this:
[ more… ]

FIGHT’ AGAINST DISCONTENTMENT
Discouragement is a temptation “common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Discouragement is not to be tolerated or ‘wallowed’ in. It is to be fought against!

Jesus does not want us to be discouraged. In fact, He commands us not to be: “Let not your hearts be troubled” [ John 14:1a ].

In the Greek, Jesus’ words, “let not” are not merely comforting, they are a ‘command’. He knew the disciples would be tempted to fear because things were going to look very bad—like the whole ‘mission’ was imploding—but, Jesus was saying to them, “Don’t let your hearts be ruled by what you ‘see’. Let them be ruled by what I ‘promise’ you!”
[ more… ]

COMPARISONS
Falling into the ‘comparison trap’ can begin the second you roll out of bed in the morning and pick up your phone. You log onto social media and are immediately inundated with these pictures of perfection that drag you straight into the comparison trap. You begin to feel as though your life just doesn’t measure up. But, are they really all they seem? What does the Bible say about comparison?

Well, comparison implies in some way that God ‘cheated’ you out of something someone else has. Once the Devil makes us take a glance at what someone else has he can make us question what WE have. Comparison creates contempt and it makes us despise our blessings.
[ more… ]

CIRCUMSTANCES
We often want to blame circumstances for our discontent, but that is ‘barking up the wrong tree’. Contentment is determined by what we ‘believe’—and our belief is fueled by what we are ‘seeing’.

The Apostle Paul ‘saw’ the right thing: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” [ Philippians 3:8 ].

Jesus was THE ‘treasure’ to Paul. What Paul saw in Jesus was what the man in Jesus’s parable saw in the field: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” [ Matthew 13:44 ].

Just a few minutes before the man saw the treasure, would he have been content to sell everything and buy the field? I don’t think so. HOWEVER, a few minutes AFTER he saw it he was off to the auctioneer. What was the difference? Well, he saw the ‘treasure’.
[ more… ]

COMPLAINING
Complaining is one of those sins that doesn’t get much ‘airtime’ in the church. They talk about ‘big’ sins like lust, greed, selfishness, anger, envy, adultery, and pride. By comparison, complaining seems pretty minor, and is just a ‘part’ of life. We know it is wrong, but it just doesn’t seem like a big deal.

BUT, God takes complaining VERY seriously. It is not just a little sand in his eyes. In Bible times, people died because they complained against Him (Numbers 11:33).

Complaining is like smoke. Smoke proves that there is a fire somewhere, and complaining proves that discontentment is nearby. Discontentment and complaining go hand-in-hand. If we are going to kill discontentment, we need to kill complaining. If we are going to kill complaining, we need to get our minds around why complaining is so wicked.

So, here are a few ‘evils’ related to complaining:
[ more… ]

DISOBEDIENCE
Theologian Thomas Boston’s exposition of the sin of discontentment shows how it is essentially ‘practical atheism’ which constitutes disobedience to God. This insinuates:
[ more… ]

PRIDE
Discontent is a manifestation of ‘pride’ (including rebellion and unbelief). It flows from a heart that says, “I deserve better than God has given me.” This was the ‘original’ sin of Satan himself and his angels.

The sin of pride is the sin of sins. It was this sin, we are told, which transformed Lucifer, an anointed cherub of God, the very “seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty,” into Satan, the Devil, the father of lies, the one for whom Hell itself was created. We are warned to guard our hearts against pride lest we too “fall into the same condemnation as the Devil.”

It was also the sin of pride that first led Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” [ Genesis 3:6 ]. Even though there were probably ‘thousands’ of trees that she could have eaten of, discontentment makes one want what they don’t have and pride will ‘encourage them to go get it.
[ more… ]

IDOLATRY
The world would have us believe that our discontentment is a ‘circumstances’ problem. Given the right circumstances, people will be happy all the time. However our problem is not a circumstances problem, it is ‘idolatry’. Something or someone other than God ascends to the ‘throne’ of our hearts. What was once a ‘good’ thing that we desire now becomes something that we MUST ‘HAVE’. When we place our happiness on anything other than God, we are going to be miserable. Why? Because we are made to worship God and find all our joy in Him (Psalm 19; Isaiah 6).

Idolatry is loving anything more than God. The problem is when we love a good thing too much, when we love it more than God.

Idolatry is ‘wicked’, and it is an exchange of the all-satisfying God for a person, job, or thing.

Idolatry is also very subtle. It often takes on the form of a good desire, like excelling on the job, but then spirals out of control. An idol can be a good thing that we want too much, a good thing that takes the place of the greatest thing – God.

So, you might be an ‘idolater’ if…
[ more… ]

GOD HELPS US OVERCOME
We become content by not adding to our possessions and pleasures, but by subtracting from our desires, carving them down until they equal what are lovingly heavenly father chooses to provide us. Worldly people are restless because they always desire more. Such was the case for the wealthiest man in history, John D Rockefeller, who relentlessly built an empire that controlled 90% of the oil industry in the United States. When asked,“how much is enough?” His famous reply was, quote just a little bit more.”

Contented believers have learned to carve down their desires until they match what God wants for them. Worldly ambitions for money, fame, power, and glittering possessions, drive one’s ‘heart’ inexorably toward deep discontentment.
[ more… ]

‘DEFEATING’ DISCONTENTMENT
Again, ever since after the Garden of Eden, we have never been fully satisfied with anything on earth. We always want something different or something we don’t have—especially if someone else has it!
[ more… ]

COUNT YOUR ‘BLESSINGS’!
As has been mentioned, complaining is almost always rooted in a faulty sense of rights and privileges. Each of us has a lengthy list of things that we think we deserve. Then, when life starts to ‘short circuit’—and we don’t get what we deserve—we start complaining. We imagine ourselves as the injured party who has every right to complain. We do not think we should have to endure hardship, and so we grumble about everything—even God.

The thing is, the Bible makes it VERY clear that, without Jesus’ atonement for our sins, the ONLY thing that we truly ‘deserve’ is HELL! We have all ‘rebelled’ against God telling Him we can ‘run’ our own lives, so He can stop ‘bothering’ us. We have ‘gorged’ on His blessings—like sunshine, food, water, and the like—but want nothing to do with Him ‘personally’.
[ more… ]

BEING ‘GRATEFUL’
Especially here in America, we shouldn’t be discontent at all. Even when ‘bad’ things happen to us, they usually don’t last too long and don’t usually affect one’s life long-term.

Comparatively, we must all be grateful for these things (for most people):

– Long life (On average)
– Heath (All one’s ‘parts’; Medical ‘system’)
– Food (Three meals a day; Choice)
– Water (Provided into our homes)
– Shelter (Protected from the ‘elements’; Utilities; Heated/cooled)
– Possessions (Clothes; Furniture; Car(s); ‘Toys’)

While preaching a sermon, Charles Spurgeon said, “I have heard of some good old woman in a cottage, who had nothing but a piece of bread and a little water. Lifting up her hands, she said as a blessing, ‘What, All this, and Christ, too!’” The old woman understood that in Christ she had everything and everything in addition to Christ’s pure blessing.

I’ve got to believe that everyone reading this blog post (since you have access to the Internet) has ‘FAR’ MORE than just a piece of bread and a little water. SO, let me suggest that we ALL (me included) start to count our blessings and thank the God that gave them to us!

FINDING CONTENTMENT IN ‘SUFFERING’
Affliction is the greatest test of our contentment. When our world is falling apart, trust in God’s sovereignty wavers, and a peaceful frame of mind becomes unsettled. Our faith is challenged. We learn then the depth of our contentment.

When sickness comes, when tests reveal the spot to be cancer, when we lose our job, when a child passes away, when our good name is unjustly defamed, how do we respond?

The Apostle Paul had learned the ‘secret’ of being content in any and every situation in life—and the root of his response to suffering is his recognition that affliction IS ‘inevitable’.
[ more… ]

PROVIDENCE
What does providence mean? In short, it refers to God’s work in which he upholds, governs, and sustains all things by His infinite power.

The definition from the Heidelberg Catechism says it very well (in its section on the Lord’s Day):
[ more… ]

A FEW ‘TIPS’ FOR OVERCOMING
When we understand what discouragement is, it helps us to begin to practice overcoming it. Here are some ‘tips’ that can be used to overcome discouragement.
[ more… ]

COURAGE
Some people become so discouraged that they struggle to move forward at all in their lives. The thing is, living takes ‘COURAGE’—the confidence to move ahead despite the very real risk that we might not succeed at what we try to accomplish.

Courage is “the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.” The term originates from an old French term “corage,” meaning “to take heart.” (“Coeur” is contemporary French for “heart.”)
[ more… ]

FAITH
Faith and discouragement are polar opposites. If one believes ‘fully’ and completely that God’s work of transformation has taken place in them, then there is NO reason for them to be discouraged! “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” [ Hebrews 11:6 ].

The faith described here must be deeper than just believing that God exists. One must believe that, “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” This can truly help you in your life. One must believe that if they live according to the will of God and battle against sin and their own lusts, that He can do a work of transformation within them. “But now it comes upon you, and you are weary; it touches you, and you are troubled” [ Job 4:5 ].

So, how can one break free from discouragement? Well, ‘arm’ yourself with faith. Use faith as a ‘weapon’ against discouragement, (which comes from doubt): “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” [ Ephesians 6:16 ].

If you follow your own reasoning, you will be overtaken by discouragement quite quickly. “The shield of faith” is not merely believing in God’s existence, but in God’s power which is able to perform miracles in anyone. Irrespective of personality, my past, and my nature, anyone—including me—can become totally different with God’s help. God is mighty to do miracles. Faith in this should be your ‘weapon’!

SATAN’S ‘LIES’
The ‘world’ is setting a ‘trap’ for us—no matter how much we have it doesn’t seem like enough. The thing is, material things CANNOT satisfy our deepest needs.

However, behind the ‘scenes’ it is REALLY NOT the ‘world’ but the “god of this world”—Satan—who is setting the trap for us. He is ‘baiting’ us with the thought that the God in Heaven has not yet given us what we really need to be happy in life, In fact, this was that lie that he used to entice the first woman into the first sin—a ‘foundational’ lie that led to EVERY other sin since that time. It is a lie that is built on the feeling of ‘DISCONTENTMENT’. It is the lie that says you don’t have what you really need to be happy in life.
[ more… ]

SATAN’S ‘TEMPTATIONS’
In Genesis, we are told that Eve’s heart ‘desired’ something. She was ‘tempted’ by a promise of more. She ‘lusted’ after the ‘shiny object’ that falsely promised life, satisfaction, and liberty. But, like a holiday fruitcake in beautiful packaging, the thing so much hyped and so much desired sorely disappoints. False promises only leave us wanting more, and they will NEVER ‘deliver’.

Adam and Eve faced ‘lures’ of temptation, with Satan using them to keep them from God.
[ more… ]

SATAN SAYS “IF I ‘GET’ IT, I WILL BE HAPPY”
All of us want ‘it’—that one thing that we are convinced will make us happy—and we lie in bed at night and fantasize about it.

Now, most of the time it is a really good thing that we want, and it is not wrong to want things. It is a LIE, however, to believe that getting the thing we want will ‘truly’ satisfy us.

Satan works together with the ‘world’ to deceive us—so we are not happy with God. They want us to frantically search for happiness in everything but God. So, they ‘whisper’ lies to us. They tell us that all our restlessness will be solved by a satisfying job, a new car, a new house, etc., and that happiness lives just around the corner—that our discontentment is the result of not having what we want.

HOWEVER, that simply is NOT ‘TRUE’. We will not be fully satisfied when we get what we want, because God loves us and wants us to find our satisfaction in Him, so He will not allow us to be satisfied like that.

SATAN SAYS “GOD IS ‘WITHHOLDING’ FROM ME”
The universe was thrown into chaos when men and women believed Satan’s first lie: “You will not surely die [when you eat the fruit]. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” [ Genesis 3:4-5 ].

Satan didn’t try to persuade Eve that eating the fruit was worth the consequences. Instead, he tried to assassinate God’s character. He told Eve that God was ‘holding out’ on her. In essence, he said, “If God was really good and really loved you, He would let you eat from the tree.” Satan persuaded Eve that God wasn’t treating her well. Satan ensnares us with the same lie today.
[ more… ]

SATAN SAYS “GOD ‘OWES’ ME”
You say that you have ‘given up’ a lot for God: ________________ (fill in the black with ALL those ’things’). No, you are certainly not perfect, but surely after all these years of faithful service, God ‘owes’ you something.

Well, Jesus said, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” [ Luke 17:10 ]. The thing is, God doesn’t ‘owe’ us ‘ANYTHING’! He is the Creator and we are His creation. We ‘owe’ Him ‘EVERYTHING’! If we were to obey him flawlessly for our entire lives, we would only be giving God what we owe him.

The discontented man complains because he is not getting what God ‘owes’ him. The contented man is astonished that God would bless him for doing his ‘duty’!

DON’T LET DISCONTENTMENT ‘DEFINE’ YOU
Discontentment DOES NOT have to ‘define’ you! Recognizing what causes discontentment helps us process and grow through our feelings, and at times, make the necessary changes. (A believer is defined by God’s love for us, not our feelings.)

If in the ‘natural’, things are out of our control, (which they often are) remember, things are never out of God’s control. We can’t control many situations, but we can control how we ‘PROCESS’ discontentment. “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
[ Mark 10:27 ].

Moments of doubt and discontentment help us grow closer to God and fully appreciate and embrace the life He offers. “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”
[ Romans 15:4 ].

The word of God gives life and is the perfect ‘landing space’ for whatever you are facing today. “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
[ Isaiah 40:31 ].

‘GODLY’ CONTENTMENT
Nelson Rockefeller was once asked, “How much money does it take to make a person happy?” He reportedly answered, “Just a little bit more.” This frank response gives us an insight into the human soul. We are tempted to think that we would be happy with just a little bit more—though at times we are also tempted to admit that, in reality, happiness will require a LOT MORE!

Human beings always seem to want what they cannot have. This is true with jobs, houses, cars, even talents, and sometimes even spouses. The job we have never seems good enough, and the ideal job always seems just out of reach. Our houses are never big enough or never in just the right location—but we can’t quite get the one we want. The car we have is usually older and needs work done on it, whereas a new one wouldn’t require any ‘fixing up’. We recognize many of the talents that we have—and sometimes brag about them—but we have a nagging envy of another person’s abilities. The marriage divorce rate indicates that we are also looking for something more, too.

———

All of this raises one enormous, potentially life-altering question: What is the secret to contentment?

Well, contentment is a disposition of the heart that freely enjoys being fully submitted to God’s will, whatever that may be.
[ more… ]

THE ‘RIGHT KIND’ OF DISCONTENTMENT
We hear over and over there are some things money can’t buy, such as happiness. In moments of discontent, though, we like to ‘test’ that theory.

The Apostle Paul speaks of contentment as something NOT ‘natural’, something that must be learned. Facing various circumstances ranging from abundance to need, he found he could be content in either. He learned through experience (Philippians 4:11-13).

The thing is, we CAN also learn contentment another way—by digging into our dissatisfaction. As we ‘excavate’ the root causes of our discontentment, we are better equipped to fight it.
[ more… ]

A ‘WAY’ OF LIFE
Self-esteem has become one of our culture’s most cherished values. The American education system is geared toward creating self-esteem in our children by having individual achievement and recognition of excellence are not as important as making sure that everyone ‘feels’ good about themselves. If we give ‘trophies’ to some and not to others, someone’s feelings might be hurt and affect their self-esteem—or, so the current conventional ‘wisdom’ goes.

In this context, the world says that the way to contentment is to “be yourself.” It exhorts us that we need to ‘like’ ourselves to have self-esteem.
[ more… ]

SPECIFIC ‘METHODS’
So, how does one ‘LEARN’ to be content and satisfied in God and then avoid getting ‘re-infected’ with the major ‘distraction’ to contentment—especially in America—materialism?

Well, one of the best ways to start is to study 1 Timothy 6:6-17, in which the Apostle Paul—one of the most contented people to ever live—describes seven principles that promote contentment:
[ more… ]

CONTENTMENT ‘RESISTS’ COVETING
Do you remember the 10th of the Ten Commandments? Almost all of us at one time or another, have read it, but here is a reminder:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s”
[ Exodus 20:17 ].

Covetousness is desiring something so much that you lose your contentment in God. The opposite of covetousness is contentment in God. When contentment in God decreases, covetousness for gain increases. That’s why the Apostle Paul says in that covetousness is idolatry. “Put to death what is earthly in you; fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. It’s idolatry because the contentment that the heart should be getting from God, it starts to get from something else” [ Colossians 3:5 ].
[ more… ]

THIS IS A ‘LEARNED SKILL’
We all must ‘LEARN’ the skill of divine contentment. We are all by nature discontent. We are not going to wake up one morning and suddenly be possessed by an overwhelming sense that it is all right in the world.

Getting what we want, when we want it, WILL NOT bring lasting happiness. Joyful contentment is the result of a hard-fought, blood-sweat-and-tears battle. God is eager for us to have the same joyful, peaceful, circumstance-free contentment that the Apostle Paul had, but it is something we MUST learn.
[ more… ]

WRAP-UP
Many of us will walk through a life-altering tragedy at some point in this life. But for most of us, most of the time, the deepest challenge of life is not weathering some earth-shattering, once-in-a-lifetime disaster, it is the garden-variety ‘discouragements’ of life: Not getting the job you wanted, not marrying the person you wanted, chronic health issues, stressful financial issues, and a variety of other ‘pains’.

A flash flood may drown us, but eventually so will an incessant ‘dripping’ if it is not dealt with. A sudden disaster may overwhelm us, but eventually so will the ‘drip’ of discouragement if it is allowed to collect.

So, there are two ways to do life. One is to gradually grow ‘cynical’ by allowing the discouragements of life to ‘beat you up’, or two, ‘leverage’ the discouragements of life into a ‘deeper reality’.
[ more… ]

ONLY ‘GOD’ CAN PROVIDE CONTENTMENT
If it is true that contentment and joy are only found ‘in’ Jesus—that Jesus IS the cure for discontentment—then it is crucial for us to cultivate a DEEP ‘RELATIONSHIP’ with Him. He is THE ‘SUPPLY’ of true contentment. SO, the only way to satisfy our thirsty souls is to FIND ‘SATISFACTION’ and strength in Jesus.

The prophet Habakkuk, in the Old Testament, discovered the ‘secret’ of contentment:
[ more… ]

SATISFACTION
There is a ‘fear’ that is growing in America at an exponential rate—primarily because of the Internet and Social Media. It is almost becoming an epidemic. It is called “FOMO”—the “Fear Of Missing Out.”

It is a phenomenon that was first identified by marketing strategist Dr. Dan Herman in 1996. FOMO simply refers to a worry and an apprehension that you don’t know about some special ‘happening’ in the world—and you are really ‘out-of-touch’!

People who struggle with FOMO have a nagging fear that somewhere, someplace, somebody else is having a better time, a more rewarding experience, they are enjoying life more than they are, or they have things they don’t have. This leads to the inability to be content with ‘where’ they are at a given moment, ‘who’ they are at a point in time, and ‘what’ they currently have in their possession. This is compounded by the fact that psychologists tell us that the most important thing we all want in life is TO BE ‘CONTENT’!

Today, Americans are ‘bombarded’ with marketing messages that say that either what we have, where we are, the way we look, or what we drive is INSUFFICIENT! The economy is ‘based’ on PERPETUAL DISCONTENT. Psychologists call this “Dissatisfaction Remediation.” This fancy term for one of the first words a child learns to say when they begin to learn how to speak: “More.”

———

Well, in the Bible, the Apostle Paul presents to us the ‘secret’ for contentment: be satisfied with ‘who’ you are, ‘where’ you are, ‘what’ you have.

Here is a man who had every reason to be dissatisfied and discontented: He had been unfairly treated, unlovingly rejected, and unjustly imprisoned—for crimes he had not committed. Yet, even though this dark ‘cloud’ of death was hanging over him in prison, he wrote that he was content and satisfied (in the Epistle to the Philippians).

The thing is, contentment is not a principle you practice, it is a lesson that you have to ‘learn’ and something you have to ‘practice’.

Now, some of you are probably a little bit irritated and are thinking, “You just don’t know the circumstances I’m under right now.” Well, that is probably true. BUT, the thing is, if you are a believer, you are not ‘under’ your circumstances, God is ‘over’ your circumstances!

You see, the Apostle Paul didn’t know from one day to the next what was going to happen to him. BUT, he knew God DID—and that was all that mattered! Paul didn’t know whether he would have a little or have a lot, but he knew he ‘had’ God—and that was ‘enough’!

Paul had finally figured out that if I have nothing but God, you have ‘EVERYTHING’. Conversely, if you have everything ‘without’ God, you have NOTHING! [ By the way, that is why the most dissatisfied, discontented people you will ever meet are ‘CONTROL FREAKS’. ]

Now, the thing is, contentment is realizing you DON’T have to control everything since God IS in control of everything! In addition to that, you don’t have to “keep up with the Joneses” when you are satisfied with being a ‘Smith’!

———

We might smile at that story but, the thing is, God HAS given the believer the ‘capability’ to overcome FOMO—greed, materialism, selfishness, etc.—by focusing on living ‘for’ Jesus on a daily basis. Then, you WILL be content with ‘who’ you are, ‘what’ you have, and ‘where’ you are in your life! (Matthew 6:25-26; Matthew 6:33; 1 Timothy 6:6; Luke 12:15; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Psalms 37:4)

So, let me ask you a rhetorical question (and you might want to read it twice before you answer it).

If you knew that you were living in the will of God, that God is in control of your life, and that you would always be ‘where’ you should be, be doing ‘what’ you should be doing, and have ‘what’ you should have, would you be totally satisfied?

Well, you might say, “Sure.” So, here is the GOOD ‘NEWS’. The Apostle Paul said that, God will meet ALL your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus [ Philippians 4:19 ]. That is a PRETTY GREAT promise!

So, if you are a “born again” believer and you are living in the center of God’s will—you are being obedient and faithful to Him—you have every right and every reason to expect that EVERY ‘real’ need you have in your life WILL be provided for! So, why worry and be discontent?
[ more… ]

JUST ’PILGRIMS’
Even with all the frustrations we go through, the believer must remember that they are not ‘home’ yet—Heaven. Knowing that they are just ‘passing through’ and where they are going allows them to be content in this world. Just like Christian in John Bunyan’s classic, “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” they are like ‘pilgrims’ making their way to the “Celestial City.”

In John Bunyan’s allegory “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” the main character, protagonist Christian, meets Apollyon in the Valley of Humiliation. Apollyon is the prince and god of the City of Destruction, which Christian has fled. After the two fight in the Valley, Christian conquers his foe.

———

If we ‘have’ Jesus, we have ‘ALL’ WE NEED!
[ more… ]

IS ONLY GOD ‘ENOUGH’ FOR YOU?
For me, one of the key verses when it comes to contentment is, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘never will I leave you, never will I forsake you’” [ Hebrews 13:5 ].

This prompted pastor Charles H. Spurgeon to ask:

“Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of death, will not the internal corruptions and the external snares, will not the trials from above and the temptations from beneath all seem but light afflictions when we can hide ourselves beneath the bulwark of ‘he has said’?”

[ Note: Not even one phrase in any sentence in any statement the Bible has ever made has failed (Joshua 21:45) ].
[ more… ]

CONTENTMENT RESTS IN GOD’S ‘PROVIDENCE’
God calls us to be content in whatever situation we find ourselves by His sovereign providence (Philippians 4:11). He calls us to keep our lives free from the love of money and to be content with what we have. God not only tells us to be content but also graciously gives us the reason to be content by reminding us of His promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” [ Hebrews 13:5 ]. This is the ‘foundation’ for true and lasting contentment.

True contentment is not circumstantial, it is relational. It is not based on what happens to us, rather it is based on Who has taken ‘hold’ of us—the One who dwells ‘within’ us. If our contentment is based merely on what we have, we will always desire more. But, when it is based on who we are ‘in’ Christ, we will first and foremost desire to know Him more. For if we are to find contentment in all things, we must seek contentment in the only One who can fulfill all our desires—Jesus.
[ more… ]

THE ’SHAPE’ OF OUR LIVES
So, if we are content ‘in’ Jesus, what ‘shape’ will our lives begin to take? Well, four things ought to be true of the ‘contented’ believer:
[ more… ]

‘DESIRING’ CONTENTMENT
So unusual is contentment in a fallen human being, that Puritan theologian Jeremiah Burroughs called it “a rare jewel.” Nothing exhibits Christian maturity like contentment in Jesus and nothing unmasks our immaturity like discontentment. Yet, contentment is elusive: “Never satisfied are the eyes of man” [ Proverbs 27:20b ]. Jeremiah Burroughs also said that, “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise in fatherly disposal in every condition.”

The more that one prizes contentment to be that “RARE JEWEL” of inestimable worth, the more they will pursue it, sacrifice in order to attain it, and more vigorously fight to protect it against Satan’s ‘attacks’ (Ephesians 6).

God desires for the believer to be both attracted to Christian contentment and repulsed from worldly discontentment. Contentment WILL allow you to be ‘divorced’ from your circumstances!

———

God promises to give you peace and contentment IF you TRUST Him unreservedly (Philippians 4:6-7). He also REALLY wants you to experience these ‘blessings’ in increasing measure, in this ‘troubled’ world (John 16:33). So He has given you the simple, hard ‘secret’ to implement into your life: Trust the God of the Bible. It is the ONLY way to ‘true’ contentment! The Apostle Paul emphasizes this by saying:

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
[ Philippians 4:12b-13 ].

GOD is the One that will give you the strength to overcome ANY circumstances and help you to be ‘CONTENT’ in WHATEVER situations you go through!

God said that King David was “a man after My own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), so I’m thinking that if he has something to say about all of this, I’m going to listen. David said:

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.
[ Psalm 37:4-5 ].

SO, do you have any “FOMO” feelings about being ‘contented’ in your life? Well, first off, to be ‘TOTALLY’ CONTENTED, one MUST be a ‘child’ of God—the ‘WHAT’. If you are a “born again” believer, great! HOWEVER, if you are an UNBELIEVER, DO NOT put this off any longer! DO NOT delay to make THE MOST IMPORTANT ‘DECISION’ of your life—how to have ‘ETERNAL’ LIFE!

Secondly, similar to the ‘secret’ of contentment—you must put your TRUST ‘IN’ Jesus as your Savior—the ‘WHO’—and ‘REPENT’ of your sins. Jesus IS the cure for discontentment, so it is crucial for us to cultivate a DEEP ‘RELATIONSHIP’ with Him. He is THE ‘SUPPLY’ of true contentment. SO, the only way to satisfy our thirsty souls is to FIND ‘SATISFACTION’ and strength in Jesus.

[ The following video will help you through the ‘process’: https://www.jdfarag.org/abc (“The ABC’s of Salvation” by JD Farag) ]

I have got to believe that you want to be ‘CONTENTED’ with your life—and you should! HOWEVER, I am suggesting that it is MUCH MORE ‘IMPORTANT’ for you to be ‘at peace’ with ‘WHERE’ you will spend eternity!

The Bible says our earthly lives are but a “mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Our earthly ‘sojourn’ is EXCEEDINGLY ‘BRIEF’! (normally about 70-100 years). HOWEVER, when death comes knocking on our ‘door’, the ONLY THING that will matter is one’s ‘RELATIONSHIP’ with Jesus. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36)

SO, DON’T PROCRASTINATE until it is TOO LATE! Achieve ‘ETERNAL’ CONTENTMENT now! It may only be ‘available’ for you TODAY!

<<< END OF SUMMARY >>>


<<< ALL THE DETAILS >>>

The following is a comprehensive presentation of the topic that follows the ‘headings’ laid out in the Summary.


‘WHAT’ CAUSES DISCONTENTMENT?

So, if one’s ‘goal’ is to be content, one will have to find out how to solve one’s discontentment—so let’s start there.

Discontentment has many causes. A few ‘major’ ones are discouragement, dissatisfaction, negativity, disappointment, and materialism—which all increase one’s discontentment.

DISCOURAGEMENT

The verb to discourage means “to deprive of confidence, hope or spirit; dishearten, daunt.” Afflict, beat down, demoralize, depress, dismay, distress, frighten, intimidate, irk, and trouble are synonyms of the word “discourage.”

Discouragement involves a lack of confidence or a feeling of sadness that is the result of either a real or perceived event in life. Two of the main underlying causes that contribute to discouragement include a lack of confidence in oneself and a lack of hope for the future.

Discouragement can reinforce negative thinking because it, in itself, is a feeling or emotional state. One who is discouraged must learn how to control their mind and thus, learn how to control their discouragement. Discouraged people usually blame themselves for their disheartened feelings.

Now, to try to understand this better, there are three ‘stages’ of discouragement to study: “mild,” “strong,” and “overwhelming.”

‘Mild’ discouragement can occur when a person experiences minor problems or pressures that affect his emotions. For the most part, this level of discouragement goes unnoticed by others and is not long-lasting.

‘Strong’ discouragement can occur when we face major problems or pressures. This level of discouragement affects our spirits. In our words and actions, others can easily observe both physical and emotional indications of discouragement.

‘Overwhelming’ discouragement is disabling discouragement (i.e., depression), which drains us of spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical strength. When this happens, our hearts “melt” within us, and we have no desire, energy, or ability to go on. So, what causes discouragement? Well, one of the main ‘factors’ is dissatisfaction.

DISSATISFACTION

Dissatisfaction causes one to seek something better, but usually in a ‘bad’ way, as the saying goes: “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

When we are infants, we are pretty much all set. We eat, sleep, and poop—we are all good! The trouble starts when we begin to get a sense of ourselves, and we fall into the trap of what the ‘wisdom’ teachings might refer to as our narcissistic delusion, which is something that we are more likely to call “It is all about me.” Just as soon as we cross the boundary from survival needs to social needs, we are inevitably doomed to foster a sense of our own perpetual dissatisfaction; a conflict that is at the core of the human condition.

Basically, this is a conversation about ‘stuff’. Not just material stuff, but all sorts of ‘mental’ stuff—intellectual, emotional, social, etc. When we collect some stuff, we, quite naturally, want more stuff. It is this desire for more that traps us in our own dissatisfaction, because we are always grasping for more. Quite a conundrum isn’t it, as the American Way is, after all, all about bigger, better, stronger, and faster. Right?

The problem isn’t really the stuff. It is the ‘desire’ for the stuff, and the anxiety that desire provokes when unmet, creating dissatisfaction. So, how do you get rid of your desire? Well, It is not about getting rid of desire, but ‘controlling’ that desire mindfully and with skillful means.

In the best of all possible worlds, we would operate with the maxim, “This much is enough.” Well, we don’t; instead, we fairly consistently pursue more. What if, however, we chose to work with what we had—without clinging to it—or found a way to enhance what we had without feeling the need to move on from it or leave it behind, recognizing that we are making it more complete? This perspective would demand a bit of introspection, some honesty with ourselves, and a reasonably good understanding of our own needs. It would also free us from the ‘chains’ of our self-imposed bondage.

If we consider our desire – the root of our dissatisfaction – as a sense of incompleteness, then we are compelled to look at what motivates that sense of incompleteness. Where are you dissatisfied in your life? What needs to happen in order for that sense of incompleteness to be transformed into a sense of completeness? In other words, how can you apply your desire for more in a meaningful way, rather than allow it to foster your own negativity and perpetuate your sense of dissatisfaction?

This is the takeaway: If we can ask ourselves that question honestly, and answer it just as honestly, then we have a starting point for change.

There’s a popular old song from the Rolling Stones that is titled, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” The song lists a few things that frustrate them, and the chorus reinforced his frustration. One music commentator said that he thought it meant that when one distances themselves from society’s conventions and personal relationships they gain their individuality but lose their sense of gratification:

“I can’t get no satisfaction
No satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction.”

Discouragement can lead to depression if it is not dealt with. One must learn how to deal with their lack of confidence or feelings of sadness in order to avoid depression from occurring.

Discouragement occurs when one carries all of their own fears, worries and cares until they eventually collapse under all of the weight. It can also occur as a result of out of control events, events in one’s control that were handled poorly, and failure (in the past, occurring, or the future potential for).

NEGATIVITY

When you feel discontent, it ‘colors’ so much of your world—you easily find more discouraging things that are not working out. (This is your brain’s “negativity bias” at work, which makes you more sensitive to anything negative when you are feeling down.) Without realizing it, you start ‘piling on’ feelings from your past when you felt discouraged, which then adds to the ‘storm’ (just when you need the opposite).

Sometimes when people lose hope they get pulled down into a ‘negativity spiral’—“See, this isn’t going to work out so it is a sign that other things won’t work out. And there’s obviously nothing I can do to make it work out. Maybe I’m just not good enough.”

This negativity spiral can be very tough to get out of. [ The next section on disappointment will help with this. ]

DISAPPOINTMENT

If there is one predictable thing in this life, it is that you will be disappointed somehow. It can start young—your parents don’t parent well, your teachers are bullies in school, your friends turn on you for no reason—or it can happen later in life; someone you care about betrays you, you lose a job you love, or you are let go after many loyal years. As Alexander Pope famously said, “Blessed is he who expects nothing for he shall never be disappointed.”

Disappointment is feeling unhappy because someone or something was not as good as you hoped or expected. When we feel unhappy because our hopes and expectations are unfulfilled, we experience a feeling of sadness or disappointment.

But how does this relate to our emotions in general?

You may already know about the six basic human emotions: joy, anger, sadness, fear, surprise, and disgust.

In the 1980s, Robert Plutchik presented his “Wheel of Emotions’’ theory. This added two more emotions, making eight essential emotions in pairs of opposites. 

– Joy >>>>> Sadness
– Trust >>>> Distrust
– Fear >>>>> Anger
– Surprise >>>>> Anticipation

[ Illustration created by Wenzdai ]

The wheel of emotions defines how human emotions cycle through each other and expand beyond these preliminary emotions into more refined or complex experiences.

The results are emotional states like annoyance, boredom, aggressiveness, admiration, and awe. Disappointment is one such offshoot—a complex emotion that stems from sadness. It is what we feel when our expectations for the desired outcome are dashed.

We all instantly recognize the feeling of being let down and the anger we might feel when something we thought we deserved didn’t happen, or the grief we experience when we miss out on an opportunity.

To navigate through disappointment, is it having no expectations? Well, That is pretty tough to do in today’s world. It might be expected that you will be highly successful, find the “right one” and settle down happily ever after, and be rewarded for the hard work and toil you have put into your job. Kids are taught ‘fairy tales’ that say while there will be trauma and difficulty, most people go on to live happily ever after. (Hmmm… maybe we should be changing that teaching!)

If you are ‘wired’ to expect the best and then you are let down and don’t get ‘it’, disappointment and letdown can actually trigger a physiological response in the brain and ‘spark’ depression. So, when you find it harder to get up and brush yourself off and start over, it might be because your brain is physically preventing you from doing so.

Now, the choice of just staying in disappointment is not a good one. Think about the scenario: The event has happened. You can certainly ruminate over it and replay the many, many things you should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve done differently if circumstances were different. However, the reality is that it is past. You can’t influence it. You can’t change it.

So, how can you move out of disappointment and into more peace and happiness? Well, there are some ‘GENERAL’ things you can do to relieve yourself of disappointment from a past event, and prepare yourself for any disappointments that are likely to come in the future.

First off, accept that disappointment happens to EVERYONE. It can be helpful to start by ‘normalizing’ the situation. No one gets through this life without disappointment. Some experience bigger ones than others, but everyone experiences it. Know that you are in good company and ‘accept’ your state as perfectly normal.

Instead of staying in this ‘state’ indefinitely, once you have allowed yourself to acknowledge that you are in good company, start the process of ‘reframing’.

Reframing means taking any situation and putting a more objective ‘frame’ around it. It can be helpful at this step to actually write your disappointment down, like in a journal. Record what happened but capture it like an ‘investigative’ journalist. Be clinical. Trying to separate the emotions from what happened is helpful to get some personal power back.

[ FYI: For more details about how to ‘investigate’ something, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/investigating-something-v277/ ].

Change your ‘self-talk’. Instead of talking to yourself as if this was the worst thing that could happen to you, shift your language to something more powerful—yet still true—“It happened and now I need to figure out my next steps.” Or “Disappointment happens to everyone but it doesn’t have to stop me from moving on.” Or “I’m disappointed, but who dictates that I have to wallow in it? I can do something differently right now if I choose.” Any time you hear yourself say to yourself, “It is the end of the world” or “I can’t go on” or “I’m a terrible person with bad luck”, allow these phrases to be a trigger to shift the talk to something more positive.

Then make a ‘plan’. Having a way to move forward when you have been thwarted and feel stuck is important. Don’t make grand plans – “I’m going to move to __________________ (fill in this blank) and start another life” (unless you have the will and the means to do so). Instead, start small, set a goal of something you can accomplish right now, and move confidently in the achievement of it. Experiencing some form of accomplishment can send the message to your mind and your emotions that you CAN do it!

Life is definitely going to test you and possibly even throw you more disappointment as you move away from the most recent one, so continue to hone your skills and practice these steps.

So, here is a ‘SPECIFIC’ five-step plan for transforming big disappointments into big wins:

– Let It Out
Whether it is disappointment or anger, you need to feel it and let it out. A healthy way to achieve emotional health is to confide in your friends, family, or even a therapist. You could also channel this kind of tough emotion into a creative outlet. Try writing in a journal or doing something physical like taking a long run.

The point is to regulate your emotions by feeling whatever you are feeling and allowing it to pass.

Research has shown that emotional suppression can hinder our personal growth. Without the ability to feel emotions and actively express them, you have trouble adapting to new and unfamiliar situations.

– Get Perspective
Communication with friends and family about your disappointment can bring some much-needed clarity. When you get an outside perspective other than your own, you can begin to see things for what they really are, rather than how you feel about them.

– Know Your Own ‘Heart’
Of course, you have to balance that external validation with your own inner wisdom.

The problem with emotions like disappointment is that they can completely derail our visions of ourselves. We can start to doubt our abilities and feel like an imposter. Our sense of self can become skewed when too many disappointments stack up.

That is why it is so important to know your own core values and principles before you embark on any goal. Better yet, do yourself a favor and examine your “why’s.”

Keeping these “why’s” alive will help you get up and try again while keeping your self-worth intact.

– Practice self-acceptance
Once you have checked in with yourself and your supporters, it is easier to accept where you are as the right starting point for a fresh start.

Part of practicing self-acceptance is to continually root yourself in the ‘now’. Accepting the present moment allows you to acknowledge what is real.

Like breath, disappointment comes and goes. So ‘breathe’ it out and help it ‘pass’.

– Don’t Let It ‘Fester’
The worst thing you can do is brood over negative experiences.

Again, the variable here is time. You certainly don’t have to ‘bounce back’ from disappointment before you have done all the previous steps.

The actions you take after you experience major disappointment can completely transform the eventual outcome and help you make better decisions.

Disappointment is less useful as emotion and far more useful as a data point. Like failure, experiencing disappointment tells us that something was “off.” Be it the circumstances, the process, or our expectations.

In other words, it is time to look for a different way. And the best place to do that is the place that author and continuous improvement trainer James Clear calls “The Valley of Disappointment.” If you persist with your actions in this valley, you can reach a breakthrough.

Here’s how it works:

– We set a goal or outcome we desire.
– We overestimate the good things that might happen when we first start a task leading to the realization of this goal.
– Simultaneously, we underestimate the “negative” things that might also happen.
– This is why the first part of any goal attainment can feel so treacherous — you are living in the valley of disappointment.
– But if we keep our expectations steady through time, the same things that disappointed us end up leading to a breakthrough.

[ Chart created by BetterUp ]

Now, once you have given yourself some time to come to terms with your circumstances, it is time to begin again. Otherwise, disappointment could easily sour into anxiety, negative thinking, resentment, and even depression.

Disappointment is not meant to ‘destroy’ us. If taken in stride, it can ‘strengthen’ us and make us better. In spite of its devastatingly emotional impact, we may even consider encounters with disappointment as journeys toward greater insight and wisdom. But to be able to make these journeys of self-reflection and reevaluation meaningful, we need to look beneath the surface. Only by working through painful associations will we be free from them.

In spite of whatever disappointing experiences come our way, our challenge will be to not let bitterness take root. We would do well to keep in mind that although disappointment is inevitable, being discouraged is always a choice.

MATERIALISM
I’m sure you have flipped open a magazine in the doctor’s office while waiting for your appointment. Then, within just a few minutes—and looking at just a few pages—you were filled with inadequacy and discontentment. You now ‘NEEDED’ __________________ (fill in the blank).

It is just amazing that just a few minutes previous you were feeling quite content and satisfied. Now, if you had been standing in a store with these items in front of you, you just might be pulling out your wallet/purse for your ‘credit card’ to pay for the item(s).

Simply perusing a magazine can give one a touch of “affluenza” (affluence + influenza), which is an extreme form of materialism that causes us to overwork and accumulate high levels of debt in order to purchase more goods to cure our ‘disease’.

Harvard University economist John Kenneth Galbraith—author of “The Affluent Society”—said that “Materialism has gone mad.” This is one of the ‘primary’ things that breed discontentment. Through advertising, we are conditioned to buy things that we really don’t want or need—we just get the ‘feeling’ that we need them. (‘True’ needs are never discovered while wandering the aisles of a store or clicking through pages on Pinterest.)

Wants do not satisfy hunger and present circumstances are always temporary. Comparison and complaining are probable the ‘major’ reasons for discontent, and will be discussed, at length, below.

‘COMPARISONS’
You are up early one morning searching for jobs on LinkedIn when a new notification pops up. Your best friend from college just got promoted to Vice President at the same company where he has spent the last ten years. Meanwhile, you have just been laid off from your most recent position—the fourth job you have held in that same timeframe. Even though you both graduated in the same year with the same degree—and you had a better GPA—instantly you feel resentful. You ask yourself, “Why not me?”

Now, don’t feel bad if you thought of that question, since this reaction is not uncommon. According to a recent study, more than 75% of people reported feeling envious of someone in the past year. However, comparing yourself to others can leave you feeling frustrated and anxious. The thing is, comparisons don’t help in creating the life you want, and instead, like in the previous example, just takes away valuable time and energy that could have been spent on building a more successful career.

SOCIAL COMPARISON
We ALL have a fundamental need to evaluate ourselves, and the only way to do that is ‘in reference’ to something else.

This peculiar ‘drive’ was first explored seriously by the American social psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954. His “Theory of Social Comparison” says we fix our own personal and social worth based on how we place ourselves ‘against’ others.

He believed that, “The desire to compare is a biological urge in us that is as strong as thirst and hunger.” He suggested that we do so because humans have an innate drive to compare to gain greater self-knowledge. Once we have gauged our qualities and abilities against others, we can find out how well we are doing in life—our ‘worth’ in society.

For example, imagine that a high school student has just signed up for band class to learn how to play the clarinet. She will compare her performance to other students in the class to evaluate her skills and progress.

She might initially compare her abilities to the other members of the clarinet section, particularly noting those who are better than her (as well as those who are worse). She may also compare her abilities to those of students who play other instruments as well.

Psychologist Festinger believed that we engage in this comparison process as a way of establishing a ‘benchmark’ by which we can make accurate evaluations of ourselves. He said that people evaluate their opinions and abilities by comparing themselves to other people for two reasons:

First, to reduce uncertainty in the areas in which they are comparing themselves. Secondly, to learn how to ‘define’ themselves.

He called this concept the “Social Comparison Theory,” and it is one of the biggest contributions to the field of social psychology. What Festinger really ‘nailed’ was that human beings can’t actually define themselves intrinsically or independently. They can only define themselves in relation to someone else. When it comes to the big questions of identity and “Who Am I?,” we need to look at other people.

However, he actually went a bit further than that, and That is where things really get interesting. For one thing, Festinger pointed out that the tendency to compare ourselves to another person decreases as the difference between our opinion—or ability—and the other person’s increases. In other words, the more similar we are to another person in some way we think is important, the more we tend to compare ourselves to that person.

So then, that music student might compare herself to the ‘star’ student of the class. If she finds that her abilities do not measure up to her peer’s talents, she might be driven to achieve more and improve her abilities to ‘match’—or exceed—that student’s abilities.

The social comparison process involves people coming to know themselves by evaluating their own attitudes, abilities, and traits in comparison with others. In most cases, we try to compare ourselves to those in our peer group or with whom we are similar. In doing so, there are two kinds of social comparison—upward and downward social comparison.

Upward social comparison takes place when we compare ourselves with those who we believe are better than us. These upward comparisons often focus on the desire to improve our current status or level of ability. We might compare ourselves to someone better off and look for ways that we can achieve similar results. (That ‘star’ student.)

For example, if you want to assess your skill as a basketball player, you might start by playing a game with your friends or practice shooting free throws. Once you have a good understanding of what you are capable of, you might then begin comparing your performance to other people that you know.

You might immediately think of a friend who plays on his school’s basketball team. This is an example of upward social comparison.

In comparison to him, your performance is not nearly as skilled. At first, you may feel discouraged by the gap between your ability levels. But, you might also realize that you can eventually achieve a similar skill level with a little practice. In this case, the upward social comparison may make you more motivated to improve upon your abilities.

Now, the downward social comparison takes place when we compare ourselves to others who are worse off than us. Such downward comparisons are often centered on making ourselves ‘feel better’ about our abilities or traits. We might not be great at something, but at least we are ‘better off’ than someone else!

You might then compare your abilities to a friend who couldn’t make a basket to save his life. In comparison, your performance is much better. In this case, observing your friend’s poor skills actually makes you feel even better about your own abilities.

So, people compare themselves to those who are better when they want inspiration to improve (upward comparison), and they compare themselves to those who are worse when they want to feel better about themselves (downward comparisons). Some comparisons might make you feel inadequate and less likely to pursue a goal, while others give you confidence and help boost your self-esteem.

According to Festinger, people rely on these comparisons with other people to accurately assess their own abilities, traits, and attitudes. In cases where your comparisons are not effective, you might find yourself getting into situations that are too difficult or complex for your current skill levels.

Social comparison not only plays a role in the judgments that people make about themselves but also in the way that people behave. As you compare yourself to others, consider how both upward and downward social comparison might influence your self-belief, confidence, motivation, and attitude, and watch out for negative feelings that might emerge as a result of this process.

Festinger also pointed out that when we stop comparing ourselves to other people, we often experience hostility and derogation toward those people—as long as continuing to compare ourselves to them brings unpleasant consequences.

In other words, if we stop comparing ourselves to that super fit runner in our running group because it is making us feel bad, then we will tend to deal with those feelings by mentally ‘tearing them down’. If we can’t deal with the negative feelings of the comparison, then we will swap them for more “helpful” ones—anger, hostility, or a tendency to simply ‘write off’ the other person.

If you have ever felt a twinge of envy about someone close to you, and then found yourself subtly turning against them in your mind, then this process will sound familiar. It is a strange script that all of us have running in the background to keep us feeling secure in our positions and self-concepts.

Finally—and this is probably the most important thing for us—Festinger pointed out that the more important we think some particular group of people is, the more pressure we will feel to conform to that group in our abilities and opinions.

In other words, we will feel more pressure to perform at the highest ‘level’ in one’s “Spin Class” than we will to perform like a random cyclist passing by on the street. The difference is that we think our ‘own’ class is a more important comparison group, whereas the ability of some random cyclist on the street probably matters very little.

Now, all of this might sound pretty obvious. We know we have a need to compare ourselves. We know we tend to compare ourselves to people who are similar to us. We know that we compare our abilities and our opinions to groups we deem important. We know that that comparison often dredges up some unpleasant feelings.

So isn’t that just the way we are ‘designed’? Is comparing ourselves to other people really all that bad?

Well, one motivation is to understand the ‘objective’ quality of your work and how you could improve.

It becomes a sort of ‘benchmark’—a source of feedback you can use to become better to assess yourself against a relevant source of comparison. That is not only normal, but essential to one’s growth. But, if you are self-evaluation to boost your self-esteem, that is the kind of comparison that gets you into ‘trouble’.

As it happens, this kind of comparison often gives us a very ‘distorted’ view of ourselves. In fact, research has shown that we tend to prioritize feedback that makes us look good, desirable, and “more than,” and ignore feedback that makes us look weak, undesirable, or generally “less than.” So, even if we “succeed” in making ourselves feel “better,” our brains are often playing a clever ‘trick’ with the data we are using to arrive at that conclusion.

As long as self-enhancement is your goal, then comparing yourself to other people will always make you miserable.

However, if we are comparing ourselves for self-assessment, then wondering how we stack up is natural, healthy, and often very helpful. I would even argue that it is ‘necessary’.

Now, be careful, when comparing ourselves for self-enhancement, this process can quickly become obsessive, toxic, and often very confusing. When the problem is that when we compare ourselves, we are often doing both simultaneously, without even realizing it.

This is a ‘trap’ some of the highest performers in the world can fall into—and it is one of the biggest paradoxes of self-improvement. So, we do need to study other people in order to measure our ‘progress’, but watch out that we don’t end up ‘inflating’ ourselves.

When we compare ourselves to other people, we tend to think of it like fishing: We cast our nets around the people we choose to compare ourselves to, check out the ‘catch’ of observations that comes back, and then use those observations to form an opinion about ourselves (whether we are as good, as smart, as talented, as good-looking, etc.)

However, in reality, we use a VERY SMALL ‘net’. Because when we compare ourselves to other people, we almost always have some preexisting idea about how we stack up. (Remember, we have been engaging in social comparison since the time we were kids. So, that means we have had decades to form all kinds of opinions about ourselves.)

Those opinions are what make up our self-concept and self-esteem. They are like the ‘scaffolding’ of ourselves, ‘propping up’ our identities. Psychologists call these core beliefs “Self-Views,” and we carry them around with us wherever we go. They help us make sense of the world around us—allowing us to navigate that world in a way that is safe, coherent, and stable.

So, no matter what self-view you happen to hold, that opinion is allowing you to ‘make sense’ of your world. With one belief, your world is a positive, promising, growth-oriented place. On the other, it is a self-conscious, taxing, and demanding one.

So, this means that when we compare ourselves to other people, we are often comparing ourselves with a certain opinion already in mind—which helps confirm our ‘preexisting’ beliefs about ourselves.

That allows us to maintain the ideas we have about ourselves, so we don’t rock our mental ‘boat’ too much. It also helps make us stable and predictable to one another, so that when we come across a new person—or interact with an old one—we can predict how they will behave and then we decide how to behave toward them in return. (William Swann developed a theory called “Self-Verification,” which is another major contribution to social psychology.)

So, what does this ALL ‘MEAN’ for you? Well, first off, when we compare ourselves to other people, we are not really comparing ourselves to other people. What we are actually doing is comparing our ‘ideas’ about ourselves to other people—then using our observations about those people to validate those preexisting ideas.

What’s more, the last few years have added a whole new level of ‘abstraction’ to this process in the form of Social Media.

We are comparing our ‘blooper reel’ to someone else’s ‘highlight reel’, and judging ourselves against that prettified proxy. (That is why comparing yourself to other people these days feels so much worse than it used to be.)

Secondly, when we compare ourselves to other people, we are usually just ‘confirming’ the ideas we already have about ourselves.

In other words, we compare ourselves to other people to verify the self-concepts we already hold, not to develop new or accurate ones.

So, if you think about it, we spend all this time obsessing about how we stack up against other people, but in many cases, we have already made up our minds! (If comparing yourself to other people is making you miserable, then ask yourself what your ‘motivation’ for comparing yourself really is.)

Many of us will be surprised by the motivations lurking beneath the self-comparison we are engaged in on a daily basis.

What seems like self-assessment can subtly turn into self-enhancement when we realize we don’t quite stack up the way we would like to.

What seems like self-enhancement can turn out to be self-verification when we realize that we are seeking out comparisons that reflect the people we believe we are.

Then, what seems like self-verification can suddenly become true self-assessment when we realize that we have only been trying to ‘protect’ ourselves.

But no matter what your motivation really is, at the end of the day, the ‘buck’ ultimately stops with you—and that is great ‘news’.

So, if self-comparison is making you miserable, then it is only because of the reasons you are doing it in the first place, and the ideas you choose to form as a result—both of which are, over time, totally within your control!

All this to say, we will never stop comparing ourselves. This instinct to self-evaluate, to look to other people for information about ourselves, is deeply ‘wired’ into us.

So, hopefully, now you might be able to notice your tendency to self-compare, and just by noticing it, refrain from doing it when it is not truly productive!

OBSESSIVE COMPARING
Where comparison to others goes REALLY ‘wrong’, however, is when people are ‘addicted’ to comparison and to feeling like a loser or a victim. They literally spend hours of their time each week on Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media platforms looking at what other people have created and achieved, and they feel ‘sick’ and depressed afterwards.

This type of comparison leads people to invest in negative, destructive beliefs such as:

– I don’t have good friends to experience amazing times with (like these other people)
– I’m not rich, beautiful, talented, educated, thin (you name it) enough to be lovable
– My children aren’t as successful and accomplished as they should be and as so many others are
– My or my kids’ disabilities or challenges are shameful
– I’m not as loved as so many others out there are
– I don’t have vacations or life experiences that are exciting
– My life and career are a huge disappointment and embarrassment
– I haven’t achieved anything worthwhile

It is critical to remember (but so many people forget) that social media platforms like Facebook—which can be very helpful and enjoyable in many ways—encourage us to put out into the world only the most sanitized, flattering, and praise-worthy version of our lives, not the real, raw experiences we are having.

Just ask yourself this: How many selfies have you taken (of yourself alone or with others) that actually never end up being shared? Hundreds? Thousands? It is because you ‘censor’ and judge them so harshly that most never see the light of day. Only the most beautiful and flattering make it onto your ‘feed’.

This realization is vitally important because it is a damaging mistake to compare the raw reality of your own life with the highly fictionalized, sanitized, and “touched-up” version of another’s life. You never know what their life is about, what they are dealing with, and the hidden battles they face—and you probably will never know!

So, when people compare and then feel depressed and demoralized, it is often stemming from a belief that you are not good enough, and you are always on the ‘hunt’ for validation of that belief.

So, realize that:

– Society trains us to compare ourselves using outer, socially-constructed measures of “success” and worthiness including beauty, age, weight, money, social status, marital status, etc. Understand that there’s extreme pressure on us to achieve those measures, but in reality, they are culturally-derived ideas that won’t necessarily bring you personal joy and fulfillment, given your unique values and wants.

– If you continually feel as if you are “less than,” then ask yourself, “How old is this feeling?” I’m guessing that for most, the feeling of “not good enough” began in early childhood, reinforced by authority figures who somehow conveyed that what you did and who you were was not worthy of their unconditional love and positive regard.

– Thousands up thousands of people in this world have been raised by narcissists and exposure to narcissism can bring about extremely damaging effects. It is projected that at least 10% of the U.S. population has a borderline personality disorder and/or narcissistic personality disorder, and from my research and study, the number who are affected by people with these disorders is vast. Those who experienced emotionally manipulative parents often grow up never feeling good enough, and this feeling of lack of worthiness bleeds into all aspects of their lives, including their careers, businesses, families, and relationships.

– If you are chronically unhappy with your life, comparing yourself to others isn’t going to help you. You need another approach that will inspire and motivate you to brave up and make the changes you need to be happier.

So, how can you stop the negative comparing and expand your self-love and self-acceptance? Well, try these things:

– Gain Awareness Of Your Thoughts
Begin to gain awareness of each harsh, judgmental thought you have of yourself in comparison to others. Start to see more clearly when and how you judge yourself and how hard you are on yourself. Every time you recognize a self-hating thought, say to yourself, “There goes one of these judging thoughts.” Then ‘release’ it.

– Change Your Self-hating Narrative
Once you have done that for a week, you will begin to see how tough you are on yourself, and it is time to actively shift your negative thoughts. You need deep commitment and unflagging perseverance, but you can change your thoughts. When you find yourself comparing harshly, stop in your tracks and dig deeper. Try to understand what you feel you are missing, and why. Look at the story you are telling yourself and rewrite that story.

Remember, you are unique, capable, and fully worthy of charting your own joyful course in life. However, you first have to stop the self-recrimination, and start ‘ENJOYING’ the lessons life is trying to teach you!

COVETING
Probably the most harmful version of comparison used to be called “coveting.” We get ‘frustrated’ when someone gets the promotion over us, has a nicer car, or has a skill or talent that we wish we had at our own disposal. (Like that LinkedIn guy.)

Strong feelings that we deserve more can lead us to fear that we will never be good enough, or that we simply deserve what the other person has in their possession. This fear often leads to great discontentment, which if left to itself, can lead to ‘BITTERNESS’.

Bitterness is a ‘dangerous’ emotion. It causes us to begin having immense pity parties and can rob the heart of its passion. Often, this bitterness causes us to find faults with this person where we explain WHY they simply don’t deserve whatever it is that they have.

When bitterness takes root, anger wells up. Many who fall into this ‘trap’ will long to see something ‘bad’ happen to another person. When we live out of fear and insecurities, all of life seems hopeless and joyless. Our thoughts start to gravitate to an idea that we are never good enough so we might as well give up.

[ Bitterness was what that family member—I’ve been talking about in the past two posts—was overcome by. ]

With bitterness as the core of their existence, there will be NO happiness and life seems like a waste. They get ‘bogged down’ and live out this paradox for a lifetime while it eats away at their very souls. Passion dies slowly and they die muttering, “What if…”

‘REASONS’ TO STOP COMPARING
Did you know that by comparing yourself to others, you could be ‘killing’ your happiness? So, what should you do when you feel the urge to compare yourself to others?:

– Stop Discouraging Thoughts
What has happened over the recent years is this: We have mistakenly compared ourselves with our Facebook friends because, in the real world, we might never have compared ourselves with them as they are way too different from us. This creates the problem of comparing with the incomparable.

This comparing yourself to others is a ‘lousy’ way to measure your progress. Even if you had similar early lives, those you compare with may have grown into different situations and personalities. It is a self-defeating exercise when we compare our abilities and belongings with others. It discourages us.

Of course, we also often tend to forget that our friends post the best of themselves on social media. We do not see their defeats and failures. Often, they do not even share with us the trials and pains they went through to reach that happy stage and that cheerful face.

So, stop comparing yourself to others because it WILL discourage you!

– Stop Gossiping
While comparing may not include gossiping, in large part, gossiping is comparing. A big part of our conversation is “small talk.” We small-talk about others’ advantages, disadvantages, mishaps, failures, personal lives, and relationship status.

Gossip, on the whole, is talking about absent people and it always carries a terrible reputation. According to Wert and Salovey (in 2004), around 60% of our discussions with others involve gossip. They further say that all gossip involves social comparison.

Gossipers often compare to put others down. Aggressive gossipers, as a rule, compare themselves with less fortunate people to feel better. It makes people feel better as they see they are in a superior position and is sometimes used as a tool of ‘manipulation’.

– Stop Alienating
By comparing, we can harm our relationships and alienate our close ones from us.

Frequent comparisons can destroy our ability to trust in close relationships. Also, it can breed feelings of worthlessness in them. Negative comparisons can make you feel envy, which can then lead to anxiety, anger, hostility, and a negative mood. A habit of comparison may even bring on depression.

In addition to these, researchers Judith White and Ellen Langer presented in their paper, “The Dark Side of Social Comparisons,” that people who compare themselves often are more likely to experience:

– Envy
– Guilt
– Regret
– Defensiveness
– Unfulfilled Cravings

HELPFUL ‘METHODS’
Here are some things you can do to ‘unhook’ yourself from doing comparisons:

– Have Empathy And Compassion For Yourself
When we notice we are comparing ourselves to other people and feeling either inferior or superior, it is essential to have a deep sense of compassion and empathy for ourselves.

Comparison almost always comes from a place of insecurity and fear, not of deficiency or malcontent. Judging ourselves as less than someone else or judging ourselves for going into comparison ‘mode’ in the first place—which many of us do once we become aware of our tendency to do this—doesn’t help. This judgment causes more harm and keeps us stuck in a negative pattern.

– Use Comparison As An Opportunity To Accept, Appreciate, And Love Yourself
When comparison shows up, there is usually a lack of acceptance, appreciation, and love for ourselves.

Instead of feeling bad about what we think is wrong with us or critical of ourselves for being judgmental in the first place, what if we took this as a cue to take care of and nurture ourselves in an authentic way?

– Be Willing To Admit Your Jealousy
One of the best ways to release something is to admit and ‘own it’. While this can be a little scary and vulnerable to do, when we have the courage to admit our jealousy, we can own it in a liberating way to both other people and us.

Acknowledging that we feel jealous of another person’s success, talent, accomplishment, or quality is a great way to let go of it and remove the barrier we may feel with that person or experience.

If you find yourself jealous of someone you don’t know (like a celebrity or just someone you haven’t met personally), you can acknowledge these feelings to someone close to you to help you ‘release’ this feeling.

– Acknowledge The People You Compare Yourself To
Another great way to break through the negative impact of comparison to others is to reach out to them with some genuine appreciation.

The more excited we are willing to get for other people’s success, talents, and experiences—the more likely we are to manifest positive feelings and outcomes in our lives. There is not a ‘finite’ amount of success or fulfillment—and when we acknowledge people we compare ourselves to, we remind ourselves that there is ‘more than enough to go around’ and that we are capable of experiencing and manifesting wonderful things in our own lives too.

While unhappy people compare with others more often, happy people don’t bother themselves with how well others are doing.

As pointed out by happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, happy people pay less attention to social comparisons. This then loops back to give them an immediate happiness boost. Unhappy people linger on comparisons. This ‘dents’ their self-esteem and makes them even more unhappy.

When you are constantly comparing yourself with others, it leaves you on a “comparison treadmill.” The problem is that this treadmill has only one setting, and that is to keep ratcheting up the speed so that no matter how hard you push yourself, it is NEVER ‘ENOUGH’.

But here’s the truth: The moment you stop comparing yourself, you win!

If how you feel about yourself is determined by how you rate yourself against others, then you will NEVER feel good for very long. There will ALWAYS be someone doing ‘better’ than you on some measure.

‘COMPLAINING’
Complaining is an expression of dissatisfaction of discontent, and it seems that complaining is an American ‘pastime’ for most people. However, some give reasons why they, in their opinion, think it provides ‘POSITIVE’ aspects:

– We Need To ‘Vent’
Like a shaken bottle of carbonated soda, when we are under pressure, we can sometimes feel the urge to “explode” in complaints. Letting it all out can relieve the inner tension we feel from a difficult situation, and help us feel ready to face the next frustration. Sometimes we just need to blow off steam by ‘expressing’ ourselves.

– ‘Validation’ Feels Good
Often when we are frustrated or feel wronged in some way, feeling emotional validation from another person is like a salve for our bruised egos. After getting some quick validation, we feel confident to venture back out and face our problems.

– ‘Solutions’ Can Feel Even Better
Approaching a problem as a team can pool the strengths of several people at once. Complaining to others about what is bothering you opens you up to their input, and perhaps some solutions you hadn’t thought of. People often engage in complaining as a way to ‘ask’ for help.

– We May Need Another ‘Perspective’
When we are too close to a situation, it is common to see only our own perspective and to see the problems we face as magnified and sometimes distorted. Sometimes it helps to tell a trusted friend what we are facing and see if there is something we are not seeing, or if there’s a different way to look at the same situation. If we are open to hearing new input, it can be quite helpful to step outside of our own point of view and see what others think of our complaints.

– We May Need to Build Motivation
Sometimes we know we need to make a change but simply aren’t ready to take the risks and put in the effort quite yet. We need to build motivation. Focusing on what is difficult about a situation can be a way to build motivation to make a change. It is a part of the ‘process’ of getting there.

– Complaining Gets Things Done
Just as “the squeaky wheel gets the oil,” sometimes voicing one’s complaints is a way to get things fixed. If you complain to someone who is in a position to make changes, and if you use a diplomatic approach, complaining in this way can be much more effective in relieving stress than saying nothing, since the ‘polite complaint’ approach can get results.

Now, even though there are a ‘few’ positive outcomes for complaining, it usually reinforces one’s ego at the ‘expense’ of others—which IS NOT positive!

Complaining, however, is MUCH MORE ‘DAMAGING’. When a few venting sessions turn into a continual habit, or a few people venting their frustrations turn into a group of constant complainers, we get into more stress-inducing ‘territory’.

Here are some of the ‘PITFALLS’ of too much complaining:

– Focusing On The Problem, Not Potential Solutions
If you spend too much time complaining, you can work yourself into a place of resigned acceptance, of sheer rage, or feeling ‘stuck’, rather than motivation to change.

– Pessimistic Outlook
Attitudes can work like habits—we get used to thinking a certain way, and we start automatically taking that perspective. A habitual focus on the negative can bring a habitually pessimistic perspective.

– Free-Flowing Anger
When you focus on the things about which people chronically complain, you risk becoming more and angrier. This anger can take on a life of its own, and you can start feeling more angry about more and more things. This anger can lead to relationship and health issues, and is not good for you.

– Negative ‘Groups’
If you find that you and your friends habitually complain about the same things and don’t feel better afterward, it may be time to look at a new topic of focus on, a new ‘group’ to associate with.

– Drain on Others
Those who frequently complain can be experienced as ‘energy vampires’ by others. Be careful that your complaints don’t become so heavy that they overwhelm your listener.

Complaining is tempting because it usually ‘feels’ good (to the one doing it), but like many other things that are ‘enjoyable’—such as smoking or eating a pound of bacon for breakfast—complaining IS NOT ‘GOOD’ for you.

Your brain loves efficiency and doesn’t like to work any harder than it has to. When you repeat a behavior, such as complaining, your neurons branch out to each other to ease the flow of information. This makes it much easier to repeat that behavior in the future—so easy, in fact, that you might not even realize you are doing it!

Also, when your neurons grow closer together, the connections between them become more permanent. Scientists like to describe this process as, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”

Repeated complaining ‘rewires’ your brain to make future complaining more likely. Over time, you find that it is easier to be negative than to be positive, regardless of what is happening around you. Complaining then becomes your ‘default’ behavior, which then changes how people perceive you—as well as deciding whether or not if they even want to be ‘around’ you!

In addition to this, complaining ‘damages’ other areas of your brain as well. Research from Stanford University has shown that complaining shrinks the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is critical to problem-solving and intelligent thought. Now, this can be a bit ‘scary’, especially when you consider that it is one of the primary brain areas destroyed by Alzheimer’s!

While complaining leads to brain damage, it doesn’t stop there. When you complain, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol shifts you into fight-or-flight mode, directing oxygen, blood, and energy away from everything but the systems that are essential to immediate survival. One effect of cortisol, for example, is to raise your blood pressure and blood sugar so that you will be prepared to either escape or defend yourself.

So, all the extra cortisol released by frequent complaining impairs your immune system and makes you more susceptible to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It even makes the brain more vulnerable to strokes!

People also unconsciously mimic the moods of those around us, particularly those we spend a great deal of time with. This process is called “Neuronal Mirroring,” and it is the basis for our ability to feel ‘empathy’. So, one needs to be cautious about spending time with people who complain about everything.

Complainers want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? I’m thinking that you would distance yourself from the smoker, and you should do the same with complainers.

THINGS TO ‘DO’ ABOUT IT
Now, there are two things you can do when you feel the need to complain. One is to cultivate an attitude of ‘gratitude’. That is, when you feel like complaining, shift your attention to something that you are grateful for. Taking time to contemplate what you are grateful for isn’t merely the right thing to do, it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23 percent.

Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude improved their mood, energy, and experienced substantially less anxiety due to lower cortisol levels. So, any time you experience negative or pessimistic thoughts, use this as a cue to ‘shift gears’ and to think about something positive. In time, a positive attitude will become a way of life.

The second thing you can do—and only when you have something that is truly ‘worth’ complaining about—is to engage in ‘solution-oriented’ complaining. Think of it as complaining with a purpose. Solution-oriented complaining should do the following:

– Have A Clear Purpose
Before complaining, know what outcome you are looking for. If you can’t identify a purpose, there’s a good chance you just want to complain for its own sake, and That is the kind of complaining you should nip in the bud.

Start with something positive. It may seem counterintuitive to start a complaint with a compliment, but starting with a positive helps keep the other person from getting defensive. For example, before launching into a complaint about poor customer service, you could say something like, “I’ve been a customer for a very long time and have always been thrilled with your service.”

– Be Specific
When you are complaining, it is not a good time to dredge up every minor annoyance from the past 20 years. Just address the current situation and be as specific as possible. Instead of saying, “Your employee was rude to me,” describe specifically what the employee did that seemed rude.

– End On A Positive
If you end your complaint with, “I’m never shopping here again,” the person who is listening has no motivation to act on your complaint. In that case, you are just venting, or complaining with no purpose other than to complain. Instead, restate your purpose, as well as your hope that the desired result can be achieved, for example, “I’d like to work this out so that we can keep our business relationship intact.”

Now, just like smoking, drinking too much, and lying on the couch watching TV all day, complaining IS ‘BAD’ for you. So, by fostering a positive ‘frame’ of mind, you CAN reap the physical, mental and performance benefits.

CONCRETE ‘STEPS’ TO TAKE
So, here are some ‘steps’ that can help you the next time you feel discouraged, stuck, and want to foster a positive frame of mind: Acceptance; Gratitude; Intentional Kindness; The Bigger ‘Why’; Self Care; Take the ‘Long View’.

ACCEPTANCE
Allow yourself to ‘feel’ what you feel, even if it is not ‘good’. Acknowledge it. Research shows that when we acknowledge our difficult feelings we get through them faster and experience them with less intensity.

Then, seeing things clearly—as they are—without ‘coloring’ them with your judgment of “how they should be” or blowing them out of proportion beyond the current situation.

For example, if you are trying to lose weight and you are discouraged, acceptance means saying something like: “I’m not where I want to be, yet. I’ve had a tough time sticking to getting regular exercise with all of my of responsibilities.” Instead of: “I’m never going to be able to lose weight. I should have already lost at least half the weight I need to lose by now. This always happens. I’m awful at sticking to any commitment. I suck. This is how it is going to be forever.”

When you are able to see the situation clearly, you give yourself an opportunity to make a choice about how to move forward. Acceptance is the opposite of giving up. It is an active decision to be ‘meet’ life where it is and decide on your next step from there. In the above example, once you accept that your work schedule is interfering with your exercise commitment, you might find a gym closer to your work or shift your morning routine to make it to the gym before you start your workday.

GRATITUDE
Count your blessings. Science shows that the best way to help yourself feel better. When you practice gratitude, your brain releases serotonin and dopamine, which make you feel good in the short run, but you also become more productive, less anxious, and develop a mindset of possibility versus scarcity.

For example, if a job opportunity you were hoping for didn’t work out, you could be grateful for meeting interesting people as you applied for it, the support of your friends and family, or something you learned in the process.

Pausing to appreciate something within a tough situation gives you the very resilience you need to get through it.

The following poem presented in a 2018 TEDx talk by professional speaker, trainer, and storyteller Neil Ihde entitled, “Dr. Seuss’ Guide to Contentment,” was the introduction to his talk and is an insightful presentation about gratitude:

“Enough! Enough! Enough! Enough! Enough.”

We use it when we are gruff,
“Enough!”

We use it to rebuff,
“That is enough out of you.”

We use it when we are in a huff,
“Enough!”

Or when we are acting tough,
“You had enough?”

But there is another nuance, another meaning of “enough” to discover –
A positive, pleasant variant to uncover.

“Enough” can describe when we are gratified,
Happy, peaceful, content and satisfied.

We humans are interesting creatures,
And we have a handful of less than stellar features.

One of these blemishes we cannot ignore
Is our infinite, insatiable desire for more.

Our pursuit of more often leads to lament,
Thus it is critical to learn to be content.

Who should we study? Aristotle? Socrates? Zeus?
Too lofty, no pictures, I prefer Dr. Seuss.

Perhaps it takes someone truly plucky
To point out that we are really quite lucky.

I bet he would say in some zany way
To avoid resentment and attain contentment:

‘No latitude, your attitude
Must be one of gratitude.’”

INTENTIONAL KINDNESS
The BEST ‘WAY’ to make yourself feel better is to get out of your own head and do something kind for someone else. Research shows that doing kindness acts in clusters has the biggest positive impact on how you feel.

Remember: You feel 100% of the emotions you give to others. When you share kindness, you feel kindness inside. Notice these feelings as you go.

THE BIGGER ‘WHY’
Connecting to your sense of meaning is one of the best ways to get through challenging times and feeling discouraged. I call this The Bridge of Resilience.

Think about the ‘bigger’ why for whatever it is you are doing and feeling discouraged about. For example, if you are a writer and you are discouraged because you are getting a lot of rejections for your writing, what is your Bigger Why for what you are writing? Perhaps you feel that your writing helps people learn something, feel something, or discover something new.

We all derive a sense of meaning when we use our strengths to be of service and help others. So, what is YOUR Bigger Why?

SELF CARE
When we get discouraged, there is a harsh ‘voice’ in our heads that often comes out in full force. So, the first thing you need to do is to become aware of how you are talking to yourself and shift from harshness to self-compassion.

When you notice that you are berating yourself, you should pause and take a ‘breath’. Then, imagine that you are saying what you are saying to someone you love very much. Rephrase how you would say it, literally picturing that person in front of you.

Then do something that ‘nourishes’ your mind, body, or soul. This will give you fuel to keep going, to work through the discouragement.

Finally, think supportive thoughts to yourself. (Science says that a ‘pep talk’ you give yourself can be as effective as the one you hear from a friend.

– There’s No Such Thing As “Failure”
When we feel like we have failed at something, discouragement often follows. However, failure doesn’t really exist, except for the meaning that we give it. If we don’t get the result that we want, when we want it, we just need to take new action. We can choose, instead of thinking of failure as ‘bad, to think of failure as education, and therefore ‘good’. When we view it this way we realize that failure isn’t something that is to be avoided. It is simply ‘feedback’. It is simply education. When we think this way, we ease our discouragement.

– Stay True To Your ‘Vision’
If we are feeling discouraged, think about our vision. Think about what we want to create in our life. Imagine what it would feel like if the image came into reality. What would this mean for us? Once we see it and feel it, we will also feel empowered and our discouragement will dissipate.

– Don’t Let Your Ego Get In The Way Of Your ‘Development’
Our ego is often the primary cause of our feelings of disappointment and discouragement. BUT, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can control our ego. When we do this, we are on the ‘path’ of development. When we are internally strong enough to handle constructive criticism, and feedback, we receive the rewards of growth—and growth leads to ‘happiness’. When we are growing we feel good, and we are not growing, we feel discouraged.

– Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
A sure-fire, 100% guaranteed way to get discouraged is to focus on other people in a comparative way—and here is why: We generally see their victories, successes, and strengths. We see what they have and what we don’t. We see why they are ‘better’ than us. When we do this we get discouraged and we feel sorry for ourselves. However, we don’t as easily see their struggles, their fears, their setbacks, and their failures. It isn’t empowering. So, DON’T ‘COMPARE’! Everyone is on a unique path. Now, it is great to be ‘inspired’ by another, but if by hearing another’s story, we feel that we are lesser, then we need to just focus on our own path.

– Detach From Rewards And Focus On Actions
If our sole motivation for doing something is the reward that we might get from the action, then we are setting ourselves up for discouragement. Action should be its own reward. When it is, we are ‘free’ and at is at the heart of happiness. When we don’t need someone else’s praise for doing something, when we don’t need a “carrot” for performing our work, then we are truly free to just focus on our work and make it great. When we create ‘substantial’ work we will be happy with ourselves.

– Change Your ‘Expectations’ For Being Happy
What expectations do we need to be happy? What has to happen for us to feel successful? Is it in our control? If it isn’t then we might be setting ourselves up for failure. By expectations I mean the set of circumstances that must be present for us to feel accomplished. For example, if I expect something has to happen a certain way to feel successful, what if it doesn’t happen exactly the way you want? [ Note: See last month’s “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post about “Realistic Expectations” ]. That is a ‘sad’ way to live! We have to create rules that serve us. We have to live by ‘rules’ that are within our control. Many suggest you should consider yourself successful when you grow and improve and you have given your very best.

– Consider Who You Are Spending Time With
The people who we spend the most time with might be a major contributing factor to feeling discouragement. Positivity and negativity are contagious. (This can be a very hard one, especially if those people are family and loved ones.) We have a tendency to become who we most frequently associate with, and if we spend all our time with people who are constantly negative, and feeling sorry for themselves, we can be influenced to see life through a similar ‘lens’. So what can we do? Well, we can’t simply cut loved ones out of our lives, so you should simply expand your social network. Join a peer group that is positive. Start to surround ourselves with positive people as a balance. While you can’t eliminate time with draining people entirely, limit it. Over time we will start to take on their mindset and this will help with any feelings of discouragement we may have.

– Get Outside And ‘Move’
Our sedentary lives have an impact on the mind. Fresh air and sunshine can have an amazing effect on our feelings. Sometimes when we are feeling down, all that we need to do is simply to go outside and relax. Movement and exercise is also a fantastic way to feel better. Positive emotions can be generated by motion. So if we start to feel down, go outside, feel the fresh air, let the sun hit our face, go for a hike, a walk, a bike ride, a swim, a run, whatever. We will feel better if we do this.

– Confide In Someone
If your discouragement lasts more than a day or two, talk to someone. Sometimes just talking about how you are feeling can make you feel better.

– Talk To Your ‘Mentor’
Now, everyone should have a ‘mentor’—no matter your age or experience ‘level’. Your mentor can be a great source of wisdom when we are feeling down. So when discouragement rears its ugly head, get together with your mentor. They will be able to give us wisdom based on experience. In many cases, they will also give us tough love and help us to snap out of it if we are feeling sorry for ourselves. They can also help us to make a specific plan of action to work our way out of discouragement. Being around positive people makes you more positive. If the discouragement persists, sit down with a good Christian counselor and talk about what’s going on.

– Do A “Mind Map”
A mind map is a simple and empowering exercise that can help trigger our creativity and also pull us out of discouragement. Take a blank piece of paper or a whiteboard. In the middle write out what it is that we want (our goal). Then map our ideas that will get us there. Use arrows originating from our goal and pointing to the various actions that we could take. Break those actions down into sub-actions. Spend a good hour of so on this activity. Once we are done we will have a great plan of action. Then get to work. Work will break the ‘chains’ of discouragement better than anything.

– Go Find Someone To Serve
This is a great way to alleviate discouragement. Go find someone who needs help, and then help them. It is really that simple! When we serve others, when we go out of our way to help other people in need, we feel better. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be discouraged when we are giving all our efforts on behalf of another. Discouragement is really a SELF-DRIVEN ‘symptom’ since we are focusing on ourselves. That is why we feel bad. Something isn’t ‘right’ in our life. However, when we stop thinking about ourselves, and when we direct our attention to another, we WILL feel better.

– Remember Some Past Victories
In the Old Testament, the people of Israel set up markers and God created feast days to remind them of his past faithfulness. If God was faithful in the past, we can be certain he’s being faithful now and will be in the future. We humans need reminding.

– Keep An Encouragement File
When someone sends you a kind note, file it. I keep a folder in my email client called “encouragement’. If I ever get discouraged, it helps to read through thanks from people I’ve been able to help in the past.

– Take A Break
Even a 5-15 minute break can refocus you or break the negative string of thoughts that tie you down.

– Work On Something New
I love this tactic. New always refreshes me. Sure, you have to get your core work done. But adding a new project into the mix is exciting.

– Clean Up Your ‘Workspace’
Most people feel better in clean spaces. Organize your desk or cabinet. Run your car through a carwash and vacuum the carpets. Being in a clean and orderly environment impacts the mood of most of us.

– Download Some New ‘Apps’
Don’t waste your life playing games, but if you find a new app for your phone, it can make you more productive and lift your mood. At least it lifts mine.

– Learn Something New
Read a book. Take a webinar. Chase down some Twitter links. Learning helps break mental stalemates and is almost always a positive experience.

– Encourage Someone Else
Get your mind off yourself. Encouraging someone else can leave you feeling better. That is not why you should do it, but sometimes it will snap your funk.13.

– Get Some Sleep
Don’t miss this one. I agree with the axiom that a good night’s sleep is 70% of discipleship. Take a nap. Go to bed early. Our culture is so sleep-deprived. Few things impact mood more than sleep.

– Accomplish A Short-term ‘Win’
Look at your list of things to do and knock a couple of things off the list. At least now there’s something small to cheer about.

– Get Some Time Alone
Sometimes you just need to be alone. Especially if you are introverted. So do it.

– Listen To Some Great Music
Music can really impact mood.

– Watch A Comedy
When was the last time you laughed hard? Don’t wait much longer.

– Take Responsibility
At times discouragement is the result of something that the individual could have controlled (i.e., being late to work or failing college).

Such events shouldn’t be seen as hopeless disasters, but rather, as wake-up calls or as opportunities to improve.

– Get Accountable
If discouragement has been a lifelong struggle, it is likely that the individual will need someone to be accountable for his or her negative feelings.

– Grow
In either case, the individual needs to see that their discouragement is an opportunity to grow and to rediscover who they really are. They need to examine their own life, and in doing so may find that they need to change some of their goals or behaviors. The individual should also realize that it is normal for feelings of discouragement to creep into everyone’s lives from time to time—even into those of the most confident people- and that it is okay.

– Pray
I always say prayer is implied in my posts, but I want to make it explicit it for handling discouragement. Of course, Christian leaders pray, but make sure you pray about your discouragement. God knows, and He’d love to hear from you.

– Read The Bible
I assume Christian leaders are reading Scripture, but when discouraged, hang out in places like the Psalms. Or read a story like Moses’, Joseph’s, Jesus’, or Paul’s, and you will soon realize that almost every biblical character faced discouragement. you are not alone. It is part of the journey.

– Be Realistic
Understand that discouragement is just another part of life. It is often due to situations that are beyond one’s control, rather than one’s own failures.

– Rethink Goals. Seek out a fresh direction or outlook. Plan for an optimistic future.

– No “What-ifs”
Stop thinking about what might have been because it will only result in defeat.

– Do Not Focus On ‘Feelings’
Don’t use feelings as a way of determining how to handle discouragement. Feelings change drastically with every mood. The key is to focus on changing and doing.

– Keep A Journal
Record each discouragement and turn it into an encouragement by recording what was done to handle it.

– Be Ready!
Keep open to change and whatever else may come.

TAKE THE ‘LONG VIEW’
Discouragement generally occurs when our expectations (what we think should happen) don’t align with reality (what actually happens). In many cases our expectations are unrealistic, and this often has to do with how long we think things should happen. If we take a ‘longer’ view, and relax our expectations a little, it can really help to decrease discouragement. The reality is that most things that are worthwhile take a lot of effort and time to come to fruition. So BE ‘PATIENT’!

Everyone deals with discouragement at some point in their life and it doesn’t need to be fatal or something you give into every day. It is part of what makes the human experience ‘rich’—the highs and the lows. If we didn’t experience the lows, then we wouldn’t appreciate the highs!

Discouragement, disappointment, failure, and setbacks—are all things that can help us if we maintain an ‘empowering’ mindset. The key to life is to learn from these experiences and minimize the amount of time that we allow ourselves to stay discouraged.

In fact, some of you are discouraged enough right now that you are thinking of ‘packing it in’.

That is what happens if you don’t face discouragement head-on. A discouraging day becomes a discouraging week. A week becomes a month, becomes a season, becomes you quitting—or at least never realizing your potential if you stay.

Most of the time, It is NOT worth quitting just because you feel discouraged. The thing is, it is not ‘worth’ quitting just because you feel discouraged. There ARE some things you CAN DO!

BEING DISCONTENTED WITH ‘GOD’
So, how does this discontented attitude work SPIRITUALLY? Is there anything ‘wrong’ with being discontented with God?

Well, being discontented with God is a common response when life doesn’t go our way. Since God is ‘supposedly’ in control of everything, the thinking goes, He could have ‘stepped in’ and stopped what happened. He could have changed the situation to ‘benefit’ me. He could have averted the calamity. Since He did not, He is to ‘blame’.

‘BLAMING’ GOD FOR OUR PROBLEMS
The word “blame” means “to find fault with.” Blaming goes beyond acknowledging God’s sovereignty. Blaming God implies that He ‘messed up’, and that there is a fault to be found in Him. When we blame God, we make ourselves His judge and jury. HOWEVER, mere human beings have NO ‘RIGHT’ to pass judgment on God! We are His creation; He is not ours. “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’? Woe to the one who says to a father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to a mother, ‘What have you brought to birth?’” [ Isaiah 45:9-10 ].

So, before we go blaming God for our discontentment, we must examine our own lives and be honest about the choices that could have led to the ‘situation’ not going our way!

Often, Christians are tempted to blame God when suffering comes. We have a tendency to follow the advice of Job’s wife to her suffering husband: “Curse God and die!” [ Job 2:9 ].

Instead of blaming God, those who love Him can face tragedy with the assurance that nothing can harm them that God did not allow for a good and loving reason. He allows difficult things, even suffering and death, for His own higher purposes. He transforms our grief and loss to strengthen us, giving us greater opportunities to store up treasure in heaven than we would have had without the pain (Matthew 6:20).

Yes, God CAN intervene in any situation (and has done so in the past in ‘unbelievable’ ways). However, when He does not intervene, and tragedy ensues, we should stop short of blaming Him for the wrongdoing. In all that Job suffered, “He did not sin by charging the Lord with wrongdoing” [ Job 1:22 ]. Instead of blaming God, who had allowed such overwhelming loss, Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him” [ Job 13:15 ]. (The thing is, God honored Job’s response and blessed him mightily after he passed the test.) God wants to bless us as well with greater understanding, deeper devotion, and eternal reward that can never be taken away. When we are tempted to blame God, we can choose Job’s response and trust that He knows what He is doing (Psalm 131).

God is NEVER the source of your problems. God NEVER sets us up to fail. God NEVER ‘tempts’ people, and NEVER puts you in a situation where you have to sin. NEVER!

You may find yourself in a tough spot—under pressure—and you may choose to do evil. In your mind, you felt ‘forced’ by the circumstances to do wrong. HOWEVER, even in those cases, the choice was YOURS, not God’s—to do that would contradict both His holiness and His love.

Now, what God means for good, Satan means for evil. God will send the ‘trial’ and Satan will turn it into a ‘temptation’. For instance, a deathly sickness comes to a believer. So, could this sickness be a ‘testing’ from God? Yep, it could. When it is, it almost always to purify motives, cause the believer to look away from the things of earth to the things of Heaven, and turn them back to Him. (Many good things are accomplished through sickness in the life of the believer.)

Now, does Satan work through sickness? Yes, he does. Through that very same sickness, God is using to ‘refine the believer, Satan will be used to tempt them to anger, despair, bitterness, and depression. God ALWAYS has a ‘good’ purpose in mind for suffering, whereas Satan is hoping they will blame God for their circumstances.

In another example, you lose your job. You ask, “Could this be from God?” Again, yes, it could. If you lose your job, God could have a better purpose in mind for you—and He often does. (He may have a better job for you, or He wants to build some spiritual character in your life.) Yet, during that time of having lost your job—which is a trial from God—Satan will tempt you to be discontented.

‘SATAN’ WANTS YOU TO BE DISCONTENTED
The Apostle Paul says that our struggles in life are not just against the ‘world’ and our ‘flesh’, but against invisible powers that struggle against us to keep us from becoming all that God wants us to be. Maybe an illustration will help with this:

“It was advertised that the Devil was putting up for sale all of his tools. On that date, the tools were laid out. They had prices marked on them for public inspection, and there were a lot of treacherous instruments: hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, pride, lying, and so on. Laid apart from the rest of the Devil’s tools was a tool, but it was worn more than any of the others and was priced very high.

“‘What’s the name of this tool?’ asked one of the customers.”

“‘That’, the Devil replied, ‘is discouragement.’”

“‘Why have you priced it so high?’”

“Because discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get inside a man’s heart with that when I cannot get near him with any other tools. It is badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since so few people know it belongs to me.”

Discouragement is STILL the Devil’s ‘tool’. Not many people realize he is using it on us. Life is full of discouraging circumstances. Even the most ‘blessed’ people, the most ‘successful’, the most spiritually mature, face constant dissatisfaction, disappointment, discouragement, and discontentment.

[ Note: Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, discontentment in the present, and distrust of the future. ]

Satan is a clever, masterful deceiver (An English translation from the Greek word that means “adversary”). He knows when you are ‘worn out’ and when you are ‘weighted down’. It is at that time that he comes to get you all ‘wrought up’ as well. It is at this time that he makes all kinds of ‘threats’ against you. When the problems of fatigue, frustration, and fear begin to come together, you can become discouraged and discontented. Satan then wants you to ‘blame’ all of your discouragements and circumstances on God!

Now, all discouragement is of Satan or self—it is never of God. God is called “the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3), and that word comfort means “cancellation” or “encouragement.” God has cornered the ‘market’ on encouragement, and the Devil—who works against God—utilized discouragement and discontentment.

Discontentment happens to even the ‘best’ of people. The prophet Jeremiah felt angry and discouraged with God when he believed God was against him, and because of that perspective, he temporarily lost hope in God. Jeremiah was also telling himself things about God that were not true because his mind believed his version of reality instead of God’s (Lamentations 3). When his thoughts changed his negative emotions—having a change of mind and heart—his hope ‘lifted’ even though his circumstances stayed the same.

In addition to Jeremiah, the disciples also felt discouraged after Jesus was crucified (before He rose from the dead). They said, “We were hoping that He was the One who was going to redeem Israel” [ Luke 24:21 ]. They couldn’t see the bigger picture and felt disappointed that Jesus did not fight for His Kingdom. (HOWEVER, Jesus DID rise from the dead to prove He was God and was the long-awaited “Messiah.”)

There is a powerful connection between hope and the contentment of a believer. In this wonderful state of contentment, they are most perfectly displaying the Christian virtue of hope. Hope is a strong and subtle assurance that the future is bright based on the promises of God. We do not need any earthly proof—earthly tokens, or earthly blessings—for hope. Hope has to do with things we do not see, and things we do not yet possess (2 Corinthians 4:18). Hope shines most brightly when a severe and present darkness overcomes the believer and is like a buoyant cork that refuses to say submerged no matter how many times it gets shoved beneath the surface.

‘FIGHT’ AGAINST DISCONTENTMENT
Discouragement is a temptation “common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Discouragement is not to be tolerated or ‘wallowed’ in. It is to be fought against!

Jesus does not want us to be discouraged. In fact, He commands us not to be: “Let not your hearts be troubled” [ John 14:1a ].

In the Greek, Jesus’ words, “let not” are not merely comforting, they are a ‘command’. He knew the disciples would be tempted to fear because things were going to look very bad—like the whole ‘mission’ was imploding—but, Jesus was saying to them, “Don’t let your hearts be ruled by what you ‘see’. Let them be ruled by what I ‘promise’ you!”

So, whatever ’situation’ you are in, it is not time to ‘shrink back’. Think of discouragement as your faith being ‘choked’, and when you are choking, it is not the time to plop down in front of the TV with a plate of comfort food to medicate your melancholy. You need to ‘dislodge’ the obstruction so you can breathe! You need to ‘fight’ for your life! (Now, in some ‘real-life’ situations, you may need someone to administer the Heimlich Maneuver on you.)

So, don’t let discouragement ‘choke’ you. It is ‘dislodged’ by believing God’s promises: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” [ Romans 8:35, 37 ].

Don’t let your ‘heart’ be ruled by what you see. Again, let it be ruled by what Jesus promises you: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” [ John 16:33 ].

So, the ‘KEY’ to overcoming discouragement is to remember GOD’S ‘PROMISES’ and to ‘APPLY’ them. Now, whether or not we see the fulfillment of those promises in this life, His promises still stand (Hebrews 11:13-16). This knowledge kept the Apostle Paul pressing forward, preaching the Gospel, and eventually ending up in a Roman jail where he lost his life.

From prison, he wrote, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” [ Philippians 3:14 ]. He could ‘press on’ through persecution, rejection, beatings, and discouragement because his eyes were on the ultimate ‘prize’, hearing the words, “Well done good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23b; Revelation 22:12).

The thing is, we easily become discouraged when we seek reward or affirmation from those around us. If our service or obedience is based upon immediate gratification, we may be setting ourselves up for discouragement. Followers of Jesus do not always take the easy path, and He warned His followers to consider that before they accepted Him (Luke 14:25-33). So, when a believer has already counted the ‘cost’ of discipleship, they have more strength to face the battles ahead. They are not so easily discouraged when things don’t go their way, because they know the battle is the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:47).

[ FYI: For more details on the ‘cost’ of discipleship, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/it-will-cost-you-v233/ ].

So, discouragement can be kind of a ‘WARNING LIGHT’ suggesting to us that we have lost our primary focus. When we feel discouraged, it helps to get alone with God and allow Him to examine our hearts and our motives (Psalm 139:23). Often, it is pride, greed, or covetousness that is ‘feeding’ our discouragement. A sense of ‘entitlement’ can worm its way into our hearts and highlight the discrepancy between what we have and what we believe we are ‘owed’. When we recognize this, we can humble ourselves, and let the Holy Spirit readjust our expectations. When we use discouragement as a reminder that our priorities have become skewed, the feeling of discouragement can become a refining ‘tool’ to make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29).

[ FYI: For more details about ‘proper’ expectations, view last month’s “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/realistic-expectations-v281/ ].

This psalmist (Sons of Korah) was no stranger to discouragement, and his response was to remember God and trust the promises of the Word:

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you”

[ Psalm 42:5–6 ].

Does just thinking about discouragement can discourage you? Well, by examining the ‘triggers’ of discouragement they can lead us to tools that help us recover from feelings of hopelessness and overcome discouragement. [ Although not all discouragement ends up in depression, however, repeated, unchecked discouragement can cause one to become ‘chronically’ depressed. ]

Understanding the condition of being discouraged, and how discouragement manifests in our spirit, helps us learn to alleviate its effects and avoid it becoming a permanent state. We can learn how to nurture and uplift our souls. Again, Jesus tries to give us comfort: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
[ John 16:33 ]

If in the ‘natural’, things are out of our control, (which they often are) remember that things are NEVER out of God’s control. So, even though we can’t control many situations, we CAN control how we ‘PROCESS’ disappointment, especially with Jesus’ help: “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
[ Mark 10:27 ].

Moments of doubt and discouragement help us grow closer to God and fully appreciate and embrace the life He offers: “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” [ Romans 15:4 ]. The word of God gives life and is the perfect ‘landing space’ for whatever you are facing today, or will face tomorrow: “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
[ Isaiah 40:31 ].

So, here are a couple of stories of Biblical characters that hopefully will encourage you to keep ‘fighting’ by showing you how they overcame discouragement through their trust in God—Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Caleb, a young man sent by Moses.

Can you imagine Joseph’s disappointment when he learned that his fiancé, Mary, was pregnant (Matthew 1)? Seeing her “great with child,” Joseph thought about ‘divorcing’ her. Although he never acted rashly with his espoused, he was baffled by her condition.

He was bitterly disappointed that Mary had apparently betrayed him. However, instead of being overcome by rejection, betrayal, and total despair, as a praying man, he waited upon God, and his love for and patience with Mary was rewarded. God provided clear directions to help him move forward, out of discouragement, and into the divine purpose for his life. God understood his mental difficulties and rewarded Joseph’s conscientious attitude toward Mary by revealing His redemptive plan to him.

This is just another example of God never failing those who carry their anxieties to Him. Joseph received a direct and distinct ‘revelation’ from God, and at once his fears were banished and his ‘duty’ was made clear. (This CAN happen to you, too!)

In a story from the Old Testament, we learn that Caleb and 11 other men were commissioned by Moses to inspect the Promised Land of Canaan (Numbers 13). When they returned after scouting out the land, 10 of them were discouraged and told Moses that the people were too strong and the Israelites should not proceed into Canaan.

However, Caleb (and Joshua) said that they should move into the land flowing with milk and honey because of their trust in what God HAD said: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life” [ Joshua 1:1-5a ]. Caleb persevered when the other spies became discouraged and his courage was ‘unfaltering’ (because of God’s promises).

I hope these stories of courage inspired your spirit and will serve as a reminder that God is with us in the ‘mountains’ and ‘valleys’ of life. The things, it is in the valleys that we can call out to Him to find comfort such that we fully appreciate our mountain top experiences!

COMPARISONS
Falling into the ‘comparison trap’ can begin the second you roll out of bed in the morning and pick up your phone. You log onto social media and are immediately inundated with these pictures of perfection that drag you straight into the comparison trap. You begin to feel as though your life just doesn’t measure up. But, are they really all they seem? What does the Bible say about comparison?

Well, comparison implies in some way that God ‘cheated’ you out of something someone else has. Once the Devil makes us take a glance at what someone else has he can make us question what WE have. Comparison creates contempt and it makes us despise our blessings.

One of the Old Testament stories that addresses this comparison ’trap’ is that of Jacob and Esau. Not only did Esau want Jacob’s stew—a momentary blessing—but he was willing to give up his birthright for it. (Comparing our marriage to someone else’s, for example, can breed contempt for our spouse and can lead to sinful rebellion, or infidelity.) [ Not to be outdone, Jacob ‘swindled’ Esau because he wanted his father’s blessing that was reserved for Esau. ] The Bible says Esau “despised” his birthright. He hated what was his because he wanted something else.

“Now Jacob cooked a stew. When Esau came in from the field, he was exhausted, so Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me some of this really red stuff, because I’m exhausted”—that is why he is called Edom. So Jacob said, “Sell your birthright to me today.”

Esau said, “Look, I’m about to die. Of whatever use is this to me—a birthright?” Jacob said, “Make a pledge to me now.”

So he made a pledge to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank, then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.”
[ Genesis 25:29-34 ].

Continuing on with Jacob, Joseph was his favorite son—since he was the son of Rachel, Jacob’s ‘first’ love.

Joseph was not only his father’s favorite, which I am sure was plenty enough to get his brother’s riled up, but our friend Joseph also had dreams of superiority that he all too willingly shared with them!

His dreams seemed to indicate he would be in a position above them.

They compared themselves to Joseph and already felt they came up short in their father’s love! After all, their father gave Joseph the famous multi-colored coat!

So they had to live with seeing him in this coat that just screamed “I’m Dad’s favorite” to them…and then these dreams he had!! Oy vey Joseph!

So they decide to get rid of Joseph and consider killing him, but soon give in to greed and sell him as a slave instead.

We know the rest of the story! Joseph excels, moves up in the world, and soon becomes second to Pharaoh and saves the Egyptians (and his brothers) from famine!

God saved Joseph who was clearly the victim of jealousy and the comparison trap (although much of it was self-inflicted).

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his other sons because he was the son of his old age. So he had made him a long-sleeved tunic. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak to him in shalom.

Then Joseph dreamed a dream and told his brothers—and they hated him even more.

He said to them, “Please listen to this dream I dreamed. There we were binding sheaves in the middle of the field. All of a sudden, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.”

“Will you truly be a king over us?” his brothers said to him. “Will you really rule over us?” So they hated him even more because of his dreams and because of his words.

But then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers, saying, “I have just dreamed another dream. Suddenly, there was the sun and the moon and the eleven stars bowing down to me!” He told it to his father as well as his brothers.

Then his father rebuked him and said to him, “What’s this dream you dreamed? Will we really come—your mother and I with your brothers—to bow down to the ground to you?” So his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the speech in mind”
[ Genesis 37:3-11 ].

Even when we go back to the beginning, where the people and the environment were as close to ‘perfect’ as possible, one of the sons of Adam and Eve—Cain—was overcome with the comparison ‘trap’.

“Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.

So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.

And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him”
[ Genesis 4:2-8 ].

Cain killed his brother out of jealousy that came from comparison. He didn’t look at what God wanted from him. He only looked at the fact that his brother was acceptable and he was not. Rather than fix the issues that he had with sinfulness, he chose instead to eliminate his “competition.”

Comparisons can be a carefully laid ‘trap’ that will lead you down a road of relational ruin. Sinful comparing tends to measure our own worth through the lens of others’ lifestyles or accomplishments. “Then I observed that most people are motivated to succeed because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind” [ Ecclesiastes 4:4 ].

Attempting to find your own identity by comparing yourself to others will lead you into an identity crisis. God does not call us to discover our identity by studying the life of our neighbor. Rather, the Holy Spirit reveals our own uniqueness as we grow in the likeness of Christ. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” [ Ephesians 2:10 ]. The energy we give to measure ourselves with others would be much better used to explore the unique gifts God has deposited in our own lives.

Comparing eventually leads to two extremes: insecurity or arrogance. If you think you are not measuring up, it leads to great insecurity. That low view robs you of your God-given potential. On the other hand, you might have an inflated view of yourself after looking down on the weaknesses of others. That arrogance can fuel a religious spirit that feeds pride.

When we compare ourselves to others it leaves us feeling less than, unworthy, and just not good enough. It can be very destructive and the Bible shares over and again that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. When comparing ourselves to others, we begin to grow envious, jealous, develop anger, greed, gluttony, and often we begin to lust over what we think we lack.

That moment we begin comparing ourselves, whether it is our looks, position at a job, weight, or a myriad of other reasons, our mind becomes clouded (Galatians 1:10). Instead of seeing all the blessings in front of us that God has bestowed (Romans 12:2), we are filled with anything but.

Comparing ourselves to others prevents us from focusing on God’s plan for our lives and instead we focus on wanting to be someone else.

God has blessed me with special gifts and talents. Therefore, we have to be open to being the person God made us so we can do God’s work properly—so you won’t compare well with people that have been given different gifts, and God doesn’t want you to! When we become content and happy with who we are we will find healing, peace, joy, a thankful heart, and true happiness.

When you start to feel doubt because you don’t think you are as rich as your friend, your house isn’t as big as your neighbors, or you don’t have the body of the person on the magazine cover, remind yourself of your strengths. You are strong, smart, and talented. Maybe you are really good at your job or you have a giving heart and love to serve others.

Just remind yourself of all the amazing gifts and talents that God has given you. If you need help, ask God to reveal and remind you of your strengths (1 Corinthians 12: 4-7).

Comparison reveals our ‘brokenness’. The reason we compare ourselves is because, deep inside, we are dissatisfied with what we have and who we are. Whether we feel good or bad after we compare ourselves to someone else, we do it because things aren’t right inside of us. It is a ‘heart’ issue. Comparison is a poisonous ‘fruit’ of discontentment, which admits that we are not satisfied with how God made us, that we are not happy with where he has placed us, and that we don’t appreciate the life he has ordained for us. Comparing ourselves to others is an ‘insult’ to God!

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”
[ Psalm 139:16 ].

Sadly there are numerous ways in which we compare ourselves to others. Here are just a few. Do any of them ring true for you?

– Our intelligence
– Our godliness
– Our parenting styles
– Our body image
– Our success
– Our marital status
– Our fashion abilities
– Our wealth
– How crafty we are
– How disciplined we are
– How many ‘balls’ we can have in the air

At best, comparison gives us a false sense of joy when we think we fare better than others but, in time, it all ‘fades’. Comparison will take away our joy, make us forget the blessings we have, lead us to grumble against an awesomely good God, and turn us into self-focused, discontent, and discouraged people.

While comparing ourselves to others may distract us from the real issues going on in our hearts, it doesn’t heal those issues or deal with our sins. The only way we can break free of this comparison trap is by finding our hope and ‘identity’ in Christ.

Those who know the saving power of Jesus have been given a WHOLE NEW ‘IDENTITY’. No longer are we ‘enemies’ of God destined for eternal Hell. We have been given a new standing, a new name, a new ‘destiny’!

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”
[ 1 Peter 2:9 ].

You no longer have to have your identity resting in where you live, what you do, or who people think you are. Those are ‘superficial’ conditions and your heart should not dwell there. Instead, your heart needs to rest in the fact that you have been ‘adopted’ into the family of God, have been rescued from sin and hell, and will live forever with Jesus! Woo-hoo!!!

God ‘calls’ His people to be “be strong and of a good courage.” Strong, so we can fight against sin (even the sin of comparison) courageously knowing that whatever God has for us is good, profitable, and loving.

The only place where we will find this strength, courage, and a deep-seated satisfaction in the Holy Spirit, who come to ‘reside’ in the born-again believer.

Comparison just robs one of joy and leads them away from Jesus. We need to stop looking to others to feel good about ourselves. Instead, look to Jesus who gives joy that ‘surpasses’ circumstances. As we focus on Jesus and what He has done for us, one cannot but help see the love of God for them, and be thankful for who God made them and what he has for them.

Comparison is an ugly ‘game’. Jesus warned us not to get caught up in it, especially when it came to how we “look” religiously. Jesus told a parable that can help us understand this:

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed[a] thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted”
[ Luke 18:10-14 ].

Now, normally, people don’t set out to exalt themselves when they compare themselves to others, but neither do they play the comparison game with the aim of feeling inadequate as a result.

People compare themselves to others out of their INSECURITY. They hope to feel better about themselves if they end up ahead. They also compare because of their competitive or perfectionist nature—we all have the desire to be right, perfect, or just better than another. BUT, comparison RARELY leads to humility, which pleases God and saves us the stress of constantly running our measuring stick over others in front of us.

Now, the thing is, a LOT of the time when we compare ourselves to others, some BAD ‘FRUIT’ is produced. In addition to that, we have got to stop pretending like comparison isn’t a ‘SIN’. It is not just a burden placed on us that steals our joy, it also destroys our ‘COMMUNION’ with God and our ‘community’ with those around us. Here are some of the rotten ‘fruits’ that grow in our hearts through the sin of comparison:

– Envy
Most often, comparison acts as a glorified word for envy. This shows up in our desire for our neighbor’s gifts or success, whether in their career, marriage, or something else they have that we lack.

– Pride
Often intertwined with envy, pride is another bad fruit that grows from holding ourselves up to others on a scale. Pride surfaces when we think we deserve the God-given gifts others have when truthfully we deserve no good thing.

On the other hand, the arrogance in our hearts is exposed as we look at the sin of others and decide our sin is less despicable to a holy God. Or maybe it is our theology we compare. We think we deserve the leadership role or book contract because we have read the Puritans and have our systematic theology down pat.

– Ingratitude
When we compare our lot to the lives of our fellow believers, we show we are ungrateful for the many gifts we have received from God.

Sometimes, we covet something in an unbeliever’s life, revealing our priorities are misaligned. Why would we envy their life when our portion is the Lord? We get Jesus! He is a treasure that far exceeds anything our neighbor possesses (Psalm 73).

– Competition
Comparison can drive us to sinful competition with other believers. We might find sinful motivations in our heart for serving at church or studying our Bible. If we can do more and do it better than them, we would get the praise and recognition we “deserve.”

– Unloving
In all these things, we find a common thread: we are doing a terrible job at loving others.

–  Insecure
If we are encouraged to focus on our gifts, talents, and goals rather than those of others, we are missing the mark. I’m betting you still feel insecure sometimes. Or maybe you have still had moments where you pridefully look down on someone whose sin is obviously far worse than yours. “I’m a sinner, but at least I don’t sin like they do.” Well, if that doesn’t sound strikingly familiar…(Luke 18:11).

The truth is, whether comparing ourselves to another leaves us feeling downtrodden or pretty great about ourselves, we need a renewed vision—a renewed ‘heart’. The key is that we need to be ‘CAPTIVATED’ by Jesus.

So, what would happen if everyone took their eyes off of themselves and turned them upon Jesus like the old hymn encourages us to do?

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in his wonderful face,
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
in the light of his glory and grace.”

[ VIDEO: “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” – Alan Jackson ]

Good fruit will spring up in our hearts when we fix our eyes on Him rather than our circumstances, ourselves, or anyone else.

So, what would be the correct ‘view’ of one’s self?
When we ponder Jesus and all He is and has done, we are reminded of how truly amazing it is that He’d come down to rescue us. Daily gazing upon His holiness corrects our ‘view’ of ourselves. We will recognize how far from holy we are and how much we need His ‘GRACE’.

In comparison to Christ, we could NEVER ‘measure up’. He is holy and good and we are not (Romans 3:10-12). He is preeminent; we are the dust of the earth (Colossians 1:18; Psalm 103:14). He is the Potter and we are the clay (Romans 9:21).

Even in the virtues where we bear His image, we discover our ‘bankruptcy’ in comparison to Jesus. We will NEVER be as kind, loving, just, or faithful. This truth should lower our faces to the ground in worship of the King who reigns over all!

Seeing ourselves rightly leads to a deeper ‘humility’ toward God and others. Humbled hearts are thankful hearts. Humbled hearts know they’ve received more than they deserve. This becomes a safeguard against envy and enables us to rejoice with others in what they receive.

Likewise, we will ‘grow in grace’, knowing we are a great sinner who has been forgiven much.

When one’s ‘eyes’ are focused on Jesus, they will behold His holiness and become more like Him day by day. (sanctification) We will grow in holiness and our hearts will cherish Him more and lead us into worship and loving obedience to His commands.

In all this, a greater love for others will blossom in our hearts. Instead of coveting their circumstances, we will rejoice with them. Rather than wishing to be gifted in the ways God has made our fellow believers, we will appreciate their giftedness. Instead of looking down on others for their sin, mercy will mark our thoughts and interactions with them.

Ungodly comparison often feels like a ‘trap’ we fall into. However, it is a heart issue that we must tackle. It is not a ‘snare’ that lives outside of us, but a sin that springs up from within.

The thing is, freedom for the believer IS possible! The Holy Spirit enables us to look to Jesus, behold His beauty, and walk in faith, enjoying His good gifts. Then, we will be free from looking at others and bemoaning our supposed lack or cowering over others in pride. “The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing” [ Psalm 34:10 ].

Truly, the believer lacks no good thing!

As God’s children, there’s no ‘space’ for a spirit of comparison in our life (2 Corinthians 10:12). Because, the thing is, if you constantly have your eyes on the people around you, a day will come when you eventually stop looking ‘at’ God altogether!

Making comparisons only leads to rivalry (Philippians 2:3) and pride—never true humility. It makes only for division.

Comparison opens the door for sabotaging lies to steal our confidence and stymie our courage. Comparison puts up roadblocks along the path to fulfilling our God-given calling by setting an undefined standard of approval and acceptance.

You are God’s workmanship, His ‘masterpiece’. Do you REALLY ‘believe’ that? King David wrote: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” [ Psalm 139:13-14 ]. King David believed it—hopefully, you can, too!

So, here are just a few ways to stop comparing yourself to others, and hopefully, a way to find peace and contentment in being JUST how God made you to be!:

– Remember That You Are Fearfully And Wonderfully Made
Psalm 18:30 tells us God’s ways are “perfect” and Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Therefore you are God’s unique creation. As you surrender your heart and will to Him, He can mold you and transform you into exactly what He wants you to be. So when you begin to feel inadequate and feel the temptation to compare, quietly whisper a prayer of thanks to God for making you the way you are.

– Realize We All Have Different Strengths And Weaknesses
I once heard my father jokingly say to someone, “There will always be someone thinner, richer, and better looking, so get used to it.” I realize now that his advice is true. No matter how hard you and I try, someone will always be better at something than we are. So when we start feeling the need to compare, we must recognize our opportunity to practice humility. This, too, can come through a simple prayer: Thank You, Heavenly Father, that in my weakness, You are strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Help me rely on You and Your strength, rather than seek out someone who appears weaker than me to make myself feel stronger.

– Choose Compliments Over Comparison
When you notice a mom who is able to manage her many kids in public better than you can, don’t start thinking of the many reasons she’s probably able to do that (she doesn’t work, she’s rich, she has a husband who dotes on her). Instead, compliment her on it. I once saw a woman in a store wearing the same top I had… only she looked better in it. She was shorter, thinner, and younger. Rather than dwell on that (and begin to hate her for it) I quickly said “I have that same top, but you look so much better in it. Good job.” The sincere smile on my face killed the self-pity that could have arisen in my heart that I’m not younger, thinner, or more able to rock that top. Genuinely complimenting others outwardly keeps us from complaining inwardly and cultivating a critical spirit.

– Rely On God’s Opinion Rather Than The Opinion Of Others
Our own insecurity often causes us to compare ourselves with others, looking for a way to feel superior. But what if you and I relied on God’s opinion of us before we had a chance to listen to our own, or others’ opinions? If someone is praising a woman who hasn’t done half of what you have done, quietly thank God that He sees your heart and actions and He knows the real story. If someone is bragging about her own abilities, don’t start comparing her talents with yours. Instead, quietly whisper “This doesn’t matter, God. Help me to be content with Your evaluation of me over anything else.” Sometimes we have to tell ourselves what to think in order to keep our minds from going in the wrong direction. Not only are you and I fearfully and wonderfully made, but when we are in Christ, He sees us as perfect in Christ. That means we have God’s measuring stick, not our own or that of others to live by.

So, it is time you stop comparing yourself with others. I know it is hard, but the measuring stick will just get stuck in the ‘mud’. God made you to be you! He thinks ALL believers are amazing! There is a unique plan and role for each and every believer in the ‘family’ of God. He has ‘chosen’ us, and wants to lead us into who He made us to be and do.

CIRCUMSTANCES
We often want to blame circumstances for our discontent, but that is ‘barking up the wrong tree’. Contentment is determined by what we ‘believe’—and our belief is fueled by what we are ‘seeing’.

The Apostle Paul ‘saw’ the right thing: “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” [ Philippians 3:8 ].

Jesus was THE ‘treasure’ to Paul. What Paul saw in Jesus was what the man in Jesus’s parable saw in the field: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” [ Matthew 13:44 ].

Just a few minutes before the man saw the treasure, would he have been content to sell everything and buy the field? I don’t think so. HOWEVER, a few minutes AFTER he saw it he was off to the auctioneer. What was the difference? Well, he saw the ‘treasure’.

So, the secret to contentment in “whatever situation” is seeing the ‘Treasure’ that trumps them all—Jesus!

When one recognizes discontentment, the first thing to do is ‘STOP’ what they are doing. Stop grumbling and complaining. Stop sulking or stomping around the house. Stop the critical tongue toward others that often comes from the abundance of a discontented heart. Stop looking at the covetousness-producing catalogs, Tweets, and Facebook pages. Just stop!

Then, one needs to ‘LOOK’ at what they are looking at. They are usually discontent because they perceive an obstacle between them and their ‘prize’ (which is probably not Jesus).

Finally, one needs to get their spiritual ‘eyes’ back on the correct ‘Prize’ by thinking about Jesus. They are probably discontent because they have been meditating on the wrong things and become weighed down with wrong thinking. so, it just might be time for them to pick up the easy ‘yoke’ (Matthew 11:30) of delight in Jesus by doing what Paul instructed the Philippians to do: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” [ Philippians 4:8 ].

So, one shouldn’t let circumstances govern them, and they need to lay aside this heavyweight by fixing their eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), whose surpassing worth, when they see it, makes the worst circumstances this world can throw at them nothing but ‘rubbish’.

COMPLAINING
Complaining is one of those sins that doesn’t get much ‘airtime’ in the church. They talk about ‘big’ sins like lust, greed, selfishness, anger, envy, adultery, and pride. By comparison, complaining seems pretty minor, and is just a ‘part’ of life. We know it is wrong, but it just doesn’t seem like a big deal.

BUT, God takes complaining VERY seriously. It is not just a little sand in his eyes. In Bible times, people died because they complained against Him (Numbers 11:33).

Complaining is like smoke. Smoke proves that there is a fire somewhere, and complaining proves that discontentment is nearby. Discontentment and complaining go hand-in-hand. If we are going to kill discontentment, we need to kill complaining. If we are going to kill complaining, we need to get our minds around why complaining is so wicked.

So, here are a few ‘evils’ related to complaining:

– Is the opposite of praise and worship
– Reveals the ‘corruption’ in one’s soul
– Is the mark of an ungodly attitude
– Is considered rebellion
– Is unworthy of a child of the King
– Forgets the many blessings one has already received
– Sets a bad example
– Makes no unbeliever want to be like the believer

People just DO NOT understand HOW ‘significant’ complaining is to their general attitude (and God’s ‘heart’. Some of the ‘excuses’ people use are:

– “I’m not complaining, I am just venting”
– “Yes, I admit I am complaining, but I can’t help myself”
– “You have no idea what I’m going through”
– “I never expected this”
– “You have never experienced anything like what I’m going through”
– “I don’t deserve this”
– “God has abandoned me”

Complaining is not just an insignificant, minor, everyday sin. It is a slap in the ‘face’ of God. When we complain, we are saying that God has not been good to us. We are making a loud statement to ourselves—and to the rest of the world—that God hasn’t been a good Master.

When one comes to the conclusion—after surveying their lives and circumstances—that guy did something wrong, That is a BIG ‘problem’. Sure, he has gotten us out of some jams, and He did the whole ‘salvation’ thing for us. However, overall, we are not too happy with how our lives have progressed—and if it was up to us, things would have been a lot different. So, we complain.

However, in reality, no one has been kinder to us than God. He gave us his precious son, the one whom he treasured, to save us. He pulled us from the filthy gutter of our sin. We insulted him, ran from him, hated him, and told him to leave us alone. He chased us, caught us, washed us, welcomed us, and made us His children [ FYI: Read the poem, “The Hound of Heaven” ].

Every morning we wake up experiencing new, fresh mercy from God. Psalm 103:4 describes God as one “who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He is working everything together for our good. He has prepared a place for us in Heaven. He is coming back to claim us as His own. He will preserve us through temptation and trial until we stand before His throne. Then, He will reward us for our weak, flawed acts of service to Him, and we will be with Him forever, experiencing the joy of a New Heaven and a New Earth.

Complaining is ‘blindness’. Blind to all that God has done for us. Blind to the mercies that surround us. Blind to the blessings that greet us with the sunshine. It is as if we are standing on top of a mountain of gold coins complaining about the quarter we lost. God has ‘dumped’ many, many blessings on us, and we are whining about one ‘little’ thing we don’t have.

When we talk/think like this, we are saying that God has not been good to us and that He has not been so kind after all. That is why complaining is so ‘wicked’!

It is kind of like putting God on ‘trial’. We drag God into the ‘witness stand’ and demand that He give an account for His actions. We want to know why He allowed a particular circumstance to occur when He had the power to make things turn out differently. Complaining turns us into ‘prosecuting attorneys’. (Israel complained to God even after they were evacuated from Egypt and given a land of “milk and honey” and accused Him of “hating” them – Deuteronomy 1:27).

Whining was Israel’s besetting sin. It started when Moses first went to Pharaoh and people complained that he was making their job harder instead of easier (Ex. 5:21). They grumbled at the Red Sea, where they accused Moses of bringing them out into the desert to die. The grumbling continued more or less for 40 years, as they became a nation of malcontents. Israel’s attitude is a warning against the great sin of complaining.

[ VIDEO: “Complain” by ApologetiX ]

The thing is, we believers are NO ‘DIFFERENT’ that they were—revealing the inward condition of our hearts! The source of our discontent is often thinking that our “greeds” are really our needs.

Although the Israelites complained to Moses, they were really grumbling against God. By saying that it would have been better for God to let them die back in Egypt, they were really saying that they wished they had never been saved.

Believers also need to be honest about the fact that all of their dissatisfaction is discontent with God. (Even though we take out our frustrations on someone else.) A complaining spirit indicates a problem in their ‘relationship’ with God.

The irony, of course, is that God ALWAYS gives us exactly what we NEED. For the Israelites, this meant manna in the wilderness. For us, it means the true Bread of Life, Jesus.

Complaining sucks the joy out of life. The complainer can’t even enjoy the good things they have. Again, quoting Thomas Watson, he said, “Discontent is a fretting humor which dries the brain, wastes the spirits, and corrodes and eats out the comfort of life. Discontent makes a man so that he does not enjoy what he possesses.” When we complain, we portray God as Oscar the Grouch or a joyless ‘Scrooge’. NOT ‘GOOD’!

DISOBEDIENCE
Theologian Thomas Boston’s exposition of the sin of discontentment shows how it is essentially ‘practical atheism’ which constitutes disobedience to God. This insinuates:

– A Mistrusting Of God
Contentment is trusting God implicitly. Thus, discontent is the opposite of faith.

– Against God’s Plan
In my desire to be sovereign, I think my plan for me is better. As Paul Tripp well puts it, “I love me and have a wonderful plan for my life.”

– A Desire To Be Sovereign
See No. 2. Like Adam and Eve, we desire to taste of the tree that will transform us into sovereign kings.

– Covets Something
He gave us His Son; therefore, can we not trust him for the trivial things? (Rom. 8:32)

– Communicates That God Has Made A Mistake
My present circumstances are wrong and they should be otherwise. I will only be content when they change to suit my desires.

– Denies God’s Wisdom
Isn’t this precisely what Eve did in the garden in questioning the goodness of God’s Word? Thus, discontentment was at the heart of the first sin. “Has God really said?” That is the question at the heart of all our discontentment.

Disobedience is caused by rebellion and distrust of God. To be disobedient is to yield to self-will instead of surrendering to God and desiring His will in all things.

God expects obedience (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). So, a few things one can do to become obedient—or ‘more’ obedient—is to:

– Focus on the spiritual ‘health’ of your heart
– One must ‘Control’ Your Mind Rather than Letting It Control You
– One must ‘Submit’ to God

So, confess your disobedience and ask God for forgiveness and claim His promise of complete pardon: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” [ 1 John 1:9 ]. Disobedience to God and those in authority over you can block the joy, blessings, and inner peace which God desires for you.

PRIDE
Discontent is a manifestation of ‘pride’ (including rebellion and unbelief). It flows from a heart that says, “I deserve better than God has given me.” This was the ‘original’ sin of Satan himself and his angels.

The sin of pride is the sin of sins. It was this sin, we are told, which transformed Lucifer, an anointed cherub of God, the very “seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty,” into Satan, the Devil, the father of lies, the one for whom Hell itself was created. We are warned to guard our hearts against pride lest we too “fall into the same condemnation as the Devil.”

It was also the sin of pride that first led Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” [ Genesis 3:6 ]. Even though there were probably ‘thousands’ of trees that she could have eaten of, discontentment makes one want what they don’t have and pride will ‘encourage them to go get it.

St. Augustine wrote, “‘Pride is the commencement of all sin’ because it was this which overthrew the devil, from whom arose the origin of sin; and afterwards, when his malice and envy pursued man, who was yet standing in his uprightness, it subverted him in the same way in which he himself fell. For the serpent, in fact, only sought for the door of pride whereby to enter when he said, ‘Ye shall be as gods.’”

The sin of pride is a preoccupation with self. It is thus very fitting that the middle letter in the word is “i.” Pride is all about “me, myself, and I.” So even as the word “pride” is centered upon an “i,” the sin itself is also centered upon “I.” If you are preoccupied with yourself, you are suffering from the sin of pride.


Most of the time we are convinced that a particular ‘thing’ will bring us contentment. We look around, and we see other people who have what we want, and they look so happy. However, behind the scenes, their lives are out of order and dysfunctional!

So, things start to ‘misfire’ when we think that we know what is best for us or that our vision of the future is the best possible outcome for our lives—back to pride. Because, the truth is, we don’t know what’s best for us—only God does—especially what is best for our discontentment. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” [ Proverbs 16:18 ].

So here are a few suggestions on how to overcome pride:

– Adopt A ‘Correct View’ Of God
When you have a distorted view of who God is, you will not give Him the reverence and respect that is due to Him. As a result, your arrogance will be free to develop until you suffer the consequences of your pride. If you tend to think too highly of yourself, focus more on the greatness of God.

– Revise Your False ‘Beliefs’
God wants His people to be living examples of His love to others. Yet pride is the single greatest obstacle to loving people. Reflect on your attitudes with the help of the questions that follow.

– ‘Repent’ Of Your Sin
The hardest thing for a proud person to do is to admit that he or she is wrong. Are you prepared to do that? If so, give your type of pride a specific name (conceit, vanity, or whatever).

– Defend Against Spiritual ‘Attacks’
Pride is easy to slip back into after you have repented. You can even become proud of your humility! Be certain that the world, the flesh, and the Devil will do all they can to pull you back into your sin of pride.

Satan will lay opportunities in your path that will make it easy for you to exercise your pride. Resist his schemes by putting on the whole armor of God. Especially use the “belt of truth” (Ephesians 6:14) by reminding yourself that God is the one who deserves honor, not you.

Spiritual attacks will never cease. So remain alert. The power of God is more than enough to defend you against spiritual attacks so that you may continue to live in a way that is consistent with your repentance.

– Flee ‘Temptation’
You will never fully be able to escape temptations to be proud. But you can significantly reduce these temptations—and thus improve your chances of remaining free of pride—if you will take specific steps to avoid temptation.

Make changes in your lifestyle that will reduce your temptation to be prideful. Be bold and creative!

Do not focus on your failures of the past but rather on God’s ability to give you lasting victory over pride. Believe that He will implant a more humble attitude in your heart—for good!

IDOLATRY
The world would have us believe that our discontentment is a ‘circumstances’ problem. Given the right circumstances, people will be happy all the time. However our problem is not a circumstances problem, it is ‘idolatry’. Something or someone other than God ascends to the ‘throne’ of our hearts. What was once a ‘good’ thing that we desire now becomes something that we MUST ‘HAVE’. When we place our happiness on anything other than God, we are going to be miserable. Why? Because we are made to worship God and find all our joy in Him (Psalm 19; Isaiah 6).

Idolatry is loving anything more than God. The problem is when we love a good thing too much, when we love it more than God.

Idolatry is ‘wicked’, and it is an exchange of the all-satisfying God for a person, job, or thing.

Idolatry is also very subtle. It often takes on the form of a good desire, like excelling on the job, but then spirals out of control. An idol can be a good thing that we want too much, a good thing that takes the place of the greatest thing – God.

So, you might be an ‘idolater’ if…

– You are crushed when you don’t get what you want
– You stake your happiness on getting what you want
– You grumble and complain when you don’t have what you want
– You demand what you want

Idols are terrible ‘masters’. They demand our love, thoughts, affections, time, dreams, and desires. But, they never satisfy, never deliver as promised. Idols always leave us in a state of disease discontentment.

The solution is to put off idolatrous desires. We are commanded “to put off your old self, which belongs to your form or manner of life and his corrupt through deceitful desires” [ Ephesians 4:22 ].

Contentment and idolatry do not mix well. Putting off idolatrous desires is the first step toward contentment. However, the sweet fruit of contentment can only blossom after you have ripped out the ‘weeds’.

John Calvin nailed it when he said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” So, make sure you ‘rid’ yourself of idols!

GOD HELPS US OVERCOME
We become content by not adding to our possessions and pleasures, but by subtracting from our desires, carving them down until they equal what are lovingly heavenly father chooses to provide us. Worldly people are restless because they always desire more. Such was the case for the wealthiest man in history, John D Rockefeller, who relentlessly built an empire that controlled 90% of the oil industry in the United States. When asked,“how much is enough?” His famous reply was, quote just a little bit more.”

Contented believers have learned to carve down their desires until they match what God wants for them. Worldly ambitions for money, fame, power, and glittering possessions, drive one’s ‘heart’ inexorably toward deep discontentment.

The famous sculptor Michelangelo was asked how he turned a lifeless block of stone into the magnificent masterpiece of David. He replied, “It is easy. I just chip away all the stone that doesn’t look like David.” In a way, the contentment of believers are like skillful ‘sculptors’ who learned to sculpt away from their expectations everything that doesn’t line up with gods word and God providential purposes for their life. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” [ Psalm 37:4 ]. (A mature believer knows that this really means, “take delight in Jesus, and he will ‘become’ your heart’s desire.”)

Discontentment is a problem as old as time. God had created Adam and Eve in perfect relationship with himself and each other. They lived in a beautiful world, free to eat from any tree except one. But they wanted precisely what they didn’t have!

‘DEFEATING’ DISCONTENTMENT
Again, ever since after the Garden of Eden, we have never been fully satisfied with anything on earth. We always want something different or something we don’t have—especially if someone else has it!

– If we are young, we want to be older. If we are old, we wish we were younger.
– If it is old, we want something new. If it is new, we want something newer.
– If it is small, we want something bigger. If it is big, we want something really big.
– If we have a hundred dollars, we want two hundred. If we have two hundred, we want five hundred.
– If we have an apartment, we want a condo. If we have a condo, we want a house. If we have a house, we want a bigger house. Or a new house. Or a nicer house. Or maybe we want to scale down and live in an apartment again.
– If we have a job, we dream of a better job, a bigger job, a closer job, a bigger office, a better boss, better benefits, more challenges, bigger opportunities, nicer people to work for, and more vacation time.
– If we are single, we dream of being married. If we are married, __________________ (fill in the blank yourself).

We were born discontented and some of us stay that way forever. Now, a certain amount of discontentment can be good for the soul. It is not wrong to have dreams about what the future might hold. The hope of something better ‘drives’ us forward and keeps us working, inventing, striving, creating, and innovating. BUT, most discontentment leads in the wrong direction. Here are five signs that discontentment is dragging you down spiritually:

– Envy Or Covetousness
– Grumbling Or Complaining
– Making Comparisons
– Bitterness And Anger
– Worry And Anxiety
– Uncontrolled Ambition
– Critical Spirit
– Complaining Spirit
– Outbursts of Anger

The discontented person looks around and says, “I deserve something better than this.” Because he is never happy and never satisfied, he drags others into the ‘swamp’ with him. No wonder Benjamin Franklin declared, “Contentment makes a poor man rich, discontent makes a rich man poor.”

Discontentment is the ‘cancer’ of the soul. It ‘eats away’ our joy, corrodes our happiness, destroys our outlook on life, and produces a terminal ‘jaundice’ of the soul so that everything looks negative to us. We cannot be happy because we have decided that we will not be happy. We cannot be satisfied because we will not be satisfied. Such a person is truly a lost soul—miserable today and miserable tomorrow [ Exactly like that family member I have been mentioning in the past few posts. ]

So how can we overcome this debilitating condition? Well, the Apostle Paul answered some specific questions related to this put to him by the believers in the church at Corinth. First Corinthians 7 contains some amazingly helpful insights about discontentment even though the word itself is never used. (We infer the question by studying the context.)

There are four principles that will help us face and overcome the problem of discontentment.

– You are where you are by God’s ‘assignment’ (1 Corinthians 7:17-24)
– Change is not wrong but it is not always an ‘improvement’ (1 Corinthians 7:25-28)
– Remember that you are a ‘visitor’ on earth, not a permanent resident (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)
– The most important thing is to give ‘undivided devotion’ to the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

For more detail, Puritan theologian Jeremiah Burroughs said that discontentment strikes right at the ‘heart’ of God’s character. When we question our circumstances, we doubt his wisdom and power. On the contrary, the content person will be able to say, “The Lord knows how to order things better than I. The Lord sees further than I do; I only see things at present but the Lord sees a great while from now. And how do I know but that had it not been for this affliction, I should have been undone.”

However, Burroughs doesn’t leave us without hope. More than simply diagnosing discontentment, he instructs us how to ‘fight’ it. Here are four ways:

– Hate Sin
We must attack discontentment at its ‘root’—and expel it from our hearts by moving our focus away from our suffering.

Burroughs said, “The way of contentment is to add another burden, that is, to labor to load and burden your heart with your sin; the heavier the burden of your sin is to your heart, the lighter will the burden of your affliction be to your heart, and so you shall come to be content.”

– Look Ahead To Eternity
we are not long in this world (70-80 years, on average). If all our energy is spent fretting about our life here, what energy will remain to contemplate the life to come?

“A godly man in the midst of the waves and storms that he meets with can see the glory of heaven before him and so contents himself. One drop of the sweetness of heaven is enough to take away all the sourness and bitterness of all the afflictions in the world.”

Any hardship here is bearable when we know, with the Apostle Paul, that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” [ 2 Corinthians 4:17 ].

– Embrace Humility
A man who is little in his own eyes will account for every affliction as little, and every mercy as great.

Discontentment springs from unmet expectations [ FYI: See last month’s post for more details on expectations. ] We think we deserve an easy life, with comforts and luxuries, so we become discontent when instead we face sickness and hardship. Yet, if we soberly examine ourselves in light of Scripture, we will see we deserve nothing but condemnation from God!

Such humility allows His grace to flood our ‘hearts’. We can rejoice in the gifts He has given us, rather than dwelling on what we think He has withheld.

–Rely on the Word
Regularly immersing ourselves in the Bible enables us to see and grasp these promises, and draw strength from seeing how faithfully God has kept his word in the past. they are our anchor in the fiercest tempest.

So, how can a believer grumble when they have grand promises like these?:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” [ Matthew 11:28-30 ].

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” [ Romans 8:28 ].

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” [ 2 Corinthians 5:17 ].

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” [ 1 Peter 1:3-4 ].

Even though discontentment is timeless, there are unique ways it manifests in our era. Because we have many more choices, we constantly feel like there must be something better out there if only we can find it. Our hearts are then restless and ‘hungry’.

Too often we Christians adopt the world’s standards. We feel entitled to what everyone around us has—comforts, money, and freedoms. However, the believer should expect suffering, hardships, and persecution (verses)

So, along with Burroughs, let’s create a better vision than the grumbling and self-pity of this world. Let’s adjust our eyes to the radiant beauty of contentment:

“There is no work which God has made—the sun, moon, stars, and all the world—in which so much of the glory of God appears as in a man who lives quietly in the midst of adversity.”

So, the only thing that REALLY matters is ‘knowing’ Jesus and through Him, growing closer to God day by day. If we know God in Jesus, then we are of all people most blessed and highly favored (Ephesians 1:3). If we don’t know Jesus, then the rest of life won’t satisfy our deepest longings anyway. Jesus must be the center of life or else the circumference will never satisfy.

Seen in this light—as mentioned previously—discontentment is a grievous sin because it is an attempt to ‘overthrow’ God. It is an attack on His sovereignty. When you complain against the Lord, you are repeating Satan’s mistake. (It is the first great rebellion played out in your own heart. Note that you will not be any more successful than Lucifer was!)

A great deal of our problems in this area stems from the fact that we don’t really know ‘WHO’ God is. Too many of us have an “Americanized” God who is sympathetic, democratic, and eager to make us happy. He adjusts his plans to fit our needs and lives to bring us to “self-actualization” and personal fulfillment. (It may surprise some people to discover that the biblical picture is quite different.)

With regard to His sovereignty, the God of the Bible is an ‘autocrat’; a divine despot who does whatever pleases Him. As the Creator, He has the final word regarding everything in the universe.

Americans love democracy. They like to talk about the “voice of the people,” the “will of the people,” and how the majority rules. However, the universe is not a democracy. It is a theocracy and divine monarchy. God doesn’t give us a ‘vote’. He doesn’t poll the universe to see what His next move should be. We dare not ‘murmur’ against the Master of the universe!

So, if one is ‘truly’ SURRENDERED to the Lord, and if they have any true concept of what “lordship” really means, this is what they should be saying: “Jesus Christ is my Lord. I will do what he says. He has the absolute right to my life. He has the unchallenged right to direct my affairs. He places me where he wants me. And my response is unqualified, absolute, unquestioning submission.” [ That is what the Apostle Paul means when he declares that whether we live or die, we belong to Jesus (Romans 14:8) ]

Once this principle is understood, one’s true position will become evident. One of the most beloved Christmas carols says, “O come, let us adore him.” That is one’s calling and their proper response to the great truth of God’s absolute sovereignty over ALL the details of life.

A believer was NOT saved to be ‘independent’. They WERE made to ‘serve’ someone.

[ VIDEO: “Gotta Serve Somebody” – Bob Dylan ]

ALL believers make a choice. Jesus ‘bought’ them with His own blood and He GAVE ‘EVERYTHING’ to set them free from sin!

So, the question is, will I continue to complain about ‘little’ stuff, or will I now serve Him with all my heart?

Yielding oneself to Him completely is the ONLY WAY to be ‘FREE’. As long as one demands their freedom to do whatever they want, they will ALWAYS be in ‘CHAINS’. HOWEVER, if they allow Jesus to make them free, they will be free indeed (John 8:36).

COUNT YOUR ‘BLESSINGS’!
As has been mentioned, complaining is almost always rooted in a faulty sense of rights and privileges. Each of us has a lengthy list of things that we think we deserve. Then, when life starts to ‘short circuit’—and we don’t get what we deserve—we start complaining. We imagine ourselves as the injured party who has every right to complain. We do not think we should have to endure hardship, and so we grumble about everything—even God.

The thing is, the Bible makes it VERY clear that, without Jesus’ atonement for our sins, the ONLY thing that we truly ‘deserve’ is HELL! We have all ‘rebelled’ against God telling Him we can ‘run’ our own lives, so He can stop ‘bothering’ us. We have ‘gorged’ on His blessings—like sunshine, food, water, and the like—but want nothing to do with Him ‘personally’.

The thing is, God owes us nothing except justice. The fires of Hell would be the right destinations for ungrateful, arrogant ‘rebels’ like us. We have been disobedient, rebellious, hard-hearted people. We do not deserve relaxation, a nice house, or a monthly paycheck. What we ‘deserve’ is Hell.

However, the beauty of the Gospel is that we get what we don’t deserve. Instead of justice, we receive mercy. Instead of wrath, we receive grace. God has forgiven the believer, adopted them, ‘clothed’ them in righteousness, given them the Holy Spirit, and promises them Heaven for eternity!

We may not get what we desire, but we have immeasurably more than we deserve. In his book, “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment,” Jeremiah Burroughs makes the following statement:

“So I’m a say to a Christian: are you the King’s son, the son, the daughter of the King of Heaven, and yet so disquieted and troubled, and vexed at every little thing that happens? As if a King’s sun were to cry out that he is undone for losing a toy; what an unworthy thing this would be! So do you colon you cry out as if you were undone and yet are a King’s son, you who stand in relation to God, as if either he had not wisdom, or power, or mercy enough to provide for you.”

When we complain, we are loudly saying that the blessings of the Gospel are not enough. We are saying that the death of Jesus is not enough. We are saying that the eternal fellowship with God the father, purchased at great cost, is not enough to satisfy our souls. We are saying that forgiveness of sins in peace with God, but not that nice. We are saying that God “has not wisdom, or power, or mercy enough” to provide for us. We are saying that God himself, who is the very definition of goodness, is not good enough. We would like a little something more, if you don’t mind. God plus ____________________ (insert your desire here) should do the trick. When we complain, we accuse God of being stingy, and not giving us enough.

So, when the lie of “I’m not getting what I deserve” starts to ‘simmer’ within a believer, just remember that Hell is what you deserve, and Heaven is what you received!

Maybe the Puritan prayer, “The Mover,” will help you with this concept:

“O SUPREME MOVING CAUSE,

May I always be subordinate to thee,
be dependent upon thee,
be found in the path where thou dost walk,
and where thy Spirit moves,
take heed of estrangement from thee,
of becoming insensible to thy love.
Thou dost not move men like stones,
but dost endue them with life,
not to enable them to move without thee,
but in submission to thee, the first mover.
O Lord, I am astonished at the difference
between my receivings and my deservings,
between the state I am now in and my past
gracelessness,
between the heaven I am bound for and
the hell I merit.
Who made me to differ, but thee?
for I was no more ready to receive Christ
than were others;
I could not have begun to love thee hadst thou not
first loved me,
or been willing unless thou hadst first made me so.
O that such a crown should fit the head of such
a sinner!
such high advancement be for an unfruitful
person!
such joys for so vile a rebel!
Infinite wisdom cast the design of salvation
into the mould of purchase and freedom;
Let wrath deserved be written on the door of hell,
But the free gift of grace on the gate of heaven.
I know that my sufferings are the result of my
sinning,
but in heaven both shall cease;
Grant me to attain this haven and be done
with sailing,
and may the gales of thy mercy blow me safely
into harbour.
Let thy love draw me nearer to thyself,
wean me from sin, mortify me to this world,
and make me ready for my departure hence.
Secure me by thy grace as I sail across this
stormy sea.”

I’m thinking that we should be astonished at the difference between our ‘deservings’ and our ‘receivings’, and astonished to where our gratefulness ‘crowds out’ our discontentedness. If we are not astonished, I’m thinking that something needs to be ‘rearranged’ in our hearts!

BEING ‘GRATEFUL’
Especially here in America, we shouldn’t be discontent at all. Even when ‘bad’ things happen to us, they usually don’t last too long and don’t usually affect one’s life long-term.

Comparatively, we must all be grateful for these things (for most people):

– Long life (On average)
– Heath (All one’s ‘parts’; Medical ‘system’)
– Food (Three meals a day; Choice)
– Water (Provided into our homes)
– Shelter (Protected from the ‘elements’; Utilities; Heated/cooled)
– Possessions (Clothes; Furniture; Car(s); ‘Toys’)

While preaching a sermon, Charles Spurgeon said, “I have heard of some good old woman in a cottage, who had nothing but a piece of bread and a little water. Lifting up her hands, she said as a blessing, ‘What, All this, and Christ, too!’” The old woman understood that in Christ she had everything and everything in addition to Christ’s pure blessing.

I’ve got to believe that everyone reading this blog post (since you have access to the Internet) has ‘FAR’ MORE than just a piece of bread and a little water. SO, let me suggest that we ALL (me included) start to count our blessings and thank the God that gave them to us!

FINDING CONTENTMENT IN ‘SUFFERING’
Affliction is the greatest test of our contentment. When our world is falling apart, trust in God’s sovereignty wavers, and a peaceful frame of mind becomes unsettled. Our faith is challenged. We learn then the depth of our contentment.

When sickness comes, when tests reveal the spot to be cancer, when we lose our job, when a child passes away, when our good name is unjustly defamed, how do we respond?

The Apostle Paul had learned the ‘secret’ of being content in any and every situation in life—and the root of his response to suffering is his recognition that affliction IS ‘inevitable’.

We must recognize the inevitability of suffering and hardship. On the one hand, all suffer. Sickness, failed relationships, death of loved ones, failures, and setbacks are inescapable. They are simply part of life in a fallen world. However, believers will face persecution of different kinds. Accepting the reality of suffering is a large part of the battle to find contentment in the midst of our afflictions.

We can learn much from studying the Apostle Paul—who has an overwhelming resume of suffering–and his reactions to his afflictions:

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice”
[ Philippians 1:12-18 ].

Additionally, Paul said elsewhere: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” [ 2 Corinthians 4:17 ], and “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” [ Romans 8:18 ].

So, the lessons we learn from Paul here are:

– Contentment Comes By Turning Our Afflictions Into Mercies
– Contentment Comes By Performing The Work Of Our Circumstances
– Contentment Comes By Melting Our Will And Desires Into Christ’s Will And Desires
– Contentment Comes By Seeking The Good Of Others In The Midst Of Our Affliction

The more that we really believe that our sufferings don’t begin to compare to our future glory, the more content we will be in our sufferings. As Jesus said to His persecuted followers: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” [ Matthew 5:15 ]. So, the more we sacrificially live for God’s glory now, the greater our capacity will be to enjoy that glory in Heaven!

Now, I don’t want to offer any ‘trite’ answers, because many people have endured things like tragic deaths and are enduring chronic illnesses and world-shattering events. I also don’t want to tell you that just because you trust in God, everything will be better. I just want to ‘point’ you to the Creator that fully understands all of this, and a Savior who REALLY understands suffering!

Jesus, the Son of God, suffered more than ANY other person in history—since He was ‘punished’ for ALL the sins of God’s ‘children’. He understands pain and sorrow in a way that none of us ever will. So, He is perfectly ‘qualified’ to help those who are suffering. “For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted” [ Hebrews 2:18 ].

God understands what you are going through: physical pain, financial issues, loneliness, abandonment, depression, etc. He also “puts [your] tears in a bottle.”

When one is going through intense suffering, the more natural question to ask is, “Who, O Lord, did You allow this to happen to me?” Well, the following suggestions might help you with some kind of answer:

– Ask for God’s wisdom (James 1:5)
– Rest in God’s goodness (Genesis 49:23-24)
– Expect suffering (John 16:33)
– Acknowledge your limited perspective (Isaiah 55:8-9; Corinthians 2:7)
– Except that suffering can sanctify you (Romans 3:24-25)
– Anticipate your eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Peter 5:4)

Now, why God allows suffering is a huge subject and a bit of a ‘deep mystery’. [ There are many great books on this. ] Again, the Apostle Paul tells us that God is harnessing all your suffering for your good (Romans 8:28), and He IS NOT making you ‘squirm’ to see how you will react. God will be with you in your ‘hurricane’ and bring goodness out of it!

Even though we go through ‘things’ here on earth, Scripture tells us not to lose heart. Because, “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” [ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ].

Bible scholar Ligon Duncan said this about this passage: “Your suffering prepares you for a glory that you cannot even comprehend. If you were not being held up by God in your affliction now, you could not bear the glory that He is going to bestow upon you.”

So, outwardly we are ‘disintegrating’ but, if you are a believer, God is doing something special ‘inwardly’—preparing you for Heaven, in which you will receive jaw-dropping blessings that you couldn’t have received unless you suffered here on earth. There will also be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” [ Revelation 21:4b ].

Contentment will happen when, through faith, you see the ‘treasure’ awaiting you!

When one is suffering, they are forgetting that Heaven awaits them. The strife that they are experiencing will soon be a memory. Now, don’t misunderstand me. God wants His children to experience good health right now here on earth—so it is right and good to ask God to deliver you from your ‘painful’ situations. Just don’t ‘hang’ your ultimate hope on deliverance in the here and now, because even if you are delivered from suffering, another will soon come your way. Your ULTIMATE ‘HOPE’ is in Jesus and arriving in Heaven when all these battles will be over!

So, fix your eyes on Heaven! You CAN be content now because, if you are a believer, you know that very soon all of your longings WILL be satisfied! You CAN find contentment in the little that you have here on earth because you know of the riches that await you in Heaven, and you can contently endure suffering now because you know that soon Jesus will wipe away EVERY ‘TEAR’!

PROVIDENCE
What does providence mean? In short, it refers to God’s work in which he upholds, governs, and sustains all things by His infinite power.

The definition from the Heidelberg Catechism says it very well (in its section on the Lord’s Day):

“God’s providence is
his almighty and ever present power,
whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds
heaven and earth and all creatures,
and so governs them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and barren years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
riches and poverty,
indeed, all things,
come to us not by chance
but by his fatherly hand.”

When the Bible says be content with what you have, it basically is saying, “Be content with what God has given you.” In other words, ‘rest’ in God’s providence. This becomes pivotal to our pursuit of contentment. A heart that is content is a heart that rests in God’s providence.

One of the symptoms of discontent is complaining against circumstances. When the nation of Israel was making the trek from Egypt to the Promised Land, the people were unhappy with the food choices. They began grumbling and complaining (Exodus 16:1). But to whom were they grumbling? Moses admonished them, “Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord” [ Exodus 16:8 ]. In the New Testament, Jesus reminded His disciples that no amount of worrying can bring change (Matthew 6:27).

Suppose circumstances have fallen out in a way that you did not anticipate. You are unhappy, impatient, and restless. You want things to be different. So, do you really believe that providence should change its course to suit you? Can you make one hair on your head black or white with all your frustration and worry? (Well, no!). Puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs drew this comparison:

“When you are in a ship at sea which has all its sails spread with a full gale of wind, and is swiftly sailing, can you make it stand still by running up and down in the ship? No more can you make the providence of God alter and change its course with your vexing and fretting; it will go on with power, do what you can. Do but understand the power and efficacy of providence and it will be a mighty means helping you to learn this lesson of contentment.”

So, are you discontent? Well, you could think in terms of three main ‘categories’: things that are happening, that have happened, and that will happen.

If we are grumbling about something we are going through ‘right now’ (the present), we are arguing ‘with’ God. We are saying that we shouldn’t have to endure this. We are essentially saying that God is getting it wrong. Such discontent questions God’s wisdom, goodness, and power.

If we are grumbling about something that we ‘went through’ (the past), we are basically saying that God ‘failed’ us. Many people live under a ‘cloud’ of their past hardships, and became bitter. Over time, they revisit and analyze their situations from the perspective of a ‘victim’, increasingly feeding their bitterness (like my family member did). One cannot be content in the present when they are nursing bitterness from the past.

If we are grumbling about something that is ‘going to happen’ (the future), we are essentially saying that God isn’t going to get it right. Sadly, many people sit in ‘bondage’ worrying about the future and lose the joy of contentment in the present.

So, the central ‘issue’ with many people is if they can REALLY ‘trust’ God—wholeheartedly. Well, let’s consider what the Apostle Paul said about this: “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” [ Romans 8:32 ].

IF you can trust God to take care of the BIGGEST ‘issues’—sin and death—then you CAN trust Him to take care of you in the ‘secondary’ matters—EVERYTHING ELSE!

SO, ‘rest in God’s providence!

A FEW ‘TIPS’ FOR OVERCOMING
When we understand what discouragement is, it helps us to begin to practice overcoming it. Here are some ‘tips’ that can be used to overcome discouragement.

– ‘Acknowledge’ That You Are Discouraged
Often, we can move on from feeling disappointed, but sometimes, when our struggle is particularly tough, we get stuck. That is when discouragement sets in and we need to admit that we are having feelings of doubt. We need to admit our hurts, mistakes or setbacks and acknowledge self-doubt. It is not a failure to examine the truth about how we are feeling.

– Talk With A Trusted ‘Friend’
It’s okay to cry out loud about how sad you are with an outcome. It is okay to process feelings of guilt. It helps us move on instead of languishing in sadness for too long.

– Consume Encouraging ‘Stories’
It is powerful, spiritual medicine to read about others’ hardships and how they overcame discouragement. Studying others’ triumphs lifts me up, keeps things in perspective, and helps me persevere instead of giving up. Some of my favorite inspiring stories are from the lives of Corrie Ten Boom, Anne Frank, Joni Eareckson Tada, and C.S. Lewis.

– ‘Encourage’ Someone Else
I know this is a hard one when you feel sad. But when we look to others’ needs and see that we can help, it brings a source of encouragement to us and to them. Sometimes buying someone coffee, listening to their story or a kind word can make a huge difference. Encouragement is powerful!

– Accept That You ‘Cannot Control’ Everything
This is hard to do, but essential to move on from situations that are not going our way. If we try to maintain control when it is not possible, we can quickly become discouraged and move toward despair. When we let go of control, it strengthens our trust in God and frees us to reclaim our courage.

COURAGE
Some people become so discouraged that they struggle to move forward at all in their lives. The thing is, living takes ‘COURAGE’—the confidence to move ahead despite the very real risk that we might not succeed at what we try to accomplish.

Courage is “the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.” The term originates from an old French term “corage,” meaning “to take heart.” (“Coeur” is contemporary French for “heart.”)

As mentioned above (Joseph and Caleb), in many places throughout Scripture, God commands His people to take courage (Psalm 27:14; 31:24; 2 Chronicles 32:7; Deuteronomy 31:6). When God selected Joshua to replace Moses as the leader of the Israelites, some of His first words to Joshua were “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” [ Joshua 1:9 ]. The Lord based this command upon His previous promise to Joshua: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” [ Joshua 1:6 ]. The Lord knew Joshua was going to face some big battles, and He did not want His servant to become discouraged.

It takes courage to do something ‘unknown’—like overtaking an ‘enemy’—or even just to develop a new skill, try out for a sports team, or to take a college course. It takes courage to patiently explain to your son why he cannot take the car before he has his license, or to reach out to touch your spouse on the hand during a disagreement.

It requires a degree of courage any time we attempt to do something where a potential for failure or partial failure exists. Discouragement, on the other hand, is the lack—or loss—of that will to push on in the face of risks. Discouragement keeps us from trying things that might not turn out as we hope. It dissuades us from moving forward and keeps us right where we are.

So, where does one get this courage to take on new challenges and opportunities? Well, courage is NOT the absence of fear or concern. It is just a way of thinking, determining that some risks are simply worth taking, with the potential gains from success outweighing the risks of not succeeding.

Thankfully, courage IS a skill that is developed through effort and hard work. Often the hardest part is simply tolerating and accepting the possibility of not accomplishing all we hope to.

FAITH
Faith and discouragement are polar opposites. If one believes ‘fully’ and completely that God’s work of transformation has taken place in them, then there is NO reason for them to be discouraged! “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” [ Hebrews 11:6 ].

The faith described here must be deeper than just believing that God exists. One must believe that, “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” This can truly help you in your life. One must believe that if they live according to the will of God and battle against sin and their own lusts, that He can do a work of transformation within them. “But now it comes upon you, and you are weary; it touches you, and you are troubled” [ Job 4:5 ].

So, how can one break free from discouragement? Well, ‘arm’ yourself with faith. Use faith as a ‘weapon’ against discouragement, (which comes from doubt): “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” [ Ephesians 6:16 ].

If you follow your own reasoning, you will be overtaken by discouragement quite quickly. “The shield of faith” is not merely believing in God’s existence, but in God’s power which is able to perform miracles in anyone. Irrespective of personality, my past, and my nature, anyone—including me—can become totally different with God’s help. God is mighty to do miracles. Faith in this should be your ‘weapon’!

SATAN’S ‘LIES’
The ‘world’ is setting a ‘trap’ for us—no matter how much we have it doesn’t seem like enough. The thing is, material things CANNOT satisfy our deepest needs.

However, behind the ‘scenes’ it is REALLY NOT the ‘world’ but the “god of this world”—Satan—who is setting the trap for us. He is ‘baiting’ us with the thought that the God in Heaven has not yet given us what we really need to be happy in life, In fact, this was that lie that he used to entice the first woman into the first sin—a ‘foundational’ lie that led to EVERY other sin since that time. It is a lie that is built on the feeling of ‘DISCONTENTMENT’. It is the lie that says you don’t have what you really need to be happy in life.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

“The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’”
[ Genesis 3:1-5 ].

Now, God had said they could have eaten of any of the trees n that Garden (possibly thousands), however, He said they could not eat from ‘JUST’ one. So, what does Satan do? Of course, he says to Eve that if she wants to be happy in life—to be totally fulfilled—then those thousands of trees WILL NOT be enough. What she ‘needed’ was that fruit from that ‘ONE’ tree—then she will experience happiness to the greatest extent ever!

The thing is, Satan says the same thing to us today. He ‘temps’ us with this lie: “To be ‘really’ happy in life you need to live in ‘that’ size of a home, drive ‘that’ kind of car, earn ‘that’ amount of income, have ‘that’ mate, etc. You have waited a long time, and it looks like God isn’t going to give you what you need any time soon!”

So then, what happens when we fall into that ‘deception’ that we don’t have enough yet? Well, James has a bit to say about that: “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” [ James 3:16 ]. When we fail to be grateful for what we have, our ‘hearts’ will be filled with discontent. However, he does offer a ‘solution’: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you” [ James 4:7 ].

James is saying to ‘run’ away with everything you have, since Satan is promoting a false ‘value system’—one that equates money with success, sex with love, and power with purpose. So, the thing is, when you fall for that, all that happens is a continual increase in your ‘craving’ for more and more! Those increased cravings will not only promote ‘turmoil’ in you, but will also promote dissension and chaos in your relationships—because you will continue to ‘clamor’ for what other people have, making you even more ‘discontented’! (A vicious circle!)

San Antonio Spurs star David Robinson was watching Michael Jordan embrace the Chicago Bulls’ first championship trophy, and he later commented:

“Here I am with five cars, two houses, and more money than I ever thought I’d have. What more could I ask for? But, here’s Michael Jordan. He has more than me and, boy, I’d like to have some of the things he has… “What I had should have been plenty, but no matter how much I had, it didn’t seem like enough because material things can’t satisfy your deepest needs. Is the world setting a trap for us?”

I’m thinking Robinson is seeing the ‘light’ a bit. So, think about it this way: Satan’s discontent with his ‘situation’ in Heaven led to pride and independent thinking that then eventually led to him to be ‘thrown out’ of Heaven (Luke 38:4-7; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-18).

The thing is, Satan was called “Lucifer” in Heaven, which means “bearer of light,” was the greatest of all of the angels. However, one day Satan said to himself that he was no longer content in being “second banana” for the rest of his existence, and that he wanted the ‘top job’—to be in the ‘big chair’ running the universe. So, because of his discontent, he launched a rebellion against God with one-third of the angels in Heaven at that time (who were also thrown out of Heaven).

The question for me is what made Satan even think he was capable of, first, running the universe, and second, overthrowing God. Again, it all comes down to DISCONTENT that turned into PRIDE:

“Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings”
[ Ezekiel 28:17 ].

You see, Satan looked at himself and said something like, “You know, I am a pretty good-looking angel and I’ve got a lot of smarts, so I’m thinking I could easily do things better than God has done.” What Satan ‘forgot’—because he was ‘deluded’—was that he was a ‘creature’ and not the ‘Creator’, and EVERYTHING he possessed was given to him by God.

Another one of Satan’s ‘tricks’ is to keep one from taking responsibility for our actions—something we already discussed—‘blaming’ God or others for our discontent. The thing is, whenever we blame God or others for our ‘predicaments’ it leads to the ‘blindfold called bitterness (The exact feelings that family member—that I have mentioned in the past few posts—expressed for God and others). This then holds us ‘hostage’ to those patterns of behavior that led to our predicament in the first place!

So, Satan’s ‘MO’ is to tell you that you have been ‘mistreated’ by God (and other people) for not giving you what you need to be ‘happy’ in life, therefore, you need to take control of your own life. The thing is, this IS a BIG ‘LIE’, and it will only lead to bitterness and discontent!

The thing is, ‘human’ resources alone can never defeat Satan, however, ‘divine’ resources can. That is why it is crucial to understand the resources you have that ensure your victory over him.

Primarily, within the believer ‘resides’ the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), who strengthens you and accomplishes more than you can ask or think (Ephesians 3:16, 20). Even though Satan’s attacks are subtle, cunning, and deceitful, and it is impossible to analyze and anticipate his every offense, focus on strengthening your defenses every day to give you strength and confidence. When we bring our bodies under subjection, walk in wisdom, press toward the prize, cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and live in the fear and admonition of God, He will supply the resources we need when we supply the effort.

The Bible tells us to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might…For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10, 12), and to “Stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11 ).

Every battle has an offensive and defensive strategy. The believer’s offensive strategy is taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), and their defensive strategy is to rely on Christ’s strength and “put on our spiritual armor” (Ephesians 6:11). So, the believer CAN ‘combat’ Satan’s lies with God’s spiritual ’armor’:

– The Belt of Truth (Knowing God’s Word)
– The Breastplate of Righteousness (Guarding your min and emotions)
– The Shoes of Peace (Standing firm with the Gospel)
– The Shield of Faith (Trusting God)
– The Helmet of Salvation (Repelling doubt and discouragement)
– The Sword of the Spirit (The Word of God — the Bible)

[ FYI: For more details on the “armor of God,” view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/ready-for-battle-v235/ ].

Satan knows he can’t destroy God, so his next best tactic is to destroy God’s ‘children’—causing adversity in their lives. So, Satan will take EVERY opportunity, however small and seemingly insignificant, to attempt to ‘destroy’ a lifetime of faithfulness to God—so, believer, STAY ON GUARD!

Satan will try to distract us from healthy spiritual behaviors, and tempt us with bad behaviors. If Satan can distract us from the spiritually productive priorities in our life and occupy us with the ‘things’ of this world, his intervention will be successful. If we are too busy to pray, to study the Bible, to serve others, and to attend church—then we will not grow spiritually, and remain ‘babes’ in Christ.

Satan is NOT ‘AFTER’ those who ‘belong’ to him (unbelievers), he concentrates his efforts on those who want to ‘defeat’ him (followers of Jesus). Satan’s purpose is to weaken the influence of believers in the culture.

Know that Satan has a ‘strategy’ for every believer. He knows their strengths and weaknesses, and he will stop at nothing if he thinks he can ‘victimize’ a believer for his own purposes. There tend to be five ‘major’ areas that one will struggle with Satan in:

– He wants you to be DECEIVED
– He wants you to be COMPROMISED
– He wants you to be COMPLACENT
– He wants you to be ISOLATED
– He wants you to be DISCOURAGED

So then, just remember these truths:

– The believer has a ‘calling’ that cannot be revoked
– The believer has an ‘inheritance’ that cannot be defiled
– The believer has a ‘foundation’ that cannot be shaken
– The believer has a ‘seal’ that cannot be broken
– The believer has a ‘life’ that cannot perish

Also, remember that for the believer:

– Satan is a ‘defeated’ foe
– You have the power to ‘resist’ Satan
– “Greater is He [Jesus/Holy Spirit] who is in you than he [Satan] who is in the world” (1 John 4:4)

SATAN’S ‘TEMPTATIONS’
In Genesis, we are told that Eve’s heart ‘desired’ something. She was ‘tempted’ by a promise of more. She ‘lusted’ after the ‘shiny object’ that falsely promised life, satisfaction, and liberty. But, like a holiday fruitcake in beautiful packaging, the thing so much hyped and so much desired sorely disappoints. False promises only leave us wanting more, and they will NEVER ‘deliver’.

Adam and Eve faced ‘lures’ of temptation, with Satan using them to keep them from God.

The Apostle John alerts us to these lures to help us better understand the battle for contentment. He does not want us to be enticed by colorful ‘decoys’ or ‘shiny objects’. Instead, he wants us to rest in the sufficiency of God and find ourselves satisfied in Him alone: “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world” [ 1 John 2:16 ].

John first warns us about “the desires of the flesh.” These are the cravings of a fallen human nature that seeks to live independently from God and find satisfaction in ‘seated’ things. The ‘flesh’ is considered the seat of opposition to God within our ‘fallen’ nature. We see how the desires of the flesh give ‘birth’ to the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

This verse shows us that worldliness expresses itself through the desire of the flesh, which craves self-fulfillment independently of God. This is the default human condition since we were banished from the Garden of Eden.

Now, mark this key point: Discontentment happens when you believe you do not have what you need. However, if we are truly content with God, the lust of the flesh is ‘stymied’. If, like Adam and Eve, we fail to believe God’s promises, rejoice in God’s provision, and delight in God’s person, we too will be ‘trapped’ on a vicious cycle of discontentment.

Next, the Apostle John warns about “the desires of the eyes.” The eyes of the soul become fixed on ‘created’ things as a means to fulfillment and purpose.

Now, the tenth commandment instructs us not to ‘covet’. Confusing our wants with our needs goes to the heart of coveting and explains why we are so often driven by the desire for more and more. We fail to see that life’s greatest fulfillment is not found in accumulating things but in knowing God.

The tenth commandment may seem like an ‘add-on’ compared to such big-ticket items as murder, stealing, lying, and adultery, but it is ‘foundational’ to ALL the other commandments, and ensures peace and contentment. It is the only command that zeroes in on a forbidden attitude rather than an action. Yet it is a safeguard against the temptation to break the other nine commandments.

King David’s covetous desire for another man’s wife led to adultery, stealing, and murder (2 Samuel 11), and a desire for more and more pleasure, power, or possessions can destroy family relationships and cause us to lie to others—because covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5), and it keeps us from having and maintaining a right relationship to God.

However, when our eyes ‘latch onto’ what others have, we become discontent with what we have been given by God, and jealously desire more. The heart craves what the eyes see and our natural vision can deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9). To obey the tenth commandment is to be content, even rejoicing in what God has graciously given us. The believer can thwart the schemes of the Devil when they remember that the ‘path’ to contentment is not through the external and physical, but through the internal and the spiritual.

John then tells us that the final ‘lure’ is “the pride of life.” While the first two have to do with the desire for ‘things’, this one has to do with pride in what you already have. It is a pride rooted in ‘who’ we think we are as measured by what we possess or have accomplished. In context, such pride is baseless.

Surely you have felt the type of lure, since we all struggle, to some degree, with ‘boasting’ in ourselves and taking pride in things we have done or have. Our clamoring for attention is a ‘cry’ for legitimacy and acceptance. In other words, discontentment.

A contented spirit is a ‘quiet’ spirit. It does not need affirmation, validation, or amazement. A content person is able to sit quietly under the reassuring affirmation of God.

SATAN SAYS “IF I ‘GET’ IT, I WILL BE HAPPY”
All of us want ‘it’—that one thing that we are convinced will make us happy—and we lie in bed at night and fantasize about it.

Now, most of the time it is a really good thing that we want, and it is not wrong to want things. It is a LIE, however, to believe that getting the thing we want will ‘truly’ satisfy us.

Satan works together with the ‘world’ to deceive us—so we are not happy with God. They want us to frantically search for happiness in everything but God. So, they ‘whisper’ lies to us. They tell us that all our restlessness will be solved by a satisfying job, a new car, a new house, etc., and that happiness lives just around the corner—that our discontentment is the result of not having what we want.

HOWEVER, that simply is NOT ‘TRUE’. We will not be fully satisfied when we get what we want, because God loves us and wants us to find our satisfaction in Him, so He will not allow us to be satisfied like that.

SATAN SAYS “GOD IS ‘WITHHOLDING’ FROM ME”
The universe was thrown into chaos when men and women believed Satan’s first lie: “You will not surely die [when you eat the fruit]. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” [ Genesis 3:4-5 ].

Satan didn’t try to persuade Eve that eating the fruit was worth the consequences. Instead, he tried to assassinate God’s character. He told Eve that God was ‘holding out’ on her. In essence, he said, “If God was really good and really loved you, He would let you eat from the tree.” Satan persuaded Eve that God wasn’t treating her well. Satan ensnares us with the same lie today.

So, in those moments when we are particularly vulnerable—we get passed over for a promotion, etc.—we wonder if God is really good and really loves us. The truth is, God will never withhold good things from the believer. Just look at the greatest, irrefutable proof of God’s generosity—Calvary—when God gave up what was most precious to Him—His Son Jesus—so He could save sinners who hated God the Father. So, if God was willing to do that, will He not also give you every good thing that you need?

The Apostle Paul put it this way: “He who did not spare His own son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” [ Romans 8:32 ].

Puritan pastor John Flavel said this well:

“Surely if he [God] would not spare his own son one stroke, one tier, one grown, one side, one circumstance of misery, it can never be imagined that ever he should, after this, deny or withhold from his people, for who sakes all this was suffered, any mercies, any comforts, any privilege, spiritual or temporal, which is good for them.”

If we don’t have something we desire, it is not because God is withholding it from us. It may be that it is not good for us at this time—which He will then give it to us later—or, it is not good for us at all. God WILL NOT withhold any good thing from the believer!

SATAN SAYS “GOD ‘OWES’ ME”
You say that you have ‘given up’ a lot for God: _________________ (fill in the black with ALL those ’things’). No, you are certainly not perfect, but surely after all these years of faithful service, God ‘owes’ you something.

Well, Jesus said, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” [ Luke 17:10 ]. The thing is, God doesn’t ‘owe’ us ‘ANYTHING’! He is the Creator and we are His creation. We ‘owe’ Him ‘EVERYTHING’! If we were to obey him flawlessly for our entire lives, we would only be giving God what we owe him.

The discontented man complains because he is not getting what God ‘owes’ him. The contented man is astonished that God would bless him for doing his ‘duty’!

DON’T LET DISCONTENTMENT ‘DEFINE’ YOU
Discontentment DOES NOT have to ‘define’ you! Recognizing what causes discontentment helps us process and grow through our feelings, and at times, make the necessary changes. (A believer is defined by God’s love for us, not our feelings.)

If in the ‘natural’, things are out of our control, (which they often are) remember, things are never out of God’s control. We can’t control many situations, but we can control how we ‘PROCESS’ discontentment. “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
[ Mark 10:27 ].

Moments of doubt and discontentment help us grow closer to God and fully appreciate and embrace the life He offers. “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” [ Romans 15:4 ].

The word of God gives life and is the perfect ‘landing space’ for whatever you are facing today. “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” [ Isaiah 40:31 ].

‘GODLY’ CONTENTMENT
Nelson Rockefeller was once asked, “How much money does it take to make a person happy?” He reportedly answered, “Just a little bit more.” This frank response gives us an insight into the human soul. We are tempted to think that we would be happy with just a little bit more—though at times we are also tempted to admit that, in reality, happiness will require a LOT MORE!

Human beings always seem to want what they cannot have. This is true with jobs, houses, cars, even talents, and sometimes even spouses. The job we have never seems good enough, and the ideal job always seems just out of reach. Our houses are never big enough or never in just the right location—but we can’t quite get the one we want. The car we have is usually older and needs work done on it, whereas a new one wouldn’t require any ‘fixing up’. We recognize many of the talents that we have—and sometimes brag about them—but we have a nagging envy of another person’s abilities. The marriage divorce rate indicates that we are also looking for something more, too.

The problem is made worse by the fact that we think that if we just had the right job, house, car, talent, or spouse, we would be content. However, because these things are just ‘out of reach’, so is contentment—or so the world wisdom goes. The search for contentment tased on our circumstances in life creates a ‘restlessness’ and discontentedness.

The Apostle Paul did not think that life was about a constant search for something different:

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
[ Philippians 4:10-13 ].

Paul is saying that he ‘learned’ how to be content in any and all circumstances—he is content wherever he is. This passage teaches us several things about the nature of content for the believer:

– You CAN be content
– You need to LEARN contentment
– You need to learn contentment in EVERY situation
– Contentment IS “self-sufficiency”

Russian writer Leo Tolstoy wrote a story titled, “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” It is about a successful peasant farmer, Pahom, who was not satisfied with what he had and he wanted more—showing the power of discontentment and greed. (He thinks that if he only had enough land, he would not fear the Devil, but the Devil, who is in the kitchen with him, hears this and decides to test him.)

One day he received an offer from the Bashkir people, who own a huge amount of land. He can claim as much land as he wanted for 1,000 rubles a day. However, he must section off land by foot, mark his spots with a spade, and return to his starting point by sunset. Convinced that he will be able to claim as much land as he could ever imagine, he enthusiastically agrees to the proposition.

Equipped with a spade, some bread, and a flask of water, Pahom begins his walk at a fast pace and covers several miles of land despite the fierce heat. Around noon, he temporarily rests to have a small lunch, but continues walking at a rushed pace thereafter. Well into the afternoon, he realizes that his greed had taken him far away from his starting point, so he starts running, knowing that if he did not make it back to the starting point by sundown he would lose the opportunity to become an even bigger landowner.

As the sun began to sink below the horizon, he comes within sight of the finish line. Gasping for breath—with his heart pounding—he calls upon every bit of strength in his body and staggered across the line just before the sun disappeared. HOWEVER, he immediately collapsed, blood streaming from his mouth, and after a few minutes, he was dead. Afterward, his servant digs his grave—not much over six feet long and three feet wide.

Ironically, this answered the question posed by the title, as the narrator that closes the story remarks: “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”

So, the moral of the story is that excessive desire can make a person lose all that they already have, and constantly longing for things you don’t have is a sure way to guarantee that you will NEVER be happy. Happiness DOES come from being content with what one has.

SADLY, when we don’t get what we so desperately want, we throw a ‘temper tantrum’. Our passions rage within us. We become angry at God and are discontented with life. We grumble and complain, and happiness appears to be out of reach.

The Apostle Paul said that, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any in every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance in need” [ Philippians 4:11-13 ].

These words should startle us and cause us to catch our breath. Paul says that he has learned to be content in EVERY situation!

Paul found contentment in all of the seasons of his life and in all kinds of circumstances. He knew how to be brought low—and few people were brought lower than Paul. He was thrown into filthy prisons, savagely beaten with rods, stoned within a breath of death, whipped until his back was a bloody, dripping mess, driven out of cities, betrayed by friends, and shipwrecked on multiple occasions. In the midst of all of this, Paul found commitment! The difficulties faced by Paul make my life look like a Boy Scout campout.

Paul also knew how to be content in the midst of prosperity. Prosperity and commitment don’t always go together. In fact, they rarely do. Rich people are unhappy just like everyone else. (Members of the yacht club need to learn commitment, too.) Paul says of contentment, “Now there is a great gain in godliness with commitment” [1 Timothy 6:6].

All of this raises one enormous, potentially life-altering question: What is the secret to contentment?

Well, contentment is a disposition of the heart that freely enjoys being fully submitted to God’s will, whatever that may be.

Contentment is first and foremost a matter of the heart. It is possible to deny yourself every worldly pleasure and still be discontented. Self-denial doesn’t automatically lead to contentment. In fact, self-denial can cause us to miss opportunities to enjoy the wonderful gifts from God.

On the flip-side, it is possible to have everything this world has to offer, and still be extremely discontent. King Solomon’s life was a constant ‘pleasure cruise’. He really did have everything this world could offer—money, women, power, and luxury. Yet, after a life of hedonistic exploits, Solomon made the following observation: “Then I considered all my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, always vanity and us driving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” [ Ecclesiastes 2:11 ].

Having it all DOES NOT equal contentment! Rather, contentment is inward, untouchable by circumstances, and out of the reach of trouble. It cannot be stolen away by sickness or poverty, and cannot be ruined by the loss of a job, house, or spouse. ‘BIBLICAL’ contentment is not rooted in circumstances but in the infinitely stronger foundation of GOD HIMSELF! That’s why I called it “Godly Contentment.”

A truly contented person freely and joyfully submits to the will of God for their life. They do not ‘kick and scream’ against the will of God. They do not murmur and complain about a particular season or circumstance of life, and does not grumble about the things they do not have. The contented person is not jealous when they see others prospering, because they know that God is always good to them.

‘True’ contentment joyfully embraces both prosperity and pain as from the hand of God. Theologian Thomas Watson said:

“Whatever our condition is, God, the great empire of the world, has decreed that condition for us, and by his providence has ordered all things that go along with it. Let a Christian often think to himself, “who has placed me here, whether I am in a higher sphere or in a lower? Not chance or Fortune, as the totally blind Heathers imagined; no, it is the wise guy who has, by his province, fixed me in this orb.”

This classic old hymn written by Samuel Rodigast (and translated into English by Catherine Winkworth), says it well:

“Whate’er my God ordains is right:
his holy will abideth;
I will be still, whate’er he doth,
and follow where he guideth.
He is my God; though dark my road,
he holds me that I shall not fall:
wherefore to him I leave it all.

“Whate’er my God ordains is right:
he never will deceive me;
he leads me by the proper path;
I know he will not leave me.
I take, content, what he hath sent;
his hand can turn my griefs away,
and patiently I wait his day.

“Whate’er my God ordains is right:
though now this cup, in drinking,
may bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it, all unshrinking.
My God is true; each morn anew
sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
and pain and sorrow shall depart.

“Whate’er my God ordains is right:
here shall my stand be taken;
though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
yet am I not forsaken.
My Father’s care is round me there;
he holds me that I shall not fall:
and so to him I leave it all.”

Returning to Jeremiah Burroughs’ classic book, “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment,” pastor Tom Hicks summarized 20 ways that Burroughs describes contentment:

– Contentment is a sweet, inward matter of the heart. Many people appear to be calm on the outside, but inwardly, they are frantic emotional basket-cases. True contentment is an inward peace and calmness of the soul no matter what kinds of terrible trials and sufferings may be happening on the outside.

– Contentment doesn’t mean that you don’t feel the pain of your suffering. In fact, in order to learn contentment, you have to feel the pain of your sufferings. The pains and sorrows of whatever crosses you are bearing are the things God uses to teach you to find comfort in Christ. If you ignore the pain, belittle it, or mindlessly muscle your way through it, you will never learn the lesson of contentment in Christ.

– Contentment doesn’t mean you are not allowed to cry out to God and to your friends in Christ. It is only by crying out to God in faith and submission that you will find contentment. God brings you into a state of contentment through communion with Himself. And often, God uses godly friends to speak the truth to you in love, to remind you of the graces of Christ, and to comfort you in His love.

– Contentment doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to end your suffering. You should certainly seek every God-honoring and lawful means of ending the sufferings you are experiencing in life. Particularly, if an injustice is being committed against you, and it is causing you suffering, then it is your Christian duty to try to end it in any lawful way possible.

– Contentment means that you should not grumble under God’s good hand. If you are content, you will remember that God Himself has a hand in your suffering. Some people complain that God isn’t good or wise in what He does in their lives, and they think they know better than Him how their lives ought to be. But grumbling and complaining is forbidden because it fails to rest in the knowledge of God and receive His comfort and strength.

– Contentment means that you mustn’t become bitter or angrily lash out at God and others. Some get so deeply angry when trials come into their lives that they lash out at God and others. But God calls you to quietly accept His loving Fatherly rod of discipline. He kindly calls you to contentment for your own good.

– Contentment means that you are not distracted from your God-given duties. Some are so discontent in their trials that they neglect the responsibilities God gives them in life. They may begin to neglect family, church, or their job responsibilities because their present circumstances are so full of sorrow. But this isn’t how a Christian should respond to suffering. Often it is by doing what God calls you to do in a disciplined way that you can grow in contentment.

– Contentment means that you don’t neglect communion with Christ. It is possible for your fears and anxieties to become so great that you neglect vital union and communion with Jesus. But knowledge of Christ’s love and communion with Him is the very foundation of contentment and the source of peace with God and joy in this fallen world.

– Contentment doesn’t sink into dark discouragements. The believer who is content in God remembers God’s power and love, that He’s able to rescue sinners, to heal the sick, to make the blind see. God calls us to trust that He will deliver us from our sufferings in His time and in His way, according to His good pleasure.

– Contentment doesn’t sin to try to get relief from pain. Sometimes when things are particularly dark, Christians are tempted to find comfort in their sin. They look for a sinful escape or distraction from their trials. Or they may be tempted to believe false doctrine as a means of escaping their pain and fostering some false hope of temporal rescue. But Christ would have us to be content in Himself and to flee from sin and heresy.

– Contentment doesn’t rebel against God. When people are least content, they are often tempted to shake their fists in God’s face. They blame God and accuse Him for their troubles. They believe in the worst of Him for bringing trails into their lives. But God only has thoughts of love in everything He does to those who belong to Him. It isn’t from ill will that God brings suffering into the lives of His beloved children.

– Contentment is a grace that spreads through the whole person. That is, a content person’s thoughts, emotions, and will are all content in Christ. Sometimes people have a very hard time even understanding why they should be content in their situation. Other times, they may understand the reasons they should be content, but they have a very hard time actually feeling content. And still other times, people will not act with contentment. True contentment involves the whole man.

– Contentment comes from within, from the heart. It is possible for a person to warm up by a fire for a while, but he gets cold again when he leaves the warmth of the fire. Some people get temporary contentment by surrounding themselves with external arguments, with people, and with circumstances that make them feel content for a little while, but when their circumstances change, their contentment also leaves them. True contentment, however, radiates from within by the Spirit of Christ. Christian contentment isn’t conditioned upon outward circumstances.

– Contentment is a habitual character of the heart. Someone who has learned to be content has a habit and discipline of bringing his heart into a state of stable and peaceful contentment, even though the world around him is constantly changing. He practices contentment during lesser trials so that he is strong and able to practice contentment during greater trials.

– Contentment does not come from a naturally sturdy disposition. Some people have a natural ability to stabilize themselves by sheer force of will. They do this by dulling their emotions and distancing themselves from attachments to the world in a stoic way. But true godly contentment is not dull. The source of godly contentment is Christ. It longs for Him, trusts in Him, rejoices in Him, and wants to honor Him in all of life.

– Contentment submits to God’s sovereign will. A content person bows under God’s sovereign hand and submits to what God has ordained in his life. He acknowledges that God has appointed this hardship in life and so accepts it from God’s hand. A submissive Christian realizes that he is under authority, and he does not resist God’s authority.

– Contentment takes pleasure in God’s sovereign will. Far more than just submitting to God’s will, a content person knows that there must be good in what God has ordained. Burroughs wrote, “I find there is honey in this rock, and so I do not only say, I must, or I will submit to God’s hand. No, the hand of God is good, ‘it is good that I am afflicted.’”

– Contentment submits to every kind of affliction. For example, some people may be able to submit to God striking their own personal health. But they wouldn’t be able to stand God striking their spouse or their child. True contentment submits to all of God’s wise providences.

– Contentment submits to God’s timetable of affliction. Some would say, “This affliction has lasted too long. The affliction itself is bearable, but the length of time I’m required to endure this affliction is unbearable.” But true contentment acknowledges that God’s timetable is good and wise.

– Contentment submits to afflictions when many come at the same time. Some may say, “This one affliction is bearable all by itself, but it has come with so many other trails and troubles at the same time.” One suffering often comes with many other sufferings. But true contentment submits to God’s wisdom in bringing more than one kind of affliction at once.

So, if you are now convicted of your own discontentment—after reading that list—then the Law (the 10th commandment that declares you “shall not covet”) has done its most basic work. However, the law cannot save you or change you. The Law—which commands you to be—has no power to make you content. You cannot simply decide by ‘force of will’ that you are going to start keeping the Law and become more content.

Rather, you ‘NEED’ Someone to help and guide you—and that would be Jesus (and the Holy Spirit). It is only by really believing in Jesus’ perfect love for you, will you will be able to grow, little by little, into being ‘really’ content. It is when you purposely, and in a disciplined way, ‘draw near’ to Jesus from the heart, that you can learn to be content, and REAP the ‘BLESSINGS’ of it!

So, the question the contented believer should then be asking themselves is, “What is the ‘duty’ of my present circumstances?” (Then, carrying out that duty will be vital to both their faithfulness and contentment). Well, slave-trader-turned-Christian John Newton explained this well:

“If two angels were to receive at the same moment a commission from God, one to go down and rule earth’s grandest empire, the other to go and sweep the streets of its meanest village, it would be a matter of entire indifference to each which service fell to his lot, the post of ruler or the post of scavenger; for the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God’s will.”

The ‘secret’ of contentment is radically different from the thinking of the sinful man. The sinful heart says, “Get me into a situation in which I can be content.” The contented believer says, “Help me to be content in this situation and to perform the duty of it.”

Contentment does not mean that we face life without pain, but it DOES mean that in the midst of our affliction we are able to find peace in God’s sovereign control, melting our will into His.

So, how does one cultivate this most elusive of virtues? Well, with a little help from theologian D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones—in his exposition of Philippians—here are a few thoughts:

– Conditions and circumstances in life are always changing, therefore my satisfaction and joy must not be tied to circumstances. “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him in the midst of loss, not prosperity.” Thus, contentment comes when one gives up their will and their desires for Jesus’ will and desires, even when they struggle to understand their circumstances!

– What matters supremely in life is my soul and my relationship to God
Jesus’ death and resurrection is one’s only hope. Hope may be our most powerful ‘possession’. An old saying applies here: “Human beings can live 40 days without food, four days without water, and four minutes without air, but we can’t live four seconds without hope.” We have a sure and settled hope as the anchor of our souls (Hebrews 6:19).

– God is concerned about me as my Father, and nothing happens to me apart from His will. Even the hairs on my head are numbered. He is meticulously sovereign. He is good and he delights to give good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:7-11).

– God’s will and God’s ways are a great mystery, but I know that whatever he wills or permits is for my good. Every situation in life is an unfolding of some manifestation of God’s love and goodness. Therefore, the believers ‘job’ is to look for each special manifestation of God’s goodness and be prepared for surprises and blessings (Romans 8:28).

– I must not regard my circumstances and conditions in and of themselves but as part of God’s dealings with me in the work of perfecting my soul and bringing me to final perfection. We must burn into our minds and hearts the words of the psalmist: “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works” [ Psalms 145:17 ].

– Whatever my conditions may be at this present moment, they are only temporary, they are passing, and they can never rob me of the joy and the glory that ultimately await me in Jesus. To be content, one must realize that their inheritance is in heaven and it is being guarded to be revealed on the last day (1 Peter 1:4). The Apostle Paul called his affliction momentary and light (2 Corinthians 4:16-18), even though he suffered in ways the vast majority of us never will. (See his ministry resume in 2 Corinthians 11:16-29 for a stunning laundry list of Paul’s sufferings in service of the Gospel.)

THE ‘RIGHT KIND’ OF DISCONTENTMENT
We hear over and over there are some things money can’t buy, such as happiness. In moments of discontent, though, we like to ‘test’ that theory.

The Apostle Paul speaks of contentment as something NOT ‘natural’, something that must be learned. Facing various circumstances ranging from abundance to need, he found he could be content in either. He learned through experience (Philippians 4:11-13).

The thing is, we CAN also learn contentment another way—by digging into our dissatisfaction. As we ‘excavate’ the root causes of our discontentment, we are better equipped to fight it.

As one thinks about digging beneath discontent, they sometimes realize that so many of the things they are dissatisfied with spring from ‘good’ desires. When one is discontent with their body, exercise will help solve that discontent. When one is discontent with their marriage or their friendships, working at developing a deeper relationship will help solve that discontent. So, sometimes discontent can turn out to be a ‘good’ thing! So, examining our discontentment involves both recognizing right desires and repenting of related sin.

In the book “Mere Christianity,” author C. S. Lewis famously wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” This ‘fallen’ world is fundamentally dissatisfying. As Lewis goes on to explain, “Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy [our desire], but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” This is where we often go wrong. When earthly pleasures don’t satisfy, we dwell there rather than hope for something better.

So, some of our dissatisfaction has a purpose, then. It points to “the real thing” we desire. We should be discontent—to a certain extent—with earthly pleasures. If they are satisfying us, then we are far too easily pleased. The problem of our discontent is when we believe earthly gains solve our inner desires. It leads us to covet what God has given others, and we become ungrateful for His provision in our own lives.

Instead, Lewis says, “I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.”

By taking time to understand our desires, we find what we really want is something only Heaven can offer. Instead of grumbling about what’s lacking, we anticipate the fullness and satisfaction we will enjoy there—and we encourage others to do the same.

Our discontent with this present world should nurture one’s desire for the next ‘world’. We can be thankful: though money can’t buy true happiness or Heaven, Jesus offers the believer both!

A ‘WAY’ OF LIFE
Self-esteem has become one of our culture’s most cherished values. The American education system is geared toward creating self-esteem in our children by having individual achievement and recognition of excellence are not as important as making sure that everyone ‘feels’ good about themselves. If we give ‘trophies’ to some and not to others, someone’s feelings might be hurt and affect their self-esteem—or, so the current conventional ‘wisdom’ goes.

In this context, the world says that the way to contentment is to “be yourself.” It exhorts us that we need to ‘like’ ourselves to have self-esteem.

However, in contrast to today’s emphasis on self-esteem, the ‘BIBLICAL’ message is that contentment only comes from NOT being ourselves! That is, we find peace and joy from being CONFORMED to the ‘IMAGE’ of Christ.

The Bible is clear that EVERY human being has dignity because they have been created in the image of God—BUT, sin has marred that image. The goal, indeed the end result for the believer, is conformity to Christ, who is Himself described in Scripture as the “image” of God. In other words, Christianity is about RESTORING humanity to the state that God originally ‘intended’ for them.

In a sense then, we can say that Christianity is about ‘BECOMING’ ourselves, NOT ‘being’ ourselves. Simply being ourselves in our sin and depravity leads to death and despair—and there is no joy in that! The believer has hope ONLY as they see the character of Christ being ‘formed’ in them!

So, to be like Christ, ‘walking’ in love just as He loved us and gave Himself up for us—THAT is the source of joy in the Christian life (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Biblically, the ‘KEY’ to the Christian life—and achieving godly contentment—is ‘DYING’ TO SELF (John 3:30; 1 Corinthians 15:31; Galatians 2:20-21; Galatians 5:24-25). Indeed, our BIGGEST ‘ENEMY’ is self. We were created to glorify God and to live for Him. But, in our ‘rebellion’, we live not for God but for self.

So, the ‘consecrated’ life—a life lived not for self but for God—is also the contented life, one ‘dead’ to self and conformed to the ‘image’ of Christ. Free to live for God and others.

The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates believed that if you are truly wise you will not be obsessed with possessions. Practicing to an extreme what he preached, he even refused to wear shoes.

Socrates loved to visit the marketplace, though, and gaze with admiration at the great abundance of wares on display. When a friend asked why he was so allured, he replied, “I love to go there and discover how many things I am perfectly happy without.”

[ So, maybe ask yourself, “What am I truly happy to be without?” The answer may reveal much about your relationship with Jesus and your contentment with Him. ]

Mathematician, philosopher, and theologian Blaise Pascal wrote, “Happiness can be found neither in ourselves nor in external things, but in God and in ourselves as united to Him.” This is a succinct summation of biblical contentment. Human beings were created with a ‘soul-thirst’ for God—and NOTHING will satisfy this thirst but God! “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” [ 1 Timothy 6:6-8 ]. THIS is the type of ‘wealth’ that the believer must pursue! If we become enamored with ‘things’, Paul warned, we may wander from the faith and be pierced with the pangs of frustrated desire (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

As King Solomon said, the things of this world “are vanity.” They CANNOT compare to the ‘true’ joy that is found ‘in’ God. But, they help ‘point’ us to the greater delight of God Himself.

The believer’s enjoyment of the good things of this life is not true enjoyment if they delight themselves in the ‘gift’ rather than the ‘Giver’, God.

In his sermon “Satisfaction in God” Cotton Mather said this well:

“Our continual apprehension [understanding, grasp] of God, may produce our continual satisfaction in God, under all His dispensations. Whatever enjoyments are by God conferred upon us, where lies the relish, where the sweetness of them? Truly, we may come to relish our enjoyments, only so far as we have something of God in them. It was required in Psalm xxxvii. 4, ‘Delight thyself in the Lord.’ Yea, and what if we should have no delight but the Lord? Let us ponder with ourselves over our enjoyments: ‘In these enjoyments I see God, and by these enjoyments, I serve God!’

“And now, let all our delight in, and all our value and fondness for our enjoyments, be only, or mainly, upon such a divine score as this. As far as any of our enjoyments lead us unto God, so far let us relish it, affect it, embrace it, and rejoyce in it: ‘O taste, and feed upon God in all;’ and ask for nothing, no, not for life itself, any further than as it may help us, in our seeing and our serving of our God.”

This should caution the believer against an unbridled pursuit of the ‘things’ of this world. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the ‘danger’ of this kind of pursuit: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” [ 1 Timothy 6:9-10 ]. While God gives us good things to enjoy, we must pursue the Giver, not the ‘gift’. We need to remember that a godly self-denial is essential to the Christian life. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” [ Luke 9:23 ].

Jesus was the MOST ‘contented’ man who ever lived. In the same way, Jeremiah Burroughs wrote that, “There was never any man or woman so contented as a self-denying” one. He goes on to say, “A discontented heart is troubled because he has no more comfort, but a self-denying man rather wonders that he has as much as he has.”

Now, self-denial DOES NOT equal grim ‘austerity’. We deny ourselves because we are followers of Jesus, and we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). We do not pursue the things of this world. Yet, our lives are to be marked by joy, and we can delight in the things of this world as we recognize them as ‘gifts’ from God. We delight in God in them. They ‘point’ us to the greater delight of God Himself. Joy and satisfaction come ONLY on the restless pursuit of the pleasures of God.

At the end of the day, this is the ‘essence’ of Christian contentment—finding joy ‘in’ God, delighting and ‘resting’ in Him.

So, when one is denying self, they then are preoccupied with the needs of others—instead of themselves. [ Biblically speaking, an acronym for “JOY” has been defined as “Jesus,” “Others, “You” (or Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last) ].

The thing is, you can tell someone is contented they are not preoccupied with themselves (their plans being ruined, the goals that aren’t happening, or their needs that aren’t being met), RATHER they are preoccupied with the needs of others and they see themselves as the “hands and feet” of Jesus, preoccupied in extending themselves for others. Now, this doesn’t mean they don’t ‘take care’ of their personal needs, it just means that they are not ‘preoccupied’ with them.

Contentment unleashes the power of God, however, it is only possible through learning that Jesus is the one that supplies the strength to live this way.

Some of the Bible translations and paraphrases say this is different ways. The J.B. Phillips translation says, “I’m ready for anything through the strength of the one who lives in me.” The Living Bible translates it that, “I can do everything God asked me to do with the help Christ, who gives me the strength and power.” The Amplified ‘paraphrase’ says it this way: “I am self-sufficient in christ’s sufficiency.”

So, we as believers are ‘endowed’ with Jesus’ power that is ready for any of the demands of life, BUT the power is only released when we believe that God is wisely accomplishing His purposes in the way that is best!

SPECIFIC ‘METHODS’
So, how does one ‘LEARN’ to be content and satisfied in God and then avoid getting ‘re-infected’ with the major ‘distraction’ to contentment—especially in America—materialism?

Well, one of the best ways to start is to study 1 Timothy 6:6-17, in which the Apostle Paul—one of the most contented people to ever live—describes seven principles that promote contentment:

Principle 1—Remember That Things Are ‘Temporary’:
“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can carry nothing out” [ 1 Timothy 6:6-7 ].

You cannot take it with you. There are no U-Haul trailers behind hearses.

Discontentment will destroy your peace, rob you of joy, and make you miserable. We dishonor God if we proclaim a Savior who satisfies and then go around discontented.

They who are content do not have to worry about the latest styles or what to wear tomorrow. They can rejoice in their neighbor’s good fortune without having to feel inferior. They do not fret with wrinkles or graying hair because they accept what will come—from the ‘hand’ of God.

They do not have to worry how they might buy this or that because they have no desire for this or that. They have time for gratitude even in small things. They have time for relationships because possessions and the bank do not ‘own’ them.

Principle 2—Only Seek ‘Necessities’, And Wait For The Rest:
“Having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” [ 1 Timothy 6:8 ].

We need shelter and the basic provisions of life, but everything beyond that is simply a great blessing. Whether it comes or goes is okay. God has said that all we are supposed to expect in life are food and clothing, so we should be happy with that.

Principle 3—Avoid A Consuming Desire For ‘Prosperity’:
“Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and many foolish and harmful lusts, for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith and ‘pierced’ themselves through with many sorrows” [ 1 Timothy 6:9-10 ].

America has been fed a prosperity ‘diet’. You might say, “That is not me—I am not rich.” If you own a car, you are rich. Ninety-five percent of the people in the world can’t afford their own ‘personal’ car! Your watch and the clothes you have on are worth more than what hundreds of millions of people on earth have!

Principle 4—Flee ‘Materialism’:
“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness” [ 1 Timothy 6:11 ].

Do you seek to accumulate possessions—or to grow in Christlikeness? Value what will count for eternity!

Principle 5—Cling To ‘Eternal Life’:
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called. Keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing” [ 1 Timothy 6:12, 14 ].

We need a whole generation of people who are holding tighter to eternal life than they are to this world.

If we are not careful, before long our possessions can possess us. They then become an ‘anchor’ that holds us back. The care of riches ‘clouds’ our minds from seeking the purity of Christ.

Principle 6—Fix Your ‘Hope’ On God:
“Command those who are rich not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God” [ 1 Timothy 6:17 ].

There is nothing wrong with wealth, but we are to recognize the danger of ‘relying’ upon it. All that we own can evaporate as quickly as a blip on a computer screen. There are few things that are real possessions in this world, but the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy, can never fail us—and our trust in Him is certain!

Principle 7—Give Until It ‘Hurts’:
“Let them do good, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” [ 1 Timothy 6:18-19 ].

The real cure for materialism is to give until it hurts! Giving “until it hurts” means giving at the cost of personal sacrifice. For example, the widow gave both of her mites, or all that she had (Mark 12:42-44). The woman who anointed Jesus broke the flask of fragrant oil and irrecoverably gave all she had to Him (Luke 7:37-47). Sacrificial gifts are especially important to Jesus.

That is why the last words that John wrote in 1 John, should speak to each of us: “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols” [ 1 John 5:20-21 ].

CONTENTMENT ‘RESISTS’ COVETING
Do you remember the 10th of the Ten Commandments? Almost all of us at one time or another, have read it, but here is a reminder:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s”
[ Exodus 20:17 ].

Covetousness is desiring something so much that you lose your contentment in God. The opposite of covetousness is contentment in God. When contentment in God decreases, covetousness for gain increases. That’s why the Apostle Paul says in that covetousness is idolatry. “Put to death what is earthly in you; fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. It’s idolatry because the contentment that the heart should be getting from God, it starts to get from something else” [ Colossians 3:5 ].

Well, in 21st-century terms, God is saying to watch out for those dangerous desires that can ruin your life, destroy your eternal legacy, and pierce you through with many pains. The following response to each ‘section’ of the passage above:

– Don’t long for all the bigger, better, beautiful, spacious, comfortable houses you have seen and don’t have, and don’t get a second job to earn more money for it. Be content with the house you have, and use all your extra time and money to serve Me instead of longing for a bigger and better house. Because that is idolatry!

– Don’t long for all the externally looking prettier, skinnier, younger women you have noticed in life. Don’t wish you had one like the ones you see in magazines, TV, movies, or online. Don’t wish that she looked like an actress or a model. Be content with the wife God has given you, and use your extra time to serve your wife and children instead of longing for a ‘better’ wife.

– Don’t long for a more comfortable life with less hard work, with fewer struggles and cares, and with more free time to do what you please, like all the rich and the famous you have watched, and heard about. Be content with the place in life where God has put you, and use your extra time to live more of each day for His glory, surrendering for His will to be done in your life.

– Don’t long for that dream job that everyone else has, with all the freedom, perks, security, and high pay like you have seen or heard about. Be content with what God has placed into your hands to do for Him, trust Him to guide your path, and use your extra time to stay tuned into His Word, and follow God’s leading, and you will have the very best job in life that is possible to have.

– Don’t wish you had a car (or truck, or boat, or bike, or motorhome, or snowmobile, etc.) as others have, that is bigger, newer, fancier, sportier, or more powerful or impressive. Be content with what you have, thank God for all the struggles your car gives you because that is what God uses to increase our faith, patience, and dependence upon Him, and use the extra time and energy you save in not trying to impress everyone around you to start spending more time pleasing God.

– God says we are not to long for anything we don’t have that someone else has, because that is idolatry!

THIS IS A ‘LEARNED SKILL’
We all must ‘LEARN’ the skill of divine contentment. We are all by nature discontent. We are not going to wake up one morning and suddenly be possessed by an overwhelming sense that it is all right in the world.

Getting what we want, when we want it, WILL NOT bring lasting happiness. Joyful contentment is the result of a hard-fought, blood-sweat-and-tears battle. God is eager for us to have the same joyful, peaceful, circumstance-free contentment that the Apostle Paul had, but it is something we MUST learn.

Pastor Charles Spurgeon said, “Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and, if we would have it, it must be cultivated. It will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be especially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has soul in us.”

So, how do you see your current circumstances? Do you see them as divine training grounds, forcing you to press and strain toward the wonderful goal of contentment, or do you think they are limitations that God has placed upon you?

The thing is, in God’s wisdom, He has given many people more talents and abilities than you. So, in response to that, are you frustrated with your limitations or do you embrace them as a means of learning contentment? Every pain in prosperity is an opportunity from God to learn the priceless ‘art’ of contentment. Puritan preacher Thomas Watson said, “If God dams up our outward comfort, it is so that the stream of our love may run faster in another way.”

So then, how do you respond when life goes from difficult to impossible? Do you wallow in discontentment and complaining, or do you ‘run’ to God? Do you allow your circumstances to determine if you will be content, or do you go to the God who gives joy that transcends circumstances?

Now, sometimes we have to learn the ‘hard’ way when it comes to contentment. There is no shortcut, no easy way out. Contentment is learned, and God IS ‘WILLING’ to teach you to be content in the midst of your pain, prosperity, gladness, and sadness.

The thing is, God WILL give you sufficient grace, so ‘lean’ on it! Cling to it! When life seems unlivable, find ‘shelter’ in His grace. Don’t try to live on your ‘own’. That is ‘suicide’. Totally ’submit’ to God and He WILL ‘UPLIFT’ you in your weaknesses!

WRAP-UP
Many of us will walk through a life-altering tragedy at some point in this life. But for most of us, most of the time, the deepest challenge of life is not weathering some earth-shattering, once-in-a-lifetime disaster, it is the garden-variety ‘discouragements’ of life: Not getting the job you wanted, not marrying the person you wanted, chronic health issues, stressful financial issues, and a variety of other ‘pains’.

A flash flood may drown us, but eventually so will an incessant ‘dripping’ if it is not dealt with. A sudden disaster may overwhelm us, but eventually so will the ‘drip’ of discouragement if it is allowed to collect.

So, there are two ways to do life. One is to gradually grow ‘cynical’ by allowing the discouragements of life to ‘beat you up’, or two, ‘leverage’ the discouragements of life into a ‘deeper reality’.

Remember that slow growth is still real growth. Flowers don’t blossom overnight—they blossom at the end of several months of varying conditions: day and night; sunny and cloudy; dry and wet; warmer and cooler. They are growing, but it is almost imperceptible day to day.

So, the great danger is not that you grow slowly, but that you stop ‘fighting’ to grow at all. In the ‘economy’ of life, fighting is winning. So, DON’T GIVE UP because “Someone” (God, in the video below) is watching you and helping you become MORE ‘content’ and, even more importantly, to know His will and give your life purpose and meaning!

[ VIDEO: “The Story of Life” by Sierra ]

Contentment is NEVER the result of multiplying riches, increas­ing pleasures, or gaining fame. All these only incite discontent. For when one obtains these ‘things’, they find that they still are not satisfied. Con­tentment DOES NOT depend upon things on the ‘outside’, but results from conditions on the ‘inside’! The Apostle Paul had suffered more for the sake of Christ than probably anyone else (2 Corinthians 11:23-28), and yet he said, “I am content.”

So, contentment is the inward, gracious, quiet ‘spirit’ that joyfully rests in God’s ‘PROVIDENCE’ (previously detailed) without grumbling or complaining (Philippians 2:1).

Now, contentment does not mean ignoring problems or pretending they don’t exist—quite the opposite. A contented spirit is one that realizes the difficulty but can nevertheless ‘REST’ in God in the midst of all of it.

Also, contentment does not mean that we don’t voice our ‘complaints’ to God. The Scriptures are full of prayers from godly people who cry out and express ‘dissatisfaction’ to God (Psalm 3:4; 34:6; 55:16-17; 77:1;142:1-3).

ONLY ‘GOD’ CAN PROVIDE CONTENTMENT
If it is true that contentment and joy are only found ‘in’ Jesus—that Jesus IS the cure for discontentment—then it is crucial for us to cultivate a DEEP ‘RELATIONSHIP’ with Him. He is THE ‘SUPPLY’ of true contentment. SO, the only way to satisfy our thirsty souls is to FIND ‘SATISFACTION’ and strength in Jesus.

The prophet Habakkuk, in the Old Testament, discovered the ‘secret’ of contentment:

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior”
[ Habakkuk 3:17-18 ].

So, if Habakkuk was writing today, I’m thinking that he might say something like this:

“Though I lose my job, my retirement package loses all its value, my house is destroyed, and my health ruined, YET will I rejoice in the God of my salvation!”

Now, you may ask, “How could I find any joy in a situation like that?” Well, if you REALLY ‘BELIEVE’ that Jesus has atoned for your sins, and God the Father accepted Jesus’ sacrifice, then just remember that God is ‘for’ you: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” [ Romans 8:31-32 ]. Then, He will work out everything for your ‘good’: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” [ Romans 8:28 ].

In the Bible, we find an endless supply of contentment-giving promises. Verse after verse God has promised to strengthen the believer, sustain them, and encourage them. In one sense, the Bible is a ‘record’ of what God has COMMITTED to do on behalf of His ‘children’. His promises infuse hope into darkness, and life into death. If we want to be happy, we need to ‘sink’ our foundations deep into these promises. In this regard, Jeremiah Burroughs said:

“There is no condition that a godly man or woman can be in, but there is some promise or other in the scripture to help him in that condition. And that is the way of his contentment, to go to the promises, and get from the promise, that which may supply.”

In addition to that, the Apostle Paul said to the Philippians: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” [ Philippians 4:19 ]. God has promised to meet the believer’s every need. They WON’T have a single ‘true’ need that won’t be FULLY SATISFIED!

Scripture tells us that God will not withhold a single good thing from His children. If a thing is good for them, God will give it to them. If it is not good for them, He will withhold it. In God’s kindness, He does not allow them to pick and choose what they would like in their lives—because they would mess it all up! In the words of Puritan preacher Thomas Watson, “We fancy such a condition of life good for us, whereas, if we were our own carvers, we should often cut the worst piece.” So, thankfully, God doesn’t allow us to ‘carve out’ our own lives. He carves out ALL our days and then fills them with what is ‘best’ for the believer—both good and ‘bad’ things—to develop their character into the ‘image’ of His Son, Jesus.

In his book, “The Art of Divine Contentment,” Thomas Watson said:

“God has engaged himself under hand and seal for our necessary provisions. If a king should say to one of his subjects, “I will take care of you… If you are in danger, I will secure you; if in want, I will supply you,” would not that subject be content?”

God, the “King” of the universe, has PROMISED to take care of His ‘children’—provide for them and protect them. So, shouldn’t that be enough to make the believer content?

Now, there are some ‘stipulations’—one of which is that one needs to live in an honest, honorable, and straightforward manner. The Bible calls that “walking uprightly”: “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” [ Psalm 84:11 ].

SATISFACTION
There is a ‘fear’ that is growing in America at an exponential rate—primarily because of the Internet and Social Media. It is almost becoming an epidemic. It is called “FOMO”—the “Fear Of Missing Out.”

It is a phenomenon that was first identified by marketing strategist Dr. Dan Herman in 1996. FOMO simply refers to a worry and an apprehension that you don’t know about some special ‘happening’ in the world—and you are really ‘out-of-touch’!

People who struggle with FOMO have a nagging fear that somewhere, someplace, somebody else is having a better time, a more rewarding experience, they are enjoying life more than they are, or they have things they don’t have. This leads to the inability to be content with ‘where’ they are at a given moment, ‘who’ they are at a point in time, and ‘what’ they currently have in their possession. This is compounded by the fact that psychologists tell us that the most important thing we all want in life is TO BE ‘CONTENT’!

Today, Americans are ‘bombarded’ with marketing messages that say that either what we have, where we are, the way we look, or what we drive is INSUFFICIENT! The economy is ‘based’ on PERPETUAL DISCONTENT. Psychologists call this “Dissatisfaction Remediation.” This fancy term for one of the first words a child learns to say when they begin to learn how to speak: “More.”

Nobody has to teach them how to say “more,” and it takes a LONG time for a child to ever say, “enough.” [ Or “thanks” ;^D ]. Maybe that is why it is not coincidental that the song that Rolling Stone Magazine ranks as the number two song in its 500 Greatest Songs of All Time is “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones.

It seems like that dissatisfaction and discontentment follows us all of our life. Back in my ‘day’, there was a newspaper column called “Dear Abby,” where Abigail Van Buren would answer questions posed to her. A letter was sent in by the grandmother of 14-year-old Jason Lehman from New Haven, Connecticut. It so impressed her—since it was wise beyond his years—that she printed it without comment in her February 14, 1989 column:

“It was spring, but it was summer I wanted,
The warm days, and the great outdoors.

“It was summer, but it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.

“It was fall, but it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.

“It was winter, but it was spring I wanted,
The warmth and the blossoming of nature.

“I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom and respect.

“I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, and sophisticated.

“I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted,
The youth and the free spirit.

“I was retired, but it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind without limitations.

“My life was over, and I never got what I wanted.”

Sadly, this is so true for so many people. They never got ‘that’ job; Never got ‘that’ degree; Never married ‘that’ person; Never got to buy ‘that’ car; Never were able to buy ‘that’ house; and Never earned ‘enough’ money. They never got what they ‘wanted’ and they DIE ‘DISCONTENTED’. [ Just like the family member, that I have been mentioning in the past few posts, did. ]

So, many, many people are NOT content with their lives. They wish they had what someone else has. They wish they were where someone else is. They wish they had the job somebody else has. They say they don’t think they will ever find satisfaction!

Well, in the Bible, the Apostle Paul presents to us the ‘secret’ for contentment: be satisfied with ‘who’ you are, ‘where’ you are, ‘what’ you have.

Here is a man who had every reason to be dissatisfied and discontented: He had been unfairly treated, unlovingly rejected, and unjustly imprisoned—for crimes he had not committed. Yet, even though this dark ‘cloud’ of death was hanging over him in prison, he wrote that he was content and satisfied (in the Epistle to the Philippians).

The thing is, contentment is not a principle you practice, it is a lesson that you have to ‘learn’ and something you have to ‘practice’.

Now, some of you are probably a little bit irritated and are thinking, “You just don’t know the circumstances I’m under right now.” Well, that is probably true. BUT, the thing is, if you are a believer, you are not ‘under’ your circumstances, God is ‘over’ your circumstances!

You see, the Apostle Paul didn’t know from one day to the next what was going to happen to him. BUT, he knew God DID—and that was all that mattered! Paul didn’t know whether he would have a little or have a lot, but he knew he ‘had’ God—and that was ‘enough’!

Paul had finally figured out that if I have nothing but God, you have ‘EVERYTHING’. Conversely, if you have everything ‘without’ God, you have NOTHING! [ By the way, that is why the most dissatisfied, discontented people you will ever meet are ‘CONTROL FREAKS’. ]

Now, the thing is, contentment is realizing you DON’T have to control everything since God IS in control of everything! In addition to that, you don’t have to “keep up with the Joneses” when you are satisfied with being a ‘Smith’!

Here is a story that illustrates this better than I can:

“A king had everything a king could want, but he still wasn’t satisfied. He always wanted more. So, he was discouraged and discontented. He couldn’t find inner peace.

“So, one of his advisors came to him and he said, “Sire, why don’t you let us go into the kingdom and let us find the most contented man in the kingdom. Then, we will take that man’s shirt and we will bring it back. If you put on that man’s shirt maybe you will be content.”

“Well, the king had tried everything else so he thought, why not. He said, “Okay, go find the most contented man you can and bring his shirt back to me.”

“So he sent them out and they searched all over the kingdom for the most satisfied, contented man they could find so they could get his shirt and bring it back to the king.

“When they finally found the most contented, satisfied man in the kingdom, he didn’t even OWN A SHIRT!”

Satisfaction and contentment is an ‘ACQUIRED’ SKILL—you have got learn to be satisfied with ‘who’ you are, ‘where’ you are, and ‘what’ you have. That is exactly what God’s trying to teach us every single day. Another illustration here might explain this better:

There was a CEO of a large company who was feeling that he was about to have a nervous breakdown—there was just too much pressure navigating a merger with another company. So, he thought that he would just get away for a few days.

Being kind of a spiritual ‘seeker’, he went to a monastery where no one could contact him.

So, after he checked in, a monk showed him to a simple little room. There was no window, no television, no computer, and no telephone (and he was not allowed to take in his cell phone). All there was in the room was a bed, a sink, a tub, and a Bible. As the monk was leaving closing the door behind him, he said: “Sir, I do hope you enjoy your stay. Oh…by the way, if you need anything at all, please let us know. We will teach you how to get along without it.” ;^D

The Apostle Paul is telling us that God wants us to live contented, and WILL provide what the believer ‘NEEDS’ (Matthew 6:33; Romans 8:32; Psalms 107:9).

Now, you might be thinking, “I can’t do that. I am not content with who I am, where I am, and am not satisfied with what I have—even if this is ‘who’ God made me, ‘where’ God has placed me, and ‘what’ God has given me.”

Well, I TOTALLY agree with you. ‘YOU’ CANNOT do this on your own. You can ONLY do this, as the Apostle Paul says: “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” [ Philippians 4:13 ].

Now, this verse is NOT saying you can do ‘anything’ through Christ that you want to do. What Paul was saying was that you can be totally content with who you are, where you are, and what you have ‘through’ Christ who gives you the ‘CAPACITY’ and ‘POSSIBILITY’ of doing it—IF it is in God’s ‘will’ for you!

Contentment will NEVER come when you reach the top of the ‘ladder’. It won’t come when you have that large bank account. It won’t come when you become the CEO. It WILL COME when you change the way you think about what it ‘TAKES’ for you to be content. Trappist monk Thomas Merton said it well: “People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” Motivational speaker Steven R. Covey said something similar: “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

Another illustration should help out here:

I remember a Peanuts cartoon strip for Thanksgiving, and Snoopy was complaining because he was stuck inside his doghouse eating his dog food while everyone else was in the house eating turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. Snoopy is discouraged and not content.

Then, the last ‘panel’ of the strip shows Snoopy saying to himself: “You know, it could have been worse. I could have been born a turkey!” ;^D

That is so true for many people. Instead of griping about what you don’t have, be grateful for what you DO HAVE (and this also goes for ‘who’ you are and ‘where’ you are in life!)

The thing is, even if you get everything that you want—because contentment is a ‘heart’ issue—you will NEVER be satisfied! Another story about a rich businessman illustrates this better than I can:

A businessman who owned a really big company—and was filthy rich—was walking by a lake one day, and there was a guy sitting there. He had his fishing boat up on the shore and he was just sitting there by the fishing boat. He was just kind of staring up in the sky, lazily with a big, big smile on his face, looked like he was just enjoying life.

So the businessman walked over to him and said, “Why aren’t you out there fishing?” The fisherman said, “Well, because I have already been fishing and I have caught enough fish for the day.” The businessman said, “Well, why don’t you go catch more fish?”

The fisherman said, “Well, what would I do with more fish?” The businessman said, “Well, look, you could sell those fish for more money. Then you could buy a bigger and better boat so you could go deeper and farther. Then you catch even bigger fish which you could sell each for more money.

“Then you could go out and purchase another boat so that you could catch even more fish. Soon you would have a fleet of boats and you would have a bunch of fishermen working for you. They would then help you build a really big fishing company.”

“Then, you would be making all the money that you want, and would be rich like I am.” The fisherman said, “Well, then what would I do?”

The rich businessman said, “Well, then you could just sit around and enjoy life.” The fisherman said, “What do you think I’m doing right now?”

We might smile at that story but, the thing is, God HAS given the believer the ‘capability’ to overcome FOMO—greed, materialism, selfishness, etc.—by focusing on living ‘for’ Jesus on a daily basis. Then, you WILL be content with ‘who’ you are, ‘what’ you have, and ‘where’ you are in your life! (Matthew 6:25-26; Matthew 6:33; 1 Timothy 6:6; Luke 12:15; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Psalms 37:4)

So, let me ask you a rhetorical question (and you might want to read it twice before you answer it).

If you knew that you were living in the will of God, that God is in control of your life, and that you would always be ‘where’ you should be, be doing ‘what’ you should be doing, and have ‘what’ you should have, would you be totally satisfied?

Well, you might say, “Sure.” So, here is the GOOD ‘NEWS’. The Apostle Paul said that, God will meet ALL your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus [ Philippians 4:19 ]. That is a PRETTY GREAT promise!

So, if you are a “born again” believer and you are living in the center of God’s will—you are being obedient and faithful to Him—you have every right and every reason to expect that EVERY ‘real’ need you have in your life WILL be provided for! So, why worry and be discontent?

Now to be clear, God will NOT supply all of your ‘GREED’. He said, “I will meet all of your NEEDS.” The thing is, I am REALLY thankful that God has NOT given me everything that I have wanted (and I’m sure you can think of a few things in your past that would have been ‘horrendous’ if you would have gotten them!)

So, if there is a need in your life right now that hasn’t been met, one of two things is true. It is either not a ‘true’ need, or God has just not met that need… yet. There is no such thing as an unmet need, and that need may not be met in YOUR ‘WAY’ or in YOUR ‘TIMING’. Author Norman Vincent Peale said it well: “God answers prayer in three ways: “Yes,” “No,” and wait a while.”

Contented believers can rest patiently under God’s wise and fatherly ‘hand’ when they asked for things in prayer and God says, “No” or “Wait.” Learning to trust God—who grants some blessings and refuses others—demonstrates an amazing level of spiritual maturity. The Apostle Paul sought God earnestly, asking for the “thorn in the flesh” to be removed (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). However, even after asking three times, God said “No” to Paul, saying that this would teach him that His grace would be sufficient for him (“that God’s strength would be made perfect in weakness”).

Here’s a few quotes that summarize this section better than I could (More in the “Deep Thoughts” section below):

“Let our thoughts rest upon Him; and He will lift us above ourselves, and above the world, and satisfy our utmost desires.”
[ D.L. Moody ]

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
[ John Piper ]

“God puts desires into your heart. His desires will actually become your desires, and your desires will be His.”
[ Elizabeth George ]

“Desire only God, and your heart will be satisfied.”
[ St. Augustine ]

JUST ‘PILGRIMS’
Even with all the frustrations we go through, the believer must remember that they are not ‘home’ yet—Heaven. Knowing that they are just ‘passing through’ and where they are going allows them to be content in this world. Just like Christian in John Bunyan’s classic, “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” they are like ‘pilgrims’ making their way to the “Celestial City.”

In John Bunyan’s allegory “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” the main character, protagonist Christian, meets Apollyon in the Valley of Humiliation. Apollyon is the prince and god of the City of Destruction, which Christian has fled. After the two fight in the Valley, Christian conquers his foe.

A bit later, Christian meets up with his old friend Faithful, who also journeyed through the Valley of Humiliation on the road to Zion. However, instead of battling a fiend, Faithful met a different kind of enemy, one more ‘sly’ but no less dangerous than Apollyon. He encountered “Discontent,” who tries to persuade him to go back and not attempt to cross the Valley.

CHRISTIAN: “He told me, indeed, that he saw you go by; but I wish you had called at the house, for they would have showed you so many rarities that you would scarce have forgot them to the day of your death. But pray tell me, Did you meet nobody in the Valley of Humility?”

FAITHFUL: “Yes, I met with one Discontent, who would willingly have persuaded me to go back again with him; his reason was, for that the valley was altogether without honour. He told me, moreover, that there to go was the way to disobey all my friends, as Pride, Arrogance, Self-conceit, Worldly-glory, with others, who he knew, as he said, would be very much offended, if I made such a fool of myself as to wade through this valley.”

CHRISTIAN: “Well, and how did you answer him?”

FAITHFUL: “I told him, that although all these that he named might claim kindred of me, and that rightly, for indeed they were my relations according to the flesh; yet since I became a pilgrim, they have disowned me, as I also have rejected them; and therefore they were to me now no more than if they had never been of my lineage.

I told him, moreover, that as to this valley, he had quite misrepresented the thing; for before honour is humility, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Therefore, said I, I had rather go through this valley to the honour that was so accounted by the wisest, than choose that which he esteemed most worthy our affections.”

To explain what happened, Discontent tried to convince Faithful that the way of humility (in the “Valley of Humiliation”) will be ruinous to his reputation and he would be scorned and ridiculed by the ‘world’. Discontent said that he should go back rather than appear weak and admit his need for grace and help. However, Faithful—because of his recent trials—knew the mercies of God afresh. (When he had fallen on the Hill, he was raised up in the strength of the Lord.) He now had his eyes on ‘glory’ and had an answer to fend off discontentment.

So, Faithful tells Discontent that at one time he was indeed friends with Pride, Arrogancy, Self-Conceit, and Worldly-Glory (These ‘friends’ represent the world’s way of finding contentment and satisfaction.) When Faithful originally decided to follow Jesus, his former friends disowned him, and he chose to believe God’s Word rather than the advice of his friends.

The thing is, the ‘world’ measures contentment by what we think of ourselves and by what others think of us. It finds humility to be demeaning and foolish. In the world’s eyes, we can only be satisfied when we look good to ourselves and to others, not when we admit ourselves to be needy or downtrodden.

Discontent can be a pesky ‘companion’. We invite its ‘company’ when we are tempted to find our joy and satisfaction in something or someone other than Jesus. Discontent seeks out those who reject Jesus and those who try to find fulfillment in the ‘things’ of this world. But, he also finds those who attempt to follow Jesus with wrong expectations and misplaced desires.

So, if you decide to follow Jesus with the expectation that being a Christian will solve all the problems in your marriage, make you successful in your job, or give you prosperity and privilege in this life, then you can expect to have discontentment as your frequent ‘companion’. Why? Well, because Jesus NEVER promised that your marriage will be free from troubles, that you will be rewarded in your business, or that you will achieve affluence and ease in this world. In fact, following Jesus often brings MORE suffering and trials in this life (John 16:33). However, God uses our troubles and difficulties to sanctify us and draw us closer to Him. Our trials and troubles humble us and graciously remind us of our need for a Savior. They prevent us from making the terrible mistake of believing we can make it through this life on our own.

What Jesus DID ‘PROMISE’ is that the believer would live eternally in a place called Heaven where there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” [ Revelation 21:4b ].

The Apostle Paul also understood that true contentment is not found in our expectations being met or circumstances going our way. It is only found in Jesus. Paul ‘learned’ to be content regardless of his condition or circumstances, and he told the church in Philippi how he did it:

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 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”
[ Philippians 4:10-13 ].

People, possessions, plans, and pursuits will ALL ‘DISAPPOINT’ us in the end. Only Jesus truly satisfies. Paul said:

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ”
[ Philippians 3:7-8 ].

If we ‘have’ Jesus, we have ‘ALL’ WE NEED!

So, if we understand that having Jesus is MORE ‘VALUABLE’ than ANYTHING this life can offer, that eternity with Him makes it worth enduring all the pain, and that suffering and hardship this life can disturb our comfort, THEN THAT’S WHEN we will find ‘TRUE’ CONTENTMENT! We will know—as Paul did—how to be abased and how to abound.

The brevity of life is vital for any believer who wants to attain contentment. They are told that their life is like a “mist”—a morning vapor arising from the lake that the rising sun will evaporate (James 4:14). This should make one realize that anything they experience here on earth is ‘FLEETING’.

Going back to Bunyan’s allegory, Faithful understood that he was on a pilgrimage to the Celestial City (Heaven), and the only smile and favor he desired was that of his Lord.

“I cannot be poor if I am in Christ
In Him I am full and abound
Though everything else should all pass away
I’m rich if in Him I am found

“It is enough that I am in Christ
Enough that His mercy I see
It is enough that I taste of His grace
Enough that His love has found me

“Pursue not this world, its wisdom and ways
Contentment eludes those who try
For all in this world is fading away
And soon will all wither and die

“It is enough that I am in Christ
Enough that His mercy I see
It is enough that I taste of His grace
Enough that His love has found me.”

[ “It Is Enough” by Ken Puls – Music video in the “Resources” area below. ]

[ FYI: For a summary of “The Pilgrim’s Progress” book (both ‘parts’), view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/leaving-a-legacy-v242/ ].

IS ONLY GOD ‘ENOUGH’ FOR YOU?
For me, one of the key verses when it comes to contentment is, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘never will I leave you, never will I forsake you’” [ Hebrews 13:5 ].

This prompted pastor Charles H. Spurgeon to ask:

“Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of death, will not the internal corruptions and the external snares, will not the trials from above and the temptations from beneath all seem but light afflictions when we can hide ourselves beneath the bulwark of ‘he has said’?”

[ Note: Not even one phrase in any sentence in any statement the Bible has ever made has failed (Joshua 21:45) ].

So, no matter how desperate and alone you feel, no matter how much opposition you face, no matter how precarious your circumstances become, God has said, “I will be with you” and His ‘presence’ can calm any fear you have! Woo-hoo!!!

The writer to the Hebrews is clear. We are to keep our lives free from the ‘love’ of “mammon” (riches; material wealth; money; greedy pursuit of gain), and we are not to love the ‘gifts’ God gives us more than God Himself. Essentially, discontentment is just not being ‘SATISFIED’ with God.

Pastor Jeff Robertson says that, “In our self-idolatry, we tend to think that a change in circumstances will bring us joy and contentment. For us, the grass is always greener unless we learn to find our contentment in something that is transcendent and eternal.” (The thing is, the reality is that the ‘grass’ is as green as our ‘perspective’ is!) As Robertson points out, anything other than God ultimately won’t satisfy.

So, consider this Reader’s Digest story about ‘perspective’:

“A Jewish man in Hungary went to his rabbi and complained, ‘Life is unbearable. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?’ The rabbi answered, ‘Take your goat into the room with you.’ The man was incredulous, but the rabbi insisted, ‘Do as I say and come back in a week.’

“A week later the man returned looking more distraught than before. ‘We can’t stand it,’ he told the rabbi. ‘The goat is filthy.” The rabbi said, “Go home and let the goat out, and come back in a week.’ A week later the man returned, radiant, exclaiming, ‘Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of it now that there’s no goat—only the nine of us.’”

So, you can see that contentment is more a matter of our ‘perspective’ than of our circumstances, isn’t it?

Pastor Erik Raymond puts it this way: “Grumbling is a distrust of God, an anxious concern that the future won’t work out the way we want it to. Discontentment can also be characterized by bitterness. This is a frustration that the past has not gone the way we would like… Whether explicit or implicit, this type of grumbling is directed at the One who is sovereign over such things. Grumbling, and complaining, then are a theological issue that casts God as incompetent, unfair, or irrelevant.”

Can you see that in our discontentment, we start to question the very ‘nature’ of God—His Sovereignty, character, goodness, care, love, and righteousness? The greatest danger for the discontented heart is not that we are dissatisfied with our circumstances, but that we are ‘dissatisfied’ with God! [ Like my family member was ]. If this is you, then trust me, ‘RUN’ to God, confess your struggle, and ask Him to help you. Ask Him to help align your will to His. Don’t let your discontentment drive you from the ONLY One that can truly satisfy every need you have!

CONTENTMENT RESTS IN GOD’S ‘PROVIDENCE’
God calls us to be content in whatever situation we find ourselves by His sovereign providence (Philippians 4:11). He calls us to keep our lives free from the love of money and to be content with what we have. God not only tells us to be content but also graciously gives us the reason to be content by reminding us of His promise: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” [ Hebrews 13:5 ]. This is the ‘foundation’ for true and lasting contentment.

True contentment is not circumstantial, it is relational. It is not based on what happens to us, rather it is based on Who has taken ‘hold’ of us—the One who dwells ‘within’ us. If our contentment is based merely on what we have, we will always desire more. But, when it is based on who we are ‘in’ Christ, we will first and foremost desire to know Him more. For if we are to find contentment in all things, we must seek contentment in the only One who can fulfill all our desires—Jesus.

When we trust God the Father, the Holy Spirit renews our minds and transforms our desires to conform to God’s desires for us. In essence, contentment is wanting what God wants for us, and what He wants for us is Him. This is why the chief end of man is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism). We are the most content when we most enjoy what God has created us to desire—Himself.

Providence teaches us that God is not ‘disconnected’ from what is happening in the world today. There is no such thing as chance, luck, or fate. Rather, an all-wise, loving, powerful God is upholding, governing, and ordering all things—everything and everywhere in the universe!

So, looking upon Jesus and the glorious promises that He has secured for the believer, WILL bring them to a ‘place’ of contentment. The “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Haddon Spurgeon, makes this point with vivid contrast:

“The Christian is the most contented man in the world, but he is the least contented with the world. He is like a traveler in an inn, perfectly satisfied with the inn and its accommodation, considering it as an inn, but putting quite out of all consideration the idea of making it his home. He waits by the way, and is thankful, but his desires lead him ever onward towards that better country where the many mansions are prepared. The Believer is like a man in a sailing vessel, well content with the good ship for what it is, and hopeful that it may bear him safely across the sea, willing to put up with all its inconveniences without complaint.

But if you ask him whether he would choose to live on board in that narrow cabin, he will tell you that he longs for the time when the harbor shall be in view, and the green fields, and the happy homesteads of his native land. We, my Brethren, thank God for all the appointments of Providence—whether our portion is large or scant we are content because God has appointed it—yet our portion is not here, nor would we have it here if we might!—‘we have no abiding city here, Sad truth were this to be our home.’”

THE ‘SHAPE’ OF OUR LIVES
So, if we are content ‘in’ Jesus, what ‘shape’ will our lives begin to take? Well, four things ought to be true of the ‘contented’ believer:

– You Will Exhibit A Deeper Love For God’s ‘Word’
Contentment is a plant that must be tended daily, as pastor Charles H. Spurgeon said in his inimitable style: “Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated. It will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be especially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in it.”

– You Will Exhibit A Deeper And More Mature Love For God’s ‘Church’
The building is not the Church, people are. You will love all of God’s people even though they are imperfect and stained with sin (just like you and me). If one is content in Jesus, this will then set them free from false expectations of others.

– You Will Not Fall Apart When ‘Adversity’ Comes
You will rest in the absolute sovereignty of God and in His prerogative. You will have a very limited ability to figure out your circumstances and there will be many moments in life when we simply do not understand what is going on. We will face moments when the God whom Scripture calls good brings or allows things into our lives that will not seem good. They may even seem very bad.

When we are content in Jesus, we can say with the Apostle Paul: “But whatever gain I had, I counted loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss for because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” [ Philippians 3:7-8 ].

– You Will Want Others To Know The Great Gain That Comes From ‘Godliness’ With Contentment
You will want everyone you know to find the “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:6). Thus, you will not be embarrassed to proclaim to them that there is only ONE ‘path’ that leads to the “Celestial City.”

[ FYI: To learn more about the “Celestial City” that John Bunyan talked about in his book, “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/leaving-a-legacy-v242/ ].

So, consider these memorable words from Charles H. Spurgeon on the absurdity of discontentment for the follower of Christ:

“Permit me to remind you again, that you should be contented, because otherwise you will belie your own prayers. You kneel down in the morning, and you say, “Thy will be done!” Suppose you get up and want your own will, and rebel against the dispensation of your heavenly Father, have you not made yourself out to be a hypocrite? The language of your prayer is at variance with the feeling of your heart. Let it always be sufficient for you to think that you are where God put you. Have you not heard the story of the heroic boy on board the burning ship? When his father told him to stand in a certain part of the vessel, he would not move till his father bade him, but stood still when the ship was on fire. Though warned of his danger he held his ground. Until his father told him to move, there would he stay. The ship was blown up, and he perished in his fidelity. And shall a child be more faithful to an earthly parent than we are to our Father, who is in heaven? He has ordered everything for our good, and can he be forgetful of us? Let us believe that whatever he appoints is best; let us choose rather his will than our own. If there were two places, one a place of poverty, and another a place of riches and honor, if I could have my choice, it should be my privilege to say, ‘Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.’”

‘DESIRING’ CONTENTMENT
So unusual is contentment in a fallen human being, that Puritan theologian Jeremiah Burroughs called it “a rare jewel.” Nothing exhibits Christian maturity like contentment in Jesus and nothing unmasks our immaturity like discontentment. Yet, contentment is elusive: “Never satisfied are the eyes of man” [ Proverbs 27:20b ]. Jeremiah Burroughs also said that, “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise in fatherly disposal in every condition.”

The more that one prizes contentment to be that “RARE JEWEL” of inestimable worth, the more they will pursue it, sacrifice in order to attain it, and more vigorously fight to protect it against Satan’s ‘attacks’ (Ephesians 6).

God desires for the believer to be both attracted to Christian contentment and repulsed from worldly discontentment. Contentment WILL allow you to be ‘divorced’ from your circumstances!

The thing is, the ‘secret’ to Christian peace and contentment is available to anyone who is willing to ‘believe’ in it, ‘desired’ it, and ‘pursue’ it zealously. God wants us to ‘know’ about this secret, ‘experience’ it, and ‘enjoy’ it.

Jesus described the kind of experience he wants us to know:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on… [For] your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you”
[ Luke 12:22, 30b-31 ].

Then, the Apostle Paul—from prison—shared his experience of the ‘secret’ with all who would listen:

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me”
[ Philippians 4:11-13 ].

So, the ‘secret’ to CONTENTMENT is VERY ‘SIMPLE’, and is beautifully summed up in this passage of Scripture (my “Life Verse”):

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight
[ Proverbs 3:5-6 ].

Is it really that simple? Just ‘TRUST’ God? Well… yes! If we trust Him, our “hearts will not be troubled” (John 14:1). [ In addition to that, He will be preparing a ‘place’ for us in Heaven! (John 14:2-4) ]

[ FYI: For more details on how to ’trust’, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/learning-to-t-r-u-s-t-v263/ ].

Now, trusting is ‘simple’, but it is by no means ‘easy’—because of the Devil’s ‘treachery’. He DOESN’T WANT ‘ANYONE’ to be trusting in anyone except him! (Again, that’s why he was ‘thrown out’ of Heaven, onto the earth). The thing is, Jesus PROMISES the believer ‘strength’ and ‘protection’ (Ephesians 6 ‘armor’) against any of the Devil’s deceptions, and obeying God will shut the Devil’s ‘mouth’! “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger” [ Psalm 8:2 ].

If you let him, the Devil will harass you until the day you leave this earth. HOWEVER, you DO NOT have to allow it! You can put a stop to it by praising God—which WILL ‘still’ the voice of the enemy and avenger!

So, author and co-founder of the “Desiring God” ministry Jon Bloom put together this great listing of the things (not all-encompassing) that describe what happens when one ‘TRUSTS’ God implicitly. He says trusting God is the secret to:

– Forgiving those who have sinned against us (Ephesians 4:32).
– Turning away from sexual temptation (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
– Giving generously to kingdom needs, even beyond your means (2 Corinthians 8:3).
– Not allowing material abundance to choke the word in us (Matthew 13:22).
– Rejoicing even when sorrowful (2 Corinthians 6:10).
– Contentment even when experiencing deprivation (Philippians 4:12).
– Boldness even in the face of fearful threats (Acts 4:29).
– Peace even when facing pressured trials (Philippians 4:6–7).
– Joy even when enduring withering affliction and illness (2 Corinthians 1:3–5).
– Hope when all around our soul gives way (Psalm 42:11).
– Gracious patience under pressured labors (Colossians 1:11).
– Blessing those who persecute us (Romans 12:14).
– Courage in leaving family and property for Jesus’s sake (Matthew 19:29).
– Overcoming discouragement due to adversity and weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10).
– Not allowing indwelling sin to reign over or condemn us (Romans 6:12, 8:1).
– Loving saints who sin and sinful unbelievers (John 15:12; Romans 12:10; Romans 9:1–3).
– Facing every other fear and anxiety-producing temptation.

God promises to give you peace and contentment IF you TRUST Him unreservedly (Philippians 4:6-7). He also REALLY wants you to experience these ‘blessings’ in increasing measure, in this ‘troubled’ world (John 16:33). So He has given you the simple, hard ‘secret’ to implement into your life: Trust the God of the Bible. It is the ONLY way to ‘true’ contentment! The Apostle Paul emphasizes this by saying:

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
[ Philippians 4:12b-13 ].

GOD is the One that will give you the strength to overcome ANY circumstances and help you to be ‘CONTENT’ in WHATEVER situations you go through!

God said that King David was “a man after My own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), so I’m thinking that if he has something to say about all of this, I’m going to listen. David said:

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act
[ Psalm 37:4-5 ].

SO, do you have any “FOMO” feelings about being ‘contented’ in your life? Well, first off, to be ‘TOTALLY’ CONTENTED, one MUST be a ‘child’ of God—the ‘WHAT’. If you are a “born again” believer, great! HOWEVER, if you are an UNBELIEVER, DO NOT put this off any longer! DO NOT delay to make THE MOST IMPORTANT ‘DECISION’ of your life—how to have ‘ETERNAL’ LIFE!

Secondly, similar to the ‘secret’ of contentment—you must put your TRUST ‘IN’ Jesus as your Savior—the ‘WHO’—and ‘REPENT’ of your sins. Jesus IS the cure for discontentment, so it is crucial for us to cultivate a DEEP ‘RELATIONSHIP’ with Him. He is THE ‘SUPPLY’ of true contentment. SO, the only way to satisfy our thirsty souls is to FIND ‘SATISFACTION’ and strength in Jesus.

[ The following video will help you through the ‘process’: https://www.jdfarag.org/abc (“The ABC’s of Salvation” by JD Farag) ]

I have got to believe that you want to be ‘CONTENTED’ with your life—and you should! HOWEVER, I am suggesting that it is MUCH MORE ‘IMPORTANT’ for you to be ‘at peace’ with ‘WHERE’ you will spend eternity!

The Bible says our earthly lives are but a “mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Our earthly ‘sojourn’ is EXCEEDINGLY ‘BRIEF’! (normally about 70-100 years). HOWEVER, when death comes knocking on our ‘door’, the ONLY THING that will matter is one’s ‘RELATIONSHIP’ with Jesus. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36)

SO, DON’T PROCRASTINATE until it is TOO LATE! Achieve ‘ETERNAL’ CONTENTMENT now! It may only be ‘available’ for you TODAY!

[ Excerpts by: Thriveworks; Ryan Clements; Clarity Clinic; Jacqueline Pearce; Beverly D. Flaxington; Maggie Wooll; Mary Hunt; Jon Bloom; Colin Smith; Winfree Brisley; Philip Graham Ryken; Cassie Watson; Miranda Mae Ewing; Sharon Dickens; John W. Yates II; Jordan Harbinger; Kathy Caprino; Rich Schaus; Mike Robbins; Caroline Castrillon; Jessica Schrader; William Berry; Travis Bradberry; Elizabeth Scott; Neil Ihde; Leslie Vernick; Heidi Watz Vedvik; Joel Kady; James O. Davis; Dane Ortlund; Brandon Thomas; Diane Shirlaw-Ferreira; Brittany Allen; Jen Thorn; Cindi McMenamin; Jeff Robinson; Ken Puls; John MacArthur; D J De Haan; Tom Hicks; James Merritt; John Barnett; Marshall Segal; Robert Jeffress; Burk Parsons ]

RELATED POSTS:

“Achieving ‘Contentment’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/achieving-contentment-v282/

“Realistic ‘Expectations’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/realistic-expectations-v281/

“Mad At The ‘World’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/mad-at-the-world-v280/

“Why Bother With ‘Predictions’?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/why-bother-with-predictions-v279/

“‘Fearful’ Of World War III?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/fearful-of-world-war-III-v278/

“‘Investigating’ Something”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/investigating-something-v277/

“‘HOW’ To Prepare To Meet Someone Important”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/how-to-prepare-to-meet-someone-important-v276/

“‘WHY’ Does Someone Return?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/why-does-someone-return-v275/

“‘WHEN’ Will Something Important Happen?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/when-will-something-important-happen-v274/

“‘WHERE’ You Return To”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/where-you-return-to-v273/

“‘WHAT’ Have You Done Lately?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/what-have-you-done-lately-v272/

“It’s ‘WHO’ You Know”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/its-who-you-know-v271/

“What Really ‘Matters’?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/what-really-matters-v270/

“A Sense Of ‘Urgency’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/a-sense-of-urgency-v269/

“The ‘Final’ Deception”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/the-final-deception-v268/

“The ‘Ongoing’ Deception”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/the-ongoing-deception-v267/

“Being ‘Discerning’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/being-discerning-v266/

“Gaining A Deep ‘Understanding’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/gaining-a-deep-understanding-v264/

“‘Presence’ Withdrawn?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/presence-withdrawn-v257/

“‘Protection’ Removed?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/protection-removed-v256/

“Got Your ‘Attention’ Yet?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/got-your-attention-yet-v255/

“Are You ‘Blind’?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/are-you-blind-v252/

“‘Heed’ The Warning!”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/heed-the-warning-v251/

“Being A ‘Watchman’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/being-a-watchman-v250/

“Last ‘Generation’:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/last-generation-v249/

“Mankind’s ‘Destiny’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/mankinds-destiny-v247/

“‘Final’ Tribulation”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/final-tribulation-v246/

“‘Blessed’ Hope”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/blessed-hope-v245/

“Ready For ‘Battle’?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/ready-for-battle-v235/

“‘Saved’ From Death”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/saved-from-death-v219/

“‘Mayday!-Mayday!-Mayday’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/mayday-mayday-mayday-v218/

“Are You ‘Prepared’?”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/are-you-prepared-v210/

‘PRAYER’ OF REPENTANCE
In the Bible, there is a parable that Jesus told about a Pharisee and a tax collector praying the Temple. He notes that the tax collector didn’t even dare to lift his eyes toward Heaven as he prayed. Instead he “beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner’”—and Jesus said that the tax collector “went home justified,” he had been “born again” and ‘reconciled’ by God. (Luke 18:9-14).

If you are ‘sensing’ something like that right now, let me strongly encourage you to HUMBLE YOURSELF, CRY OUT to God, and PLEAD for Him to mercifully ‘SAVE’ YOU! None of us have a ‘claim’ on our salvation, nor do we have any ‘works’ that would cause us to deserve it or earn it—it is purely a gift of Divine grace—and all any of us can do is ask. So, CONFESS YOUR SINS and acknowledge to God that you have no hope for Heaven apart from what He provides through Jesus. [ See Psalm 51 ].

There is no ‘formula’ or certain words for this. So just talk to God, in your own words—He knows your ‘heart’. If you are genuinely sincere, and God does respond to your plea, one will usually have a sense of joy and peace.

Jesus said, “He that comes to Me, I will not cast out” [ John 6:37 ].

[ FYI: This is a great sermon on the “Call to Repentance” by John MacArthur from his book “The Gospel According to Jesus”: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-22/the-call-to-repentance (Transcript: http://www.spiritedesign.com/TheCallToRepentance-JohnMacArthur(Jul-27-2019).pdf) ].

[ NOTE: If you have ‘tasted the kindness of the Lord’, please e-mail me—I would love to CELEBRATE with you, and help you get started on your ‘journey’ with Jesus! ].


<<< RESOURCES >>>


Radically Content: Being Satisfied in an Endlessly Dissatisfied World
By: Jamie Varon

“If you’ve spent the last couple years untangling yourself from Hustle Culture, and trying to find who you are outside of your achievements and productivity, then we’ve got just the book for you. Fans of Untamed, this is your next favorite read.” —POPSUGAR

“I’ve fallen in love with Jamie’s words and how she so effortlessly can make us feel united with them. She has a true gift of helping us realize that all of our ‘human’ moments are what make us so special. She is a real light in this world.” —Lucy Hale, Award-Winning Actress from Pretty Little Liars, The Hating Game, and more

Blending memoir, sharp social insights, and unique practical tools, author Jamie Varon is your guide to radical contentment—a satisfied life outside the bounds of societal expectations.

Too many of us are waiting for our lives to begin, putting our happiness on layaway for some future version where it all lines up, when we’ve accomplished it all, when we have the perfect career, bodies, partners, and when our lives finally feel “good enough.” But what is good enough? Who gets to decide? And when do we ever reach it?

Jamie takes a sharp, incisive look at the industries that are constantly telling us to do more, be more, and keep striving, pushing, and hustling—and shows you how to radically opt out of societal conditioning.

We’ve learned to be terrified of contentment, thinking it will lead us to complacency. Yet, being content in a world that profits off our dissatisfaction is not complacency. It’s revolutionary.

Radically Content makes the case for a new framework of living. Exploring themes like guilt, I’ll be happy when…, anxiety, settling, control, healing, shame, self-trust, and being our own worst enemies—not only will you unlearn the dogma of that discontent, but learn practical tools to create a more satisfied life for yourself, including:

– Cultivating real self-trust
– Defining your own version of “success”
– Living with intention
– Rewriting your personal narrative
– Creating consistent and healing rituals

Packed with revelatory insights, Radically Content is an exhale. A respite from the chaos of our current world. A calm place to land when you’ve had enough with trying to be enough.


Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment
By: Linda Dillow

Fear and anxiety tend to creep into all areas of women’s lives. We worry about our children, our friends, our careers, our families, our spouses―and the list goes on. It can be a constant struggle to let go and be free from the burden of worry.

Designed to help you finally experience the calm and contentment that the Bible promises, Calm My Anxious Heart is an established and time-tested classic. Filled with solid encouragement and practical help for soothing and processing anxiety, it offers meaningful and helpful ways to refresh your spirit with Scripture and calming insight.

Experience the contentment and joy that comes from trusting God, whether it is through:
Contentment in circumstances
Contentment in self-image
Contentment in relationships
Trusting God with your questions and worries
Now including a 10-week Bible study to help you dig deeper, and a companion journal designed to help you embrace the present and live with joy.

“An incredible tool for anyone seeking to find rest in an anxious and ambitious world.” ―Priscilla Shirer, Bible teacher and author

“A timeless treasure whether you are in a season of great stress or navigating the challenges of daily life.” ―Dr. Juli Slattery, psychologist, cofounder of Authentic Intimacy


Contentment in Chaos: Finding Happiness in Life’s Simple Things
By: Declan Wilson

2020 forced us all to slow down. To spend time indoors with those we care about the most. To reflect on life and shave away the frivolous distractions that keep us from our true desires. This book is for those who struggle to find contentment among the chaos surrounding their lives. Contentment is a superpower, it flies in the face of our evolutionary wiring which programs us to gather more, want more, desire more. Because the more we have, our DNA says, the greater chance of survival we have. Contentment says the opposite: I have enough. Let me enjoy this in peace. In 23 curated essays, author Declan Wilson shares the lessons he’s learned from a tumultuous, yet life-changing, year that have allowed him to set aside ambition and instead find happiness in the simple things.


Contentment: Simplicity + Mindfulness + Gratitude
By: Dr. Matthias A. Brunert

Are STRESS, WORRY, FEAR, and REGRET a part of your life? They don’t have to be!
True CONTENTMENT, having an unshakable inner peace, independent of temporary feelings or external circumstances, is the purest and most pleasant experience of life.
Embodying the characteristic of true contentment is not only reserved for monks living in solitude. It can be internalized by anyone who knows how to live life with the skills of SIMPLICITY, MINDFULNESS, and GRATITUDE.

This book provides you with the best actionable knowledge on how to train simplicity with ESSENTIALISM, mindfulness with MEDITATION, and gratitude by keeping a GRATITUDE JOURNAL.


This Book Won’t Make You Happy: Eight Keys to Finding True Contentment
By: Niro Feliciano

When people find out she is a therapist, Niro Feliciano knows she isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. At soccer games, at cocktail parties, in waiting rooms, people corner her and ask: Why am I so stressed? Is the way I feel normal? Why can’t I just be happy?

The truth is happiness is fleeting, and we are stressing ourselves out trying to achieve it. In This Book Won’t Make You Happy, national media commentator and Psychology Today columnist Feliciano offers a path to something much more achievable and abundantly more satisfying: contentment.

By incorporating eight simple postures rooted in cognitive behavioral science and mindfulness practices into our daily routines, we can move away from anxiety and toward balance and calm. Acceptance, gratitude, connection, a present-focused perspective, intentionality and priority, self-compassion, resilience, and faith: through these practices we will overcome obstacles that hold us back from living full, meaningful, contented lives.

Anxiety, stress, and grief aren’t going away anytime soon, and this book won’t make you happy. But with wit and empathy, Feliciano leads you right past happy to calm. No matter how “happy” your life is–or isn’t–you can reach a deeper, truer, and longer-lasting place of contentment.


“There is a Season: Experiencing Contentment In Every Season of Life”
By: Laurie Cole

Your life is a succession of ever-changing seasons. Like the chapters of a book, each season tells your story. There is a Season is an 8-week Bible study that is designed to help you learn:• How to identify the seasons of your life.• How to discover true satisfaction – contentment – in every season of life.• How to experience joy, meaning, and purpose in every season of life.What season of life are you currently experiencing? How are you responding to God, to others, and to your circumstances in this season? There is a Season will encourage you to pick up the mirror of God’s Word, see the truth about the seasons of your life for yourself, and become a beautiful reflection of the woman God created you to be in every spring, summer, fall and winter of your life.


Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
By: James Clear

Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.

Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.

Learn how to:
– make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
– overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
– design your environment to make success easier;
– get back on track when you fall off course;
…and much more.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits–whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.


The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse
By: Gregg Easterbrook

In The Progress Paradox, Gregg Easterbrook draws upon three decades of wide-ranging research and thinking to make the persuasive assertion that almost all aspects of Western life have vastly improved in the past century–and yet today, most men and women feel less happy than in previous generations.

Detailing the emerging science of “positive psychology,” which seeks to understand what causes a person’s sense of well-being, Easterbrook offers an alternative to our culture of crisis and complaint. He makes a compelling case that optimism, gratitude, and acts of forgiveness not only make modern life more fulfilling but are actually in our self-interest. An affirming and constructive way of seeing life anew, The Progress Paradox will change the way you think about your place in the world–and about our collective ability to make it better.


The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment: Abridged and in Modern English
By: Rob Summers (Jeremiah Burroughs)

Worries, fears, and stress–the people of minister Jeremiah Burroughs’ congregations had them in 1645 during the English Civil War. His call to faithful contentment was a comfort to them then and has been to many readers in the centuries since. Now his classic text has been reworded in modern English and abridged to focus his points for today’s reader. Burroughs’ wisdom from a bygone age may be just what you need now. Another book in this series is Burroughs’ 8 Blessings for Christians.


The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment – Modernized

[ Jeremiah Burroughs ]

PDF: https://www.monergism.com/rare-jewel-christian-contentment-modernized


The Art of Divine Contentment

[ Thomas Watson ]

PDF: https://www.monergism.com/art-divine-contentment


The Art of Divine Contentment: In Modern English
By: Thomas Watson

Is it possible to be content when life is painful and disappointing? The Art of Divine Contentment considers the implications of the Apostle Paul’s claim that he had learned to be content in any situation (Phil 4:11). Our discontent is sinful when we murmur against God and accuse Him of injustice or cruelty. But by frequently beholding God’s sovereignty, love, and grace, we can learn to be more content in all circumstances.

Thomas Watson (1620-1686) was an English Puritan preacher and author. Watson originally published The Art of Divine Contentment around 1660. The source text for this edition is from an 1829 printing by L. B. Seeley and Sons in London. This book is a complete sentence-by-sentence modern update of Watson’s original text. Updates include:

– New descriptive chapter and section headings.
– Modern English sentence structure.
– Modern English vocabulary.
– Added paragraph breaks for topic transitions.
– English Standard Version (ESV) scripture references.
– Full scripture quotations and annotations in footnotes.
– Active table of contents.


The Power of Christian Contentment: Finding Deeper, Richer Christ-Centered Joy
By: Andrew M. Davis

Enjoy a great reading experience when you buy the Kindle edition of this book. Learn more about Great on Kindle, available in select categories.
View Kindle Edition
It may surprise modern Christians that our current problems with discontentedness are anything but new. In 1643, Puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs wrote a work titled “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” that has as much resonance in our day as it did in his. Now pastor and author Andrew M. Davis helps contemporary Christians rediscover the remarkable truths found in this largely forgotten work.

With powerful new illustrations and a keen sense of all that makes modern Christians restless, Davis challenges readers to confront the sources of discontent in their lives and embrace Paul’s teaching on contentment in all circumstances. He gives special attention to maintaining contentment through poverty and prosperity, as well as in our marriages, and offers tips on teaching children how to be content in an age of smartphones and social media.


The Secret of Contentment
By: William B. Barcley

The temptation to be discontent is everywhere. Advertisements bombard us, feeding our dissatisfaction by telling us we are incomplete and unfulfilled. And yet the seeds of discontentment are already present in our own sinful hearts.


The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
By: Stephen Altrogge

With humor and honesty, Stephen Altrogge helps us do battle with discontentment by steering us back to the central truths of the gospel. He addresses issues such as complaining and idolatry, reminding us of all that we have, and will have, in Christ.


Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age
By: Erik Raymond

Recovering the Lost Art of Contentment

The biblical practice of contentment can seem like a lost art―something reserved for spiritual giants but out of reach for the rest of us. In our discontented age―characterized by impatience, overspending, grumbling, and unhappiness―it’s hard to imagine what true contentment actually looks (and feels) like. But even the apostle Paul said that he learned to be content in any and every circumstance. Paul’s remarkable contentment was something grown and developed over time.

In Chasing Contentment, Erik Raymond helps us understand what biblical contentment is―the inward gracious spirit that joyfully rests in God’s providence―and then how we learn it. Giving us practical guidance for growing in contentment in various areas of our lives, this book will encourage us to see contentment as a priority for all believers. By God’s grace, it is possible to pursue the high calling of contentment and anchor our joy in God himself rather than our changing circumstances.


The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World
By: Melissa B. Kruger

The Envy of Eve guides readers to understand how desires grow into covetousness and what happens when this sin takes power in our hearts. Covetousness chokes out the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, allowing discontentment to bloom. The key to overcoming is to get to the root of our problem: unbelief–a mistrust of God’s sovereignty and goodness. An ideal resource for deeper study or group discussion.


Contentment: A Godly Woman’s Adornment
By: Lydia Brownback

This On-the-Go Devotional assures women that contentment is not some fleeting ideal but a reality that God enables them to live out daily.

Any woman who buys into the lie of “You can have it all” or who thinks she can only be happy “if…” experiences an abiding frustration: what she wants remains just out of reach, always. No matter how good she has it, no matter how good the good times may get, there’s always something missing. And ultimately, she misses out on happiness too.

But God desires something far better and more lasting for his daughters. And he’s delivered the secret in his Word, assuring women that real satisfaction is found in living for and longing for the right things. Those truths and promises are at the heart of this On-the-Go Devotional for women. Each lesson in Contentment is conveniently self-contained and comes complete with Scripture and a paragraph or two of teaching to direct women away from fleeting distractions and toward a true, enduring satisfaction.

On-the-Go Devotionals
“Skillful devotionals for those who face the challenge to ‘fit it all in.’ Biblically rigorous and deeply perceptive. Godly insights from a godly sister.”
Elyse Fitzpatrick, author of Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life

“A ready resource for keeping our thinking focused on God himself. The devotionals helped me understand my fear or discontent and our Heavenly Father’s provision.”
Barbara Hughes, author of Disciplines of a Godly Woman and, with her husband, Disciplines of a Godly Family

“Lydia Brownback calls Christian women to lift their eyes upward and find security, rest, and peace in a sovereign God whose promises never fail!”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, author and Revive Our Hearts radio host


Success God’s Way: Achieving True Contentment And Purpose
By: Charles F. Stanley

“Success is defined by a continuing desire to be the person God called you to be and to achieve those goals that God helps you to set,” says Charles Stanley. In Success God’s Way, Stanley teaches God’s principles for success, including ten steps to help you reach God’s goals in your life, and what to do about the seven success blockers that entangle believers.

“Dr. Stanley has defined success in a timeless manner?knowing and doing the will of God. When a person knows Christ personally and consistently obeys the principles of Scripture, he is prepared for success God’s way.” Franklin Graham, Chairman and CEO, Samaritan’s Purse; CEO, Billy Graham evangelistic Association

“In a society that increasingly judges the success of individuals by the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the club they belong to, or the career they choose, the church desperately needs to reaffirm biblical standards. Once again, Dr. Stanley has brought clear focus to a timely issue. Success God’s Way challenges readers to reexamine whether or not they are sacrificing genuine, lasting success on the altar of a worldly, temporary counterfeit and therefore sesttling for a lot less than what God wants to give them.” Anne Graham Lotz, International Bible Teacher and Bestselling Author

“In an age when our thinking is skewed, our zeal is waning, and our desire for excellence is deadened by apathetic self-centeredness, this book presents many biblical insights that challenge us to hear God’s Word to Joshua to meditate on God’s Word and be strong and courageous so we can have success.” Kay Arthur, Precept Ministries International


The Contentment Journal
By: Rachel Cruze

1 New York Times best-selling author Rachel Cruze guides you on a 90-day journey toward contentment–one where you actually love your life and not someone else’s.

Let’s be honest: We’ve all compared ourselves to others. You scroll through social media and see someone’s latest vacation and think, “Must be nice…” Just like that, you feel like your life isn’t good enough. Rachel knows the struggle is real because she’s experienced the same thing.

So, she created a 90-day journal to help you stop comparing your life to others and be happier than you’ve ever been.

The Contentment Journal is divided into 30-day increments:

– The first 30 days focus on gratitude – where you’ll recognize the blessings in your life.
– The next 30 days focus on humility – where you’ll think of others more and of yourself a little less.
– The last 30 days focus on contentment – where you’ll be happy for others and not want what they have.

Study after study backs up that your relationships, health, decision-making skills, kindness, and even sleep can get better with gratitude. The Contentment Journal will help you grow and change in ways you can’t yet imagine.

Through personal stories and daily writing prompts, Rachel will guide you day by day, week by week to feeling more thankful. Motivational quotes and reflection pages will encourage you to keep going!

If you give Rachel 5-10 minutes a day for 90 days, she’ll help you adjust your whole outlook, so you avoid the comparisons and experience lasting contentment.


Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World
By: Max Lucado

Does the uncertainty and chaos of life keep you up at night? Is irrational anxiety your constant companion? Let God help you win the war on worry and receive the lasting peace of Christ.

We all encounter anxiety, but we don’t have to let worry and fear control our lives. Anxious for Nothing, from New York Times bestselling author, Max Lucado, provides a roadmap for battling with and healing from anxiety. Anxious for Nothing invites readers to delve into Philippians 4:6-7—the most highlighted passage of any book on the planet according to Amazon—

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In this book, Max will help you:

– Celebrate God’s goodness
– Ask God for help
– Leave your concerns with God
– Meditate on good things

Stop letting anxiety rule the day. Join Max on the journey to true freedom and experience more joy, clarity, physical renewal, and contentment by the power of the Holy Spirit.


Contentment: The Secret to a Lasting Calm
By: Richard Swenson

In a world that honors outward achievement, tells people they’ll never have enough, and encourages an impossibly busy life, peace and contentment can feel like a distant dream. But Dr. Richard Swenson, the best-selling author of Margin, shows that it really is possible. We can experience the contentment we long for―the peace, the fulfillment, the joy. But it is found in only one place: in Christ. Come along on a journey of discovery and uncover the simple truths and practices that inspire a truly contented life.


Looking for Contentment in All the Wrong Places: A Bible Study of Joy and Contentment
By: Luann Rogers

When Eve was in the garden she was content – until she took her eyes off the many blessings God had given her – a beautiful home, a loving husband, and a caring heavenly Father. Her contentment vanished only after she focused on the one thing she was not supposed to have. How often do we do this? Despite the many blessings that God gives, we look around for things we don’t (or maybeshouldn’t) have. What happens then? We grow dissatisfied with the blessings we do have. What makes you discontent? If you set your eyes only on Jesus, could you be truly content? Searching for Contentment explores what God’s word reveals about the things that cause us to be discontented, and focuses on how we can learn to be content with the joy and blessings He offers in Christ.


The Classroom of Contentment: Where You Learn That God Is Enough
By: Niki Lott

Have you ever struggled to be content with your circumstances, your relationships, or even with yourself? How can we learn, as Paul did, to be truly content? In this study, the author shares her personal struggles in the “classroom” of infertility, and the comforting lessons of peace and satisfaction that can be found in the Word of God. No matter our circumstances, God desires that we be content. This study will encourage you to open your Bible and learn the lessons of true contentment.This book contains an optional teaching guide if you desire to share it in a group or class setting. Companion student books are available separately.


The Quest for Contentment
By: Various Artists

The Quest for Contentment was written with the intent to identify the origin of contentment and learn how to live a life of contentment. Man must endeavor, through God’s Word, to “learn” contentment.


Finding Contentment in a Chaotic World
By: Karen D. Nutter

This is a book that combines deep wisdom and practical exercises that can forever change your life. In Finding Contentment in a Chaotic World, Karen Nutter walks you down the path of letting go of fear, knowing and accepting who you are, and developing the practices necessary to find inner peace. Based on years of coaching executives, managers, and people from all walks of life, her teachings are simple, relatable, and like a breath of fresh air in our all-too-often chaotic world.


Contentment: Seeing God’s Goodness
By: Megan Hill

Discontent easily arises when our desires aren’t met and our plans don’t come true—but this is a dangerous path that drives us away from God. While the world insists that satisfying our desires is the path to fulfillment, this daily devotional teaches us the value of seeking contentment instead, providing practical approaches to cultivating thankfulness in specific life circumstances that make discontent easy.

In the 31-Day Devotionals for Life series, biblical counselors and Bible teachers guide you through Scripture passages that speak to specific situations or struggles, helping you to apply God’s Word to your life in practical ways day after day.


Learning Contentment: A Study for Ladies of Every Age
By: Nancy Wilson

We tend to think being “stressed out” is a normal state of affairs, and that contentment means sitting back and just bottling things up. For the Christian, however, contentment is something we must apply, work at, and make our own in every circumstance, because anxiety and frustration are not neutral behaviors.
It is certainly easier to go with our natural impulses when times are very hard or even just “annoying,” but contentment is an important part of our Christian life. Even the apostle Paul had to “learn” contentment. So we shouldn’t wonder why we’re still in spiritual kindergarten — repeating the same lessons over and over again — if we haven’t given ourselves to study contentment.

Thankfully, every test God gives on contentment is open book (even the pop quizzes!). In Learning Contentment, Nancy Wilson looks to the Bible and Puritans like Jeremiah Burroughs, Samuel Rutherford, Thomas Watson, and Charles Spurgeon to help us develop the practical, spiritual strength and the perspective that comes from contentment’s deep satisfaction with the will of God.

This encouraging little book follows after Nancy Wilson’s Virtuous: A Study for Ladies of Every Age. Learning Contentment includes concise explanations, application questions and assignments that will involve and challenge everyone, and lots of biblical wisdom for individuals and groups.


How Much Land Does a Man Need?
By: Leo Tolstoy

‘How Much Land Does a Man Need?’ is a short story by Leo Tolstoy. A peasant overhears his wife and sister-in-law argue over the merits of town and peasant farm life. He thinks to himself “if I had plenty of land, I shouldn’t fear the Devil himself!”. Unbeknownst to him, Satan is present sitting behind the stove and listening.

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

SPECIAL ‘GENERAL’ RESOURCE

ApologetiX Songbook
(An interactive PDF)

It features the lyrics to every song on every CD and every “download” from 1993-2020

Special features:

  • indexed by title, original song, original artist, subject, and Bible verse
  • each song’s page has icons showing what albums it appears on
  • each song’s page has a commentary from lyricist J. Jackson
  • each album’s page includes liner notes and track listing
  • print any pages you like or use for slides in church
  • photos from ApologetiX’s debut concert in 1992
  • discography of out-of-print cassettes
  • downloadable in PDF format

New features in this edition:

  • all song commentaries from J. Jackson updated and expanded
  • also indexed by year when the original song spoofed was a hit
  • J.’s original handwritten rough lyrics to 40 ApX classics
  • scads of photos from ApX 25th-anniversary concerts
  • list of 40 ApX parodies most likely to be redone
  • over 200 new parodies and journal entries
  • list of the first ApX concerts in each state
  • six new full-length feature articles
  • DVD discography and synopses
  • never-before-seen rare photos
  • lyrics for over 700 parodies
  • over 1000 pages!

Interactive features:

  • click on any page number in indexes or TOC to go to that page
  • click on any album icon to go to its liner notes and track listings
  • click on any song title on an album page to go to that song

Note: This e-book is a download-only and doesn’t include sheet music.

The songbook is available for a donation of $50 or more. After we receive your donation, we’ll send you a follow-up email with the link.

Get the Songbook for a donation:
http://www.apologetix.com/store/store.php#songbook

Songbook Demo Video: https://rumble.com/vfazhl-apologetix-songbook-2020-demo.html


“THE SEARCH FOR MEANING” WEBSITE

This site presents discussions on the 12 most commonly asked questions about the Christian faith.

The 12 discussions are accessed by the “tabs” at the bottom of the page. The tabs are numbered 1-12. Roll your mouse over them and you will see the question displayed at the right. Click on the number to select that question.

Within each question (i.e. tabs 1-12), there are subtopics (or dialogues) to select that appear as smaller tabs underneath the numbered tabs. Roll your mouse over them and the title of these topics is also displayed to the right. Click on the open rectangle to select that dialogue.

For each question (1-12), a link to related resources and an optional flowchart is provided. To access this material, click on the respective words, “Related Resources” or “Options Flowchart.”

To play a more detailed discussion of the subject, between two people, select the desired dialogue and click on “Play Audio Dialogue.”

In the upper right-hand corner of the page, there is an icon that looks like binoculars looking at a question mark. Click on this icon to return to the homepage.

In the upper right-hand corner of a “Related Resources” page, there is an icon that looks like some books. Click on this icon to get to an “overview” page that has links to all of the resources for all of the questions. There also are additional “appendices” for most of the questions.

In the upper right-hand corner of a “Flowchart” page, there is an icon that looks like an Org chart. Click on this icon to get to an “overview” page that has links to all of the flowcharts.

http://4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q1_d1_1of10.html

[ Content by: Bill Kraftson and Lamar Smith; Website by Mark Besh ]


“FRUITS OF THE BEATITUDES” WEBSITE
(The ATTITUDES of Jesus that produce the CHARACTER of Jesus)

CLICK ON THE LINK to view:
http://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/

FACEBOOK PAGE:
https://www.facebook.com/FruitsOfTheBeatitudes/

[ Mark Besh ]


[ P.S.: If you would like to investigate further what the Bible says about ‘contentment’, visit the following link:
http://www.4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q1_d1_1of10.html ].


<<< ARTICLES >>>


“How to Live a Contented Life”

MOTIVATIONAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ymeRSfVgvs


“Contentment and satisfaction with work and life”

TEDx Talk

[ Greg Gianforte ]

PRESENTATION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7Mctx-W7oE


“How to Be Happy Every Day: It Will Change the World”

The World Happiness Report states “Over 1 billion adults suffer from anxiety and depression.” How do we get to happy? Jacqueline Way, Founder of http://www.365give.ca shares a secret to happiness so simple a 3 – year old can do it. Jacqueline is a mother of three boys and social good activist dedicated to changing the world 1 give, 1 day at a time. You will learn through her powerful story how your body is hard-wired for giving. Researchers from all over the world have been studying the science and physiological of giving for decades. They’ve discovered giving makes you happy, makes you high, is our bodies natural “Fountain of Youth” and reduces stress. Her inspirational journey with her son and thousands of children will inspire you start a daily giving habit that will make you happy and change the world.

[ Jacqueline Way ]

PRESENTATION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78nsxRxbf4w


“How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others”

If social media has been depressing and you’re ready to stop comparing yourself to everyone else, I have a few ideas to start.

[ Amy Landino ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDbU6lhuJO4


“How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others | 10 Ways To Stop The Comparison Cycle | Ryan Reflects”

How do you stop comparing yourself to others? Dr. Ryan Corte shares with you 10 ways to stop the comparison cycle so you can live your life to the fullest!

[ Ryan Corte ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5zQsDaki_A


“How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others”

It’s really hard to be on social media and not compare yourself to others. Your body isn’t good enough, your wardrobe isn’t trendy enough, and your house isn’t Pottery-Barn enough. It might even make you feel like you aren’t enough.

I’m talking to myself too. I’m totally fascinated and intrigued by how these beautiful, successful people live their lives. If I’m not careful, I can wind up spending hours a week scrolling through the lives of these people I may or may not even know, and it leaves me feeling not so great about myself.

So, several years ago, I made a goal to stop comparing myself to others. And let me tell you: It hasn’t been easy. With 24/7 access to view the best parts of everyone else’s lives right on my phone, I know exactly how I measure up against every other mom, wife and speaker with a social media account.

Comparisons steal our joy, our paychecks and our sanity. If we don’t stop comparing ourselves to others, we will constantly spend money and mental energy just trying to keep up! We need to break the comparison cycle because it’s a game we’ll never win.

The Root of Comparison
There’s actually a biological reason we’re prone to comparing ourselves to others. Our brain uses comparison to figure out how we measure up to other people.

book
Your mental health matters. Order Own Your Past, Change Your Future today!

Thomas Mussweiler, a professor of organizational behavior, describes comparison this way: “It’s one of the most basic ways we develop an understanding of who we are, what we’re good at, and what we’re not so good at.”

Most of the time, this calculation is made in a split second in the background, and we don’t even realize it. But when we dwell on the highlights of other people’s lives, it can quickly become toxic. We’re wired for connection and belonging, but if we constantly compare ourselves to others, we’re putting our happiness, confidence and mental health at risk.

Real-Life Effects of Comparing Yourself to Others
There are so many negative effects of the comparison trap, and I’m sure you’ve felt them before. Here are a few that I’ve seen time and time again:

Negative and anxious thoughts that are hard to come out of (known as rumination)
Higher rates of anxiety and depression1
Overspending in effort to keep up with the Joneses
Study after study has shown that people feel worse about themselves after spending time on social media. And all that negativity is taking its toll on our mental health and our bank accounts.

A recent study found that keeping up with the Joneses causes financial distress. And they discovered that, in neighborhoods where someone won the lottery, their neighbors were more likely to make large, visible purchases and—this is crazy to me—go bankrupt!2

You guys, these bankruptcies were 100% avoidable. This isn’t a money issue—it’s a heart issue. Those people saw their neighbors get an upgrade in lifestyle and, all of a sudden, they thought they needed one too—even though they couldn’t afford it.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a little luxury as long as it fits in your budget. However, when you pile up a bunch of stuff and go neck-deep into debt to buy it all just to impress your neighbor (in person or on Instagram), you don’t even really own your stuff—it owns you. The debt takes over and steals all your income, and you suddenly become a servant to the things you thought would make you happy.

I don’t want you to form decisions out of comparing yourself to others. So, if you’re ready to put the blinders on, stop comparing yourself to everyone else, and focus on your life, I want to show you how.

8 Practical Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
This is something I’m still working on myself. However, I can share with you some specific steps I’ve taken and principles I’ve applied to my own life to help me take my eyes off of other people and put them back on creating a life I love.

  1. Practice gratitude.
    This one habit changed everything for me. Several years ago, I opened the Notes app on my phone and typed out three things I could be grateful for right then and there. I wrote:

Early, quiet mornings before anyone is awake. My health. Coffee.

Those were the first three things that came to mind. I didn’t spend much time analyzing or dwelling on the goodness of my life. And I certainly didn’t shed a tear. This was not a Hallmark-movie moment! I’m not sure I even felt much change at the time.

But now? That Notes app is my lifeline.

What started as a simple gratitude experiment has grown to encompass every kind of joy—both big and small—that floods my life. I add to the list each morning, and I revisit the list whenever I need a reminder of God’s care and blessings in my life.

  1. Unlock the power of contentment.
    Gratitude leads to contentment, which allows you to be in a state of joy and satisfaction no matter what your circumstances. You’re happy with where you are in life and aren’t worried about what other people are doing.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have goals for the future or that you aren’t working toward being a better person tomorrow than you are today. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you’re stagnant or that you’re choosing to sit around and do nothing new, exciting and challenging with your life. It just means that you develop a peace about your life and a sincere enjoyment about what you have today without basing all your happiness on what you hope to achieve tomorrow.

  1. Don’t compare your life to everyone else’s highlight reel.
    Are you ready for my most shocking observation yet? Social media doesn’t always reflect reality. Boom. (I know you know this, but have you ever really thought about it?)

It’s usually not the complete picture of someone’s life—it’s just the highlight reel.

We’re spending all this money and emotional energy just to keep up with a life we think everyone else is living and we’re missing out on. And that is ruining not only our mental health, but our financial security as well.

Once you take your focus off of them and put it back on your own life, you can start to turn things around with your life and money.

  1. Focus on your strengths.
    You can be humble and still recognize your strengths, talents and accomplishments. You don’t have to beat yourself up to be humble. In fact, that’s a pretty unhealthy approach, and it’s one of the biggest dangers of comparison living. The more we compare ourselves to others, the worse we feel about ourselves. That’s a dangerous trap we’ve got to avoid.

Try writing down three things you really like about yourself—things you can identify as strengths. Don’t just write “good people skills” like you’d put on a boring resume. Make them personal! Here are three of mine:

I’m proactive. I like accomplishing things, so whether it’s responding to edits on my next book or making dinner reservations, I’m always looking ahead and taking action.

I love people. I may or may not have won Brentwood High School’s “friendliest” superlative of my senior class. I really have always enjoyed being around people! Embracing this strength gives me the ability to make people feel loved and cared for when they hang out with me.

I’m an amazing baby sleep trainer. Seriously. If I wasn’t doing what I do for a living, I’d start a business around sleep training babies. What can I say? It’s a gift. And it’s a good one.

Why do you handle money the way you do? Take the quiz!
Take the Quiz!

  1. Celebrate other people.
    Constantly comparing ourselves to others leads to us not cheering on the people who are working hard to get somewhere. And it makes it hard to celebrate with the ones who’ve accomplished something!

So, here’s my challenge to you: When a friend tells you about her new job, be happy for her. If someone buys a new house, take part in their enthusiasm. If someone shares some great news with you, keep the focus on them instead of turning it back to yourself. Find big and small ways to celebrate other people’s accomplishments!

The Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15, NIV). Don’t feel like you’re losing just because someone else is winning. Their success has nothing to do with you, so celebrate their success sincerely while you keep working toward your own success.

  1. Learn to compete with yourself instead of others.
    Instead of focusing on where you are compared to others, focus on your own goals. Where are you compared to where you were at this time last year? Or five years ago?

One of the reasons I journal is because it does wonderful things for my sanity. It gives me clarity and perspective about God’s blessings in my life. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun to go back and thumb through the pages of old journals to see how much I’ve grown.

In the past year, you’ve learned, stretched, improved, accomplished and created. Think about how much of that you’ve done in your lifetime! If you’re like me and you’ve kept journals, go back through them. If you haven’t, there’s no better time to start journaling than today.

  1. Have boundaries around how much time you spend on social media.
    As we’ve been talking about, comparison through social media can have a massive effect on our mental well-being. Here are some boundaries you can put in place to protect yourself:

Unfollow any accounts that tend to make you feel bad about yourself.
Set a timer and allow yourself to scroll for 30 minutes. When time is up, step away from social media, my friend.

Turn off your phone when you’re having dinner with your family and friends. Being fully present with them will make everyone happier!

Don’t feel obligated to reply to every comment and message—ain’t nobody got time for that.

When you feel a pull to check social media, ask yourself why. Are you bored, uncomfortable or seeking affirmation? What can you do to feel better instead?

  1. Take a social media fast.
    I can tell you this from experience: It’s almost impossible to be satisfied with your own life if you’re constantly looking at what someone else has.

If you’re struggling to appreciate the blessings in your life, and if you’re constantly distracted by the #blessings of other people, it may be time to put some serious blinders on for a little while.

So, here’s my biggest challenge for you: Shut off all the social networks. And while you’re at it, unsubscribe from all those email newsletters that show you how much you’re “missing.”

Spend that time and energy focusing on how much you truly have. Look at your family, your friends, your home, your job, and all the things in your life that really matter. Find things in your own life that someone else may be jealous of. Remember, if we’re all looking at each other, that means plenty of people are comparing themselves to everything you have. Figure out what those blessings are and rejoice in all you have.

Does Comparison Affect My Daily Life?
Here are some questions to help you figure out if comparing yourself to others is a problem for you:

Have you ever made an impulse purchase on Instagram?
Do you get FOMO (fear of missing out), or even anxiety, after spending time on social media?

When something good happens to someone else, is your natural reaction to be annoyed?

Have you ever deleted something from social media because it didn’t get the response you wanted?

Do you check who’s viewed your Instagram story or liked your Facebook post several times a day?

If you answered yes to a bunch of these, no shame here! I’m just as prone to falling into the comparison trap as anyone. I’m guilty of worrying what other people think about me too.

But you and I were made for more than that. We were made for more than stressing and spending and feeling like we’re failing! I want us all to live life on our own terms.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others Anymore
Focus on the quality of your life, not the quantity of your likes.

Keeping up with the Joneses shouldn’t be the motivation behind why you do anything—on social media or otherwise. Stressing over likes will cause you to spend time, effort and money for approval you don’t need.In Isaiah 43:1, the Lord promised us: “I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”I know comparison will always be a struggle—for me just as much as anyone! But we don’t belong to other people who like our pictures. I belong to a God who loves me, and so do you.

If you’re ready to fight back against comparison, try journaling. Yes, I’m serious. This is how you put the steps I talked about above into practice every day! My Contentment Journal will help you focus on your own life and become a happier person in just 90 days. I guarantee this journal will help you adjust your whole outlook so you avoid the comparisons and experience lasting contentment.

[ Rachel Cruze ]


“Stop comparing yourself to others: do these 10 things instead”

Even though most of us try not to, we’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. We can make comparisons like, “I wish I dressed like so-and-so,” or, “I wish I were as rich as them.”

This is often unconscious, but it’s important to try to train ourselves to stop. While it may motivate us to better ourselves, constantly comparing ourselves to others can lead to negative thoughts.

Why do I compare myself to others?
Human beings are social creatures, and comparison is common throughout our entire history.

Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook bombard us with posts about what we lack. These apps are comparison traps that encourage us to question aspects of our own lives.

It’s easy to forget that social media is a highlight reel of other people’s lives. We see their best moments, but don’t usually witness their struggles.

We often compare our lesser qualities with a person’s best qualities, skewing our judgment.

How does comparison affect my life?
Too much comparison leads to unhappiness and low self-esteem. We become frustrated with ourselves for “not being good enough,” or angry with others.

Some real-life examples of comparisons are:

You see another woman walk down the street and think, “I wish I were as pretty as her.”
You see a celebrity posting on Instagram about their workout and tell yourself, “If only my body looked like his.”
A coworker is giving a presentation, and you can’t help saying, “She’s a way better public speaker than I am.”

Feelings of jealousy, frustration, and hopelessness emerge if comparisons continue. If left unaddressed, chronic anxiety and depression can stem from such behavior.

To avoid comparisons, people may look for others’ faults to make themselves feel better. This is just as unhealthy as tearing yourself apart for what you don’t have or don’t look like.

I want to stop comparing myself to others: what do I do?
To halt the comparison habit, focus on bettering yourself and boosting your confidence. Try to train your mind to step away from unfavorable comparisons. Seek instead to embrace kindness and a positive attitude. It’s hard work, but it pays off.

Here are some things you can do to take the initiative to stop comparing yourself to others.

  1. Be aware of your triggers and avoid them
    To improve your mental health and emotional well-being, list out the situations and circumstances that make you sad or cynical. Social media isn’t the only thing harming our self-esteem.

Is there someone in your life who often puts you down? Or maybe you feel inadequate when a colleague brags. Perhaps there’s a specific place that makes you feel bad, like wandering through an expensive store at the mall.

Once you are aware of situations that make you likely to engage in comparisons, you can take action to avoid them.

  1. Limit your time on social media
    Social media keeps us up to date on our family and friends, current events, and raises awareness. But like most things, it’s best in moderation. Over scrolling on social media, especially when consuming lifestyle and beauty content, can have negative effects on our self-worth.

Unfollow accounts that cause you to compare yourself to others. Turn off your phone after a certain time of day and don’t respond to every message or comment you receive.

Ask yourself if you could spend your time on social media more constructively instead. Could you read a book? Go for a walk? Call a friend?

  1. Avoid comparing other peoples’ “outsides” to your own “insides”
    No one truly knows what’s happening behind the scenes in someone else’s life. Everyone is facing their own struggles.

Happy-Woman-Smiling-comparing-yourself-to-others

  1. Remind yourself that “money doesn’t buy happiness”
    There is a relationship between mental health and money. But one thing is true: money doesn’t buy happiness. Despite being bombarded with ads that say otherwise, money doesn’t guarantee permanent happiness. Watching celebrities live luxurious lifestyles can lead us to believe that money will solve our problems, but it rarely does. Instead, it only buys temporary joy.
  2. Count your blessings
    Be grateful for what you have. Someone’s life may seem better, but there might be another person out there wishing they had what you had. There’s always something, even just one thing, for which you can be thankful. Implement these strategies to fine-tune your gratitude practice.
  3. Use comparison as motivation
    Comparisons can be a great catalyst for change, so long as it’s healthy. Instead of feeling envious of other people’s accomplishments, think about how they were able to achieve them. Then, see how you can replicate them.

Being inspired by someone you know to be kinder or more open-minded can lead you to be a better person.

  1. Focus on your strengths
    It’s okay to be humble, but you should also be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Too much humility is just as harmful as too much self-confidence.

Make a list of what you like about yourself. Writing things down can help us recognize and accept the truth instead of speaking it aloud. You can be as general or as specific as you like, and let this list serve as a reminder of your strengths.

Successful-Student-Proud-Of-Diploma-comparing-yourself-to-others

  1. Celebrate other people too
    We must be our biggest supporters, but self-advocacy can coexist with supporting others. Spread positivity by cheering on your friends and coworkers for their milestones.
  2. Remember that insecurities are universal
    It’s normal for you to compare yourself to others. We all experience self-doubts and fears that get the best of us now and then. Even the most confident people feel insecure sometimes.
  3. Use your past self as a benchmark of comparison
    The only real competition you have is who you were yesterday, who you were last month, or who you were a year ago. You’ll be able to see real growth through retrospection and be proud of your growth.

Inspiring quotations to defeat comparisons
Happy-Women-With-Different-Hairstyle-comparing-yourself-to-others

Here are some wise words from others that are sure to help spark that urge to stop comparing your life to others and appreciate your amazing self just a little bit more.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Rosevelt.

“Stop comparing yourself to other people: you are an original. We are all different and it’s okay.” – Joyce Meyer.

“I don’t want other people to decide what I am. I want to decide that for myself.” – Emma Waston.

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.” – Dr. Seuss.

The bottom line
The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself. Your efforts should focus on growing from within, being kinder, more resilient, working hard, and being more open instead of whether or not your hair is long enough or you’re as strong as someone else.

BetterUp was created to help us understand ourselves and take charge of our own lives. Clarity, purpose, and passion, and the tools to go after what matters to you.

BetterUp focuses on human transformation, championing personal growth, social connections, and mental fitness, all in the name of internalizing healthy self-care practices. If you’re willing to put in the work, we’re here to guide you through this crazy journey called life.

[ Elizabeth Perry ]


“How to Stop Obsessively Comparing Yourself To Others and Coming Up Short”

Part of Kathy Caprino’s Brave Up video series, dedicated to helping you dig deep, discover your true self, and illuminate the world with it.

[ Kathy Caprino ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bt8XdqodTYQ


“The Culture of Comparison | TEDxWakeForestU”

Bea Arthur discusses popular culture and the effects of technology on our happiness. She suggests that it is our alignment towards a greater cause more than anything else that will lead us to more fulfilling lives.

Bea Arthur is a therapist, entrepreneur, and women’s advocate, owner and creator of two wellness-based businesses and a private counseling practice. Arthur is the CEO of In Your Corner, an online therapy resource and international company that helps thousands each year. In Your Corner has transformed traditional therapy into an experience that is approachable, affordable and accessible for everyone.

[ Bea Arthur ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wm3D1L2V9do


“The Truth About Comparing Yourself to Others”

Life’s Contradictions Episode 3: Comparisons

We’ve all heard it before: “Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.” It’s not bad advice, but it’s somewhat misguided. The truth about comparing yourself to others is that it’s actually near impossible to stop subconsciously doing it. Whether it’s on social media or with the new people you meet, it’ll most likely happen. So a different way to approach it is to transform your mindset!

[ Dreamlet ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quKO6q3k9h4


“The Truth Behind Why We Are Always Comparing Ourselves To Others”

At the heart of most of our problems, both within and without, is fear and insecurity.

We fear that if others really knew us that they would neither love us nor like us. We fail to see our own value, while simultaneously thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. What a weird paradox that most of us live in!

As a person becomes aware of their own thoughts and shortcomings, we tend to focus on those things. Commercials call attention to our lack of white teeth, our bad breath, our lack of hair, and an assortment of other physical defects that are common to all of us.

This type of social comparison is often painful and rarely sparks any real change in our lives. That’s because it makes us feel defeated right out of the gate.

The truth, though, is that we really are living with different paradoxes. We are good enough – but we can get better. Comparing ourselves to others as a target can be a powerful tool. The difference really is in the heart. Are you comparing out of fear and insecurity – or out of desire to improve?

Both of these paradoxes reveal the truth for why you should stop comparing yourself to others.

Paradox 1: Social Comparison Based on Fear and Insecurities
Obviously, this is the harmful version of social comparison. In old times, this might be called coveting what belongs to others. We get angry when someone gets the promotion over us, has a nicer car, or has a skill or talent that we wish we had at our own disposal.

Strong feelings that we deserve more can lead us to fear that we will never be good enough, or that we simply deserve what the other person has in their possession. This fear often leads to great discontentment, which if left to itself, can lead to bitterness.

Related Why Being Nice Doesn’t Mean You’re Being Weak
Bitterness is a dangerous emotion. It causes us to begin having immense pity parties and can rob the heart of its passion. Often, this bitterness causes us to find faults with this person where we explain WHY they simply don’t deserve whatever it is that they have.

When bitterness takes root, anger wells up. Many who fall into this trap will long to see that person robbed. When we live out of fear and insecurities, all of life seems hopeless and joyless. Our thoughts start to gravitate to an idea that we are never good enough so we might as well give up.

Examples in our world are plentiful. An ex-spouse despises the happiness of their ex and finds multiple flaws in the new lover. A star high school quarterback who never went pro finds reasons that the NFL quarterback should be riding the bench.

We feel that we can never be enough so we do the bare minimum to survive. We never get promoted, we never get healthier, and we never have a joy filled family life. With bitterness as the core of their existence, there can be NO happiness.

Life seems like a waste. Yet we can get bogged down here and live out this paradox for a lifetime while it eats away at our very souls. Passion dies slowly and we die muttering, “what if…”

Paradox 2: Social Comparison Out of Desire to Improve
Watching someone who is fantastic at what they do is awe-inspiring. I remember watching a man who had totally mastered Robert’s Rules of Order. The meetings he would lead were not only orderly, they were impactful and awesome. To be honest, I have rarely been whimsical enough and rarely studious enough to get to his level of proficiency.

Related Family and Politics in the Aftermath of the 2016 Election
But seeing him lead made me want to be better at leading meetings. I felt motivated. Think of how it feels to see an athlete do what is reported as impossible. Doesn’t that just kick you in the bottom to get up a little earlier, to train a little longer, or study a little more? Again, to be totally honest, it does not even need to be real people doing awesome things to get me pumped up.

Watching movies with action stars filled with courage and boldness fulfill a difficult mission or demonstrate great honor makes me want to be more.

Yet, I must look in the mirror each morning knowing that I am falling short of my potential. This may keep me humble, but the vision of superheroes accomplishing great things starts to make that image in the mirror a bit hazy. While I am not fearing or fretting, I am also not content to stay the way I am.

My family deserves more. My community deserves more. I choose to never be satisfied with who I am today, because I know that my future self is better. My future self can do what today seems to be impossible.

How Social Comparison Can Be Healthy
Now what? So what do we do with these paradoxes that so often keep us bound?
First, be intentional about your comparisons. I have chosen twelve men and women from history that I study and strive to emulate with my character, my judgments, and my training. I call them my dead people council. As I step into situations, I wonder how they might look at the situation.

Related How To Change Your Perspective on Budgeting

Beethoven often would look at a situation very different than Napoleon or Mother Theresa. I can look at more options that way and I will be able to make the best decision possible.

Second, watch and listen to the world and what is going around you. Many in our culture simply write off politicians or intellectuals that we don’t agree with. Often, we will not look to the training of those in a sport that does not interest us.

What a mistake! Take time to learn from all sources. Listen to others. You may never agree with them and may never have a passion for their sport; but something in what they are doing is a teachable moment.

This again is a healthy form of social comparison. As I watch other leaders, I see what I might do. But I also sometimes learn of things that I would never want to do. Either way, I win because I have learned from it.

Finally, read like a mad person. One of my favorite hobbies is to walk the aisles of book stores, particularly old book stores. I don’t have to buy anything. But inspiration and dreams can be seen in the titles and in short screenings of the books on the shelves.

Reading blog posts, book summaries, watching videos, and taking courses are all things that are in our world that gives us a healthy visual to compare ourselves and inspire us to do more.

~

All our lives, we always feel either secure or insecure. It’s time to stop comparing yourself to others. Once you understand the paradoxes of social comparison, you can choose the path for yourself. Which reason will you give when the day is done?

[ Rich Schaus ]


“To overcome challenges, stop comparing yourself to others”

When you stop comparing yourself to others, you can accomplish great things, says wheelchair athlete Dean Furness. He shares how, after losing the use of his legs in an accident, he discovered a powerful new mindset focused on redefining his “personal average” and getting better little by little.

[ Dean Furness ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOrmS8vJDQw


“5 Things You Need to Remember When You’re Feeling Discouraged // Stop Feeling Discouraged”

When things get hard it’s easy to get discouraged and then give up – but giving up won’t help you move forward or have what you want most in life. Here are 5 things you need to know when you’re feeling discouraged that will help you stay focused, motivated and moving forward toward the things that are important to you.

[ Julia Kristina ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vowNKr5MrU0


“Don’t Get Discouraged”

[ Steve Harvey ]

MOTIVATIONAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHCbTmjX5y0


“13 Things to Do Instead of Comparing Yourself to Others”

“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.” ~Shannon L. Alder

You know it already.

You know you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. Yet, that’s often easier said than done.

Job title, income, grades, house, and Facebook likes—the number of categories in which we can compare ourselves to others are infinite. So is the number of people we can compare ourselves to.

Comparison is generally the fast track to unhappiness. It’s a recipe for misery. All it does is keeping you focused on what you don’t like about yourself and your life.

Ever since I made the decision to change careers, I’ve tried to focus on my new path. I’ve pictured myself as a horse with blinders, because I knew that looking too much on the sides would only keep me side-tracked.

It worked for a while. While I was out traveling for a year I kept my eyes on the prize, so to speak. But, when I came back home again, it wasn’t so easy anymore.

I caught myself glancing over to what other people had, and I didn’t. Where they were in life and I wasn’t. I had made the decision to rebuild my life from scratch, so of course, I was “behind” when comparing myself to my friends.

The more I focused on their path, and not my own, the more I lost control. Eventually, I reached a point where I questioned my decision, and that’s when I knew I had to change perspective quickly.

Here are thirteen simple ways to stop comparing yourself to others:

  1. Water your own grass.
    When we focus on other people, we lose time that we could otherwise invest in ourselves. We don’t grow green grass by focusing on our neighbor’s garden, we do it nurturing our own. So, instead of wasting time comparing your path to someone else’s, spend it investing, creating, and caring for your own.
  2. Accept where you are.
    You can’t change something you don’t acknowledge. So, instead of resisting or fighting where you are, come to peace with it. Say yes to every part of your life, and from that place, make decisions that will move you in the right direction.
  3. Love your past.
    Your life might have been messy and bumpy. It might have been colored by mistakes, anxiety, and fear. I know mine has. But all those things were catalysts to help you become a better, wiser, and more courageous version of yourself. So, embrace your story and how much you’ve grown from it. Be proud of what you’ve done and for wanting to create a better life for yourself.
  4. Do a social media detox.
    We’re constantly bombarded with people who live #blessed lives on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. What we don’t consider is that we often compare our own worst moments with someone else’s highlight.

Social media can be a great source for inspiration. But, if it triggers inadequacy, self-doubt, and frustration, then choose to do a detox. Make sure you control social media and not the other way around.

  1. Know that this isn’t the end of the movie.
    If you’re not happy where you are today, remember that this is just a snapshot of your life. Where you are today doesn’t say anything about where you’ll be in one or three years from now. What matters isn’t where you are. What matters is your mindset, attitude, and where you’re going.
  2. Be grateful for what you have.
    Oprah said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Whenever you find yourself looking at what other people have, remind yourself of what you’re grateful for. For me, that means appreciating my family, my wonderful friends, and the fact that I’m living in a peaceful country (Sweden). So, shift focus from what you don’t have, to what you do have.

  1. Decide not to let fear guide your choices.
    The choices we make are either based on love or fear. For example, I moved to Paris for a job I was really excited about. That was based on love. Then I stayed a bit too long because I was afraid of what would happen if I quit. That was based on fear.

I’ve made all my fear-based decisions out of insecurity and a feeling of scarcity. They’ve never taken me in the direction I wanted.

Make sure love is the foundation for your choices. To stay on track, ask yourself this powerful question, “What would love do right now?”

  1. Realize that you’re not perfect.
    There will always be someone who’s richer, smarter, and more attractive than you. No one is perfect. Trying to be perfect is not the solution. So, instead of getting down on yourself for your flaws, quirks, and imperfections, accept them fully. Free yourself by embracing the fact that you’re perfectly imperfect.
  2. Be your own ally.
    That mean voice inside your head can tell you all kind of BS. Mine has told me that I’m boring, stupid, and ugly in comparison to others (and a bunch of other awful things).

Instead of joining in when the mean voice of comparison pops up, choose to be on your side. Relieve, soothe, and comfort yourself. Give yourself regular pep talks, and if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.

  1. Turn comparison into inspiration.
    We tend to compare our behind-the-scenes with someone else’s big moment. We tend to focus on their success, not on the thousands of hours they’ve spent preparing and working for their achievement. Instead of letting other people’s triumphs get you down on yourself, let them open you up to possibilities. Let them be inspiration for what you can be, do and have in life.
  2. Stop “shoulding” yourself.
    Comparison often leads to us “shoulding” all over ourselves. We say things such as, “I should have this by now” or “I should have come further.” But statements like that just keep us focused on what we’re lacking.

Instead of using “should” when expressing commitments, use “want” and notice how your inner dialogue shifts.

  1. Compare yourself with you.
    If you need to compare yourself with someone, compare yourself with you. What can you do to improve your life quality? How can you be a better and more loving person? How can you be nicer to yourself than you were yesterday? You are the only person you can compare yourself with.
  2. Tell a better story.
    If the story you’re telling yourself isn’t one of empowerment, strength, and optimism, then tell a better story.

Instead of telling yourself you’re not competent enough to do the work you want to do, tell yourself you’re brave enough to try something new. Instead of blaming yourself for mistakes in the past, remind yourself that you did the best you could and that you’ve learned from it.

Take Back What Belongs to You
Comparing ourselves to others often leaves us feeling frustrated, anxious, and paralyzed about moving forward. It doesn’t help one single bit in creating the life we want. Instead, it just takes away valuable time and energy that could have been spent on building our future.

Whenever you focus on what other people have that you don’t, you give away your power. Every minute spent on comparing your path to someone else’s is a minute lost on creating your own.

So, take back your power from all the people, places, and situations where you’ve left it and bring it back home. Decide that your energy will be used for believing, not doubting, and for creating, not destroying.

Focus on you. Focus on watering your grass and building your path. Focus on being the best that you can be and share that with the rest of us.

You got this.

[ Maria Stenvinkel ]


“Constantly Comparing Yourself to Others? Here’s How to Stop”

Constantly Comparing Yourself to Others? Here’s How to StopDo you ever look around, see other women being awesome, and feel like you’re not good enough or that you don’t measure up?

Maybe it’s the fit mom — the one constantly posting her work-out videos and hot gym selfies on Instagram. She has kids climbing all over her, but that doesn’t stop her! She’s a beast in the best way, while your body’s basically a lumpy, dumpy mess.

Maybe it’s the class mom at your kids’ school. She volunteers for everything, her cupcakes are always Pinterest-perfect works of art, and she always looks like the cover of a magazine. Meanwhile, your shirt passed the sniff test this morning. Barely.

Or maybe it’s the friend who constantly posts pictures of her nice house and fancy vacations all over Facebook. You know you shouldn’t be jealous, but it’s hard not to be when she’s jetting off to somewhere fancy while you can’t get five minutes to pee in peace.

Do you know what I’m talking about? I’m guessing you do.

From the highly filtered highlight reel we’re exposed to on social media to the unrealistic, airbrushed images we see on every magazine, movie and billboard, it’s easy to feel like our every day average lives or our “gave birth to three babies” bodies just don’t measure up.

Do any of the following sound familiar…

“She’s so skinny and pretty! I wish I looked like that…”
“That outfit looks amazing on her! I wish I could wear cute clothes like that…”
“She is so talented! There’s no way I could ever do that…”
“How does she manage to do it all and make it look so effortless? I am such a hot mess…”
“She is such a good mom. My kids would probably be better off without me…”
“I wish I could get to know her better, but she’d probably never want to be friends with someone like me…”
If so, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Even if the thoughts that plague you are a bit different than the ones listed above.

** Pause and reflect: Do you ever feel like you don’t measure up? How so? In what way?

For Women Who Struggle with Comparison…
By the way, if you’re someone who struggles with comparing yourself to others, one book I’d highly recommend is “Compared to Who?” by Heather Creekmore.

This book is nothing like the other “diet” or “self-love” books you usually find out there today. Instead, Heather shares a fresh new perspective on an issue we all deal with, and she does it with a ton of authenticity, humor and grace.

Full of Biblical truth, encouragement and practical application steps you can use today, this book will absolutely help you see your comparison struggles in a whole new light.

In fact, after I read it myself, I loved it so much I immediately bought a second copy for a friend who I knew needed to hear it. Do you need to hear this message too?

**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through my links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps cover the many costs of running this site and allows me to help provide for my growing family. Thank you!

What Does the Bible Say About Comparing Yourself to Others?

You know comparison is bad — but do you know how bad? Do you know what the Bible has to say about comparing yourself to others?

Comparison is so rooted into our culture that few of us even notice it anymore. Instead, we fall for it hook, line and sinker. “If only I had XYZ that they have, then I would be happy!” or “If only I could be more like them, then life would be better!” the media tells us — and we believe them!

And yet, this isn’t the picture Scripture paints for us at all.

Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. – 2 Corinthians 10:12

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. –Proverbs 14:30

In fact, did you know comparison is listed in the Ten Commandments?

Exodus 20:17 is a verse that’s easy to skip over. After all — who of us today covets our neighbor’s livestock? (Uh… no thanks.)

But what if we had a modern day equivalent for the issues we, as Christian women, deal with today? What if it said something like:

“Stop wishing you had a nice house like the ones you see on Pinterest. Stop wishing your husband was as thoughtful, caring and sensitive as your girlfriend’s. Don’t be jealous when you see that your friend’s vacation pictures, even though there’s no way you can afford one right now. Stop wishing you were as skinny, as pretty or as talented as those women you see on TV or Instagram. Stop wishing you had someone else’s “perfect” life. Enjoy yours.“

Feeling convicted yet?

Related Video: Battling Body Image Issues with Heather Creekmore

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Okay, so we know we aren’t supposed to compare. But how do we stop??

Here’s where to start…

  1. Identify the Areas that Cause You to Compare

We all have areas where we’re tempted to compare ourselves to others — either positively or negatively. So what are yours? What people or circumstances make you feel jealous or less than? What people or circumstances make you a little too prideful?

Make a list. Actually write it out on paper.

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

Your looks (Are you too fat, too too thin, too old, too wrinkly, too out of shape?)
Your house (Is it too small, too dirty, too cluttered, too outdated, or in the wrong part of town?)
Your talents and abilities (What have you always wished you could do? What are you super proud you can do?)

Related Reading: Three Truths to Remember When You Feel Like a Failure

  1. Recognize Comparison as Sin

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” – Philippians 2:3

Comparing ourselves to others isn’t just a bad habit. According to the Bible it’s actually sin.

Our value doesn’t come from how we compare to other people. And when we judge others based on a single characteristic, we’re basically objectifying them (by making them “just a pretty face,” etc).

The Bible doesn’t tell us to “be better than” our neighbor; it tells us to LOVE our neighbor. And we can’t love people well when we’re too busy trying to measure our value by them or prove ourselves better than them.

** Pause and reflect: Who makes you feel jealous? When’s the last time you went out of your way to do something kind and loving for them?

  1. Speak God’s Truth Into Your Life

Want to end the thoughts of comparison for good?

The absolute BEST way to conquer negative thought patterns (whether that’s comparison or something else), is to counter them with Scripture. After all, that’s what Jesus did when He was tempted in the desert, and it still works for us today.

What lies is the devil speaking into your life when you compare yourself to others? What words of truth can you replace them with instead?

Definitely check out this post for a good, in-depth tutorial on exactly how to do this: Want to Take Every Thought Captive to Christ? (It’s easier than you think)

  1. Change Your Focus and Your Aim

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:20

While I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be pretty, skinny, liked or talented, the problem happens when we want these things more than we want God. When they begin to consume our thoughts and minds. Or when we pursue these things at the expense of other people.

(For example, wanting to be more talented — not so you can use your talents for God — but so that you can feel “good enough” or “better than” someone else.)

A better idea? Instead of constantly focusing on how pretty, skinny or talented you want to be, focus on what kind of Christian you want to be. Read the Fruits of the Spirit and identify one or two you could stand to work on. Focus on that. Make growing in faith your mission.

Suddenly all of the things you’re obsessing about now — might not seem quite so important anymore.

** Pause and Reflect: Read the Fruits of the Spirit through the link above. Do these characteristics define your life? If not, which 1-2 do you most need to work on right now?

  1. Remove Temptation, When Possible

So let me ask you a question. A question Heather Creekmore, author of Compared to Who? asked her readers first:

If your husband was struggling with pornography, would you let him keep magazines and videos around the house and on his phone? Or would you do everything possible to remove the temptation for him to look at that stuff?

You’d get rid of it, right? Keep it out of your home. Put some safeguards in place.

Then why are you still filling your mind with fashion magazines, Facebook pages and Instagram accounts that cause you to compare and feel less than??

Way back up in #1, I asked you to make a list of the things that cause you to compare. Did you do it?

Now: How many of them can you rid from your life?

What books or magazines do you need to stop reading?
What Facebook and Instagram accounts do you need to stop following?
What TV shows do you need to stop watching?
Are there any places you need to stop going?
Any stores you should stop shopping in?
Any people you need to spend less time around?

  1. Live the Life God Has Given YOU

One of my favorite parts of Heather’s book, Compared to Who?, is in chapter 8 when she describes waiting for her flight at the airport.

Heather writes:

“My purpose for that day included travelling to Miami, not Maui. To become distracted by that flight or to sit there and whine about the fact that all those people get to go to Hawaii while I only get to go to Miami would have been downright foolish.

My plea to you, dear friend, is to know your purpose. Understand that God has given you a unique objective on this earth and all of the talent and abilities you need to accomplish that purpose…

Though you may not always feel like you know where you are going, believe that God issued you the right ticket. He gave you exactly what you need to get there. Stay focused until you arrive, trusting that God will lead you along the varied path to a destination he’s chosen for you. Don’t let the distractions of where others are headed slow you down.”

Sure, you may not have the tiny waist or the perfect singing ability or the ability to make adorable hedgehog cupcakes. That’s not because God doesn’t love you or because you’re not worthwhile! It’s because we ALL have different gifts and abilities.

God didn’t give you the same gifts and abilities as everyone else, because He didn’t give you the same mission and purpose He gave everyone else. You don’t have the same obstacles to face because you don’t have the same lessons to learn.

God didn’t give you what THEY need, because He gave you what YOU need. To live out YOUR best life and YOUR mission and YOUR calling.

Rejoice in that today.

Ready to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others Once and For All?
Now that you’ve finished this post, don’t forget to check out “Compared to Who?” by Heather Creekmore.

This book is nothing like the other “diet” or “self-love” books you usually find out there today. Instead, Heather shares a fresh new perspective on an issue we all deal with, and she does it with a ton of authenticity, humor and grace.

Full of Biblical truth, encouragement and practical application steps you can use today, this book will absolutely help you see your comparison struggles in a whole new light.

In fact, after I read it myself, I loved it so much I immediately bought a second copy for a friend who I knew needed to hear it. Do you need to hear this message too?

[ Brittany Ann ]


“How Comparing Yourself to Others Will Only Get in the Way of Your Happiness”

Constantly looking for validation through comparison is a surefire trap.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
For many people, comparing themselves to others is a big limitor to life happiness. Even Theodore Roosevelt acknowledged the disruptive nature of comparison, describing it as the “thief of joy.” In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Jack Canfield points out the futility of comparison. Rarely, when you are comparing yourself to others do things come out completely even. Either feeling you are better than someone else, or perhaps feeling not up to par with someone else, can create instant separation.

With the increased use of social media, it’s easier and easier to fall into the comparison trap. Canfield points out the study-backed observation that social media can increase depression.

To avoid falling victim to comparing yourself to others, Canfield has a few recommendations. Try finding validation from your internal strengths. Moreover, take a look at what you do have and excel at and be grateful for those things.

Also, if you spot yourself falling into toxic comparisons — stop yourself as soon as you can. Press yourself to log out of socail media or pull yourself away from gossiping with friends. When you do, make sure you replace the behavior with positive ones.

[ Jack Canfield ]


“How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others – A Helpful Guide”

With so many negative effects inherent in comparison, it is a shame we ever take part in it. And the freedom found in comparing less is entirely worth the effort.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” —Theodore Roosevelt

I’ve struggled with it most of my life. Typically, I blame it on having a twin brother who is five inches taller with much broader shoulders. But if I was being truly honest, more likely, it is simply a character flaw hidden somewhere deep in my heart.

I’ve lived most of my life comparing myself to others. At first, it was school and sports. But as I got older, I began comparing other metrics: job title, income level, house size, and worldly successes.

I have discovered there is an infinite number of categories upon which we can compare ourselves and an almost infinite number of people to compare ourselves to. And with how flooded we are by social media, it’s easier than ever to constantly find someone “better” to compare ourselves to, which only serves to make us feel bad about ourselves.

Once we begin down that road, we never find an end.

The tendency to compare ourselves to others is as human as any other emotion. Certainly, I’m not alone in my experience. But it is a decision that only steals joy from our lives. And it is a habit with numerous shortcomings:

Comparisons are always unfair. We typically compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others.
Comparisons, by definition, require metrics. But only a fool believes every good thing can be counted (or measured).
Comparisons rob us of precious time. We each get 86,400 seconds each day. And using even one to compare yourself or your accomplishments to another is one second too many.
You are too unique to compare fairly. Your gifts and talents and successes and contributions and value are entirely unique to you and your purpose in this world. They can never be properly compared to anyone else.
You have nothing to gain, but much to lose. For example: your pride, your dignity, your drive, and your passion.
There is no end to the possible number of comparisons. The habit can never be overcome by attaining success. There will also be something—or someone—else to focus on.
Comparison puts focus on the wrong person. You can control one life—yours. But when we constantly compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than our own.
Comparisons often result in resentment. Resentment towards others and towards ourselves.
Comparisons deprive us of joy. They add no value, meaning, or fulfillment to our lives. They only distract from it.
Indeed, the negative effects of comparisons are wide and far-reaching. Likely, you have experienced (or are experiencing) many of them first-hand in your life as well.

How then, might we break free from this habit of comparison?

Tips on How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
How do you stop constantly comparing yourself to others? Here are some useful tips that have worked really well:

Be aware of its ill effects. Take notice of the harmful effects comparing yourself to others has on your life. Intentionally remove it from the inside-out to free yourself from the damage this mindset has had on you.
See your own successes. Whether you are a writer, musician, doctor, landscaper, mother, or student, you have a unique perspective backed by unique experiences and unique gifts. You have the capacity to love, serve, and contribute. You have everything you need to accomplish good in your little section of the world. With that opportunity squarely in front of you, become intimately aware of your past successes. And find motivation in them to pursue more.
Desire the greater things in life. Some of the greatest treasures in this world are hidden from sight: love, humility, empathy, selflessness, generosity. Among these higher pursuits, there is no measurement. Desire them above everything else and remove yourself entirely from society’s definition of success.
Compete less and appreciate more. There may be times when competition is appropriate, but life is not one of them. We have all been thrown together at this exact moment on this exact planet. And the sooner we stop competing against others to “win,” the faster we can start working together to figure it out. The first and most important step in overcoming the habit of competition is to routinely appreciate and compliment the contribution of others.
Practice gratitude. Gratitude always forces us to recognize the good things we already have in our world.
Remind yourself nobody is perfect. While focusing on the negatives is rarely as helpful as focusing on the positives, there is important space to be found remembering that nobody is perfect and nobody is living a painless life. Triumph requires an obstacle to be overcome. And everybody is suffering through their own, whether you are close enough to know it or not.
Take a walk. Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to others, get up and change your surroundings. Go for a walk—even if only to the other side of the room. Allow the change in your surroundings to prompt change in your thinking.
Find inspiration without comparison. Comparing our lives with others is foolish. But finding inspiration and learning from others is entirely wise. Work hard to learn the difference. Humbly ask questions of the people you admire or read biographies as inspiration. But if comparison is a consistent tendency in your life, notice which attitudes prompt positive change and which result in negative influence.
Compare with yourself. We ought to strive to be the best possible versions of ourselves—not only for our own selves but for the benefit and contribution we can offer to others. Work hard to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Commit to growing a little bit each day. And learn to celebrate the little advancements you are making without comparing them to others.
With so many negative effects inherent in comparison, it is a shame we ever take part in it. But the struggle is real for most of us. Fortunately, it does not need to be. And the freedom found in comparing less is entirely worth the effort.

Stop comparing yourself to everyone else’s highlight reels.

Further Reading

USA Today covers a study performed by researchers from Lancaster University that highlighted the common feelings of depression that follows frequent posting on social media. It’s worth a read to see how platforms like Facebook can negatively affect our mental health.

If you’re interested in reading the study yourself, you can find it here. But be aware that the study itself isn’t accessible for free (while the USA Today article is free to read).

[ Joshua Becker ]


“How To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others”

I write about career, entrepreneurship and women’s advancement.
New!

Comparing yourself to others doesn’t help to create the life you want.

You’re up early one morning searching for jobs on LinkedIn when a new notification pops up. Your best friend from college just got promoted to Vice President at the same company where he’s spent the last ten years. Meanwhile, you’ve just been laid off from your most recent position—the fourth job you’ve held in that same timeframe. Even though you both graduated in the same year with the same degree, your careers went in distinctly different directions. Instantly, you feel resentful. You ask yourself, “Why not me?”

Yet, this reaction is not uncommon. According to a recent study, more than 75% of people reported feeling envious of someone in the last year. Comparing yourself to others can leave you feeling frustrated and anxious. But it doesn’t help in creating the life you want. Instead, it just takes away valuable time and energy that could have been spent on building a successful career. Here are five healthy and practical ways to end the jealousy game and take your power back.

Identify specific triggers
If you want to stop comparing yourself to others, determine when envy rears its ugly head. Is it when you’re scrolling through LinkedIn or your Instagram feed? Or maybe when you hear your best friend bragging about a salary increase? Use these observations to learn about yourself. Then make a list of who and what you frequently envy or compare yourself to. Write how these feelings negatively impact you, and why they are a waste of your time. Resolve to become more vigilant so that you can catch yourself in the future.

Commit yourself to gratitude
It is almost impossible to experience negative emotions when we are thankful for what we have. To stop comparing yourself to others, consider starting a gratitude journal. Take a few moments (preferably at the beginning of the day) to write down all the things you’re thankful for. Another fun idea that can involve the whole family is to create a gratitude jar. Find a jar, decorate it, and every day think of at least three things you’re grateful for. Write each down on a slip of paper and insert them into the jar. Soon, you’ll have a whole host of reasons to be grateful. When you find yourself slipping into those feelings of self-doubt, read a few notes from the jar to remind yourself about the positive things in your life.

Document your achievements
When comparing yourself to others, you focus on their strengths and ignore your own. So, go ahead and make a list of your achievements. It doesn’t matter what they are, big or small, as long as they are something you’re proud of. If you ace a project at work, record it. If you help a friend in a crisis, add it. If you drag yourself to the gym on a morning you didn’t want to go, write it down. Include everything you can think of. Then reflect on that list and post it somewhere where you can see it every day.

Embrace the competition
It can be helpful to view people you envy as allies rather than threats. If you avoid people that trigger self-comparison, you may miss out on how those successful people can help you. Think about what you can learn from them. Approach them and ask them for advice. Instead of feeling jealous, use their achievements as motivation. Who are the people you most admire that are making a difference in the world? Reach out to them to find inspiration so you can become a better person.

Be your own best friend
Often, we treat others better than we treat ourselves. Start by examining your self-talk. Are you self-critical during those moments you compare yourself to others? The first step in being your own best friend is to stop beating yourself up. Stop and ask yourself, “Would I say these things to someone I care about?” Then start acknowledging and appreciating your own unique talents and abilities.

Meta Sales Decline: Facebook Now An Old Cyclical Business
Remember, there will always be someone more attractive, intelligent or successful. The trick is knowing the unique value of what you bring to the table. Whenever you focus on what other people have that you don’t, you give away your power. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So, take back your power. Decide that your energy will be used for believing in yourself and creating the life you deserve.

Feeling stuck and unfulfilled? Download Caroline Castrillon’s free guide: 5 Signs It’s Time to Make a Bold Career Change!

[ Caroline Castrillon ]


“How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others”

Break the habit of feeling insecure, envious, and discontented with your life.

Posted March 5, 2018 | Reviewed by Kaja Perina

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
—Theodore Roosevelt

Who do you most frequently compare yourself to?

If you’re not sure, try this question: Who have you compared yourself to in the last 24 hours?

If you’re still not sure, think of the last time you checked your Facebook or Instagram feed. Which updates made you feel envious, or made you feel as if your life paled in comparison? In turn, did any posts make you feel smug, or better than that person?

The comparison game—or war—is as old as humanity.

I avoid mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds as much as possible. As part of my work (I speak and write about wellness, resilience, burnout and mental health), I read the studies that show that time on social media feeds increases depression and envy and decreases well-being. This motivates me to use social media purposefully, specifically choosing what I will look at and keeping it to a minimum.

I almost always regret it when I let my guard down and start scrolling. I’ll inevitably see something that makes me feel bad about myself or my life, or something else that makes me feel envious, that I’m missing something from my life that others have (something I probably wasn’t even thinking of until I saw it). I posted about the comparison trap the other day on Facebook, and a senior citizen posted a comment that made my heart ache:

“Reading about everyone’s vacations kills me. Not in my budget, ever. And these posts never stop.”

I’ve written previously about developing awareness about the impact of your social media posts on others. I stopped posting pictures from my vacations years ago. Share those, perhaps, with a limited audience, maybe close family and friends who really want to see them. But…ask yourself first if they really want to see them. Before you show anything to anyone, review what you know about their life. When’s the last time they went on a tropical vacation? Maybe they dream of going to the tropics but have never had (and may never have) the opportunity. You’d be surprised how many people don’t actually enjoy pictures of you lounging by a clear blue sea with a coconut drink in your hand.

Back to Roosevelt’s quote about comparison being the thief of joy. In addition to cultivating awareness with respect to inadvertently (or advertently) provoking comparison and therefore stealing the joy of others, become a student of how you squander your own contentedness by getting sucked into the comparison trap.

Here are some tips:

  1. Become aware of, and avoid, your triggers.

Start noticing the situations that cause you to play the comparison game. Social media, as I’ve mentioned, is a big one for most of us. What about other circumstances? Is there a certain person who is constantly bragging about this or that, or asks you questions about your life that are designed to make you feel inferior? Are there certain activities, such as strolling through a high-end shopping mall, or driving through an expensive neighborhood, that frequently make you feel discontented with your life (when you were feeling just fine about your life, an hour before)?

article continues after advertisement

Make a list of who and what you frequently envy or compare yourself to. Write how each negatively affects you, and why it’s actually a waste of your time. Resolve to catch yourself next time. Avoid comparison triggers if you can, especially if the activity or contact doesn’t add meaning or any real value to your life.

  1. Remind yourself that other people’s “outsides” can’t be compared to your “insides”

This is such a helpful habit to cultivate. Unless you’re really close to someone, you can’t use their outward appearance to judge the reality of their life. People carefully curate the social media versions of their lives, and do the same with the lives they live out publicly. You may have had the experience, as I have, of being shocked when a couple that appeared to be happy and solid announce their divorce. Continue to wish others well, of course, but in the event that their life gives you reason to feel bad about yours, remind yourself that you don’t actually know what goes on behind closed doors.

  1. Repeat whenever necessary: “Money doesn’t buy happiness, and never will”

It’s well established that wealth, beyond having the basics in life, isn’t associated with increased happiness or well-being. I used to perform flamenco dance at an exclusive resort frequented by celebrities and the mega-wealthy, and a manager there once told me that she’d never seen so many unhappy people in her life. Money and things provide temporary boosts of joy; their inevitable inability to provide lasting sustenance is usually more disappointing than anything else.

  1. Be grateful for the good in your life, and resist any lies that shout “It’s not enough”

If you commit yourself to being deeply grateful for what’s good in your life, and remind yourself of it daily, you’ll be far less vulnerable to comparison and envy. If someone or something triggers that ugly feeling of negative comparison, stop and remind yourself of what’s good in your life, right now. There is so much.

article continues after advertisement

  1. Use comparison as motivation to improve what actually matters

This human propensity to want what others have is such a waste of time, unless what you see and “covet” in another is something of deep worth, such as their generosity or kindness. Who do you admire? What kinds of comparisons might actually be healthy for you? For example, there are women I know well who are extraordinarily kind and generous wives, mothers, and friends. They truly make a difference in their worlds, and I want to be more and more like them. Who inspires you to live better, in the way that matters most? Spend your precious time and thoughts on this, instead.

Imagine if you could elevate the comparison game to a useful art form. Stop falling prey to its dark underbelly, which does little more than increase feelings of misery and lack in your life. Use comparison, instead, to become a better person and maybe even make your little corner of the world a better place.

[ Susan Biali Haas, M.D. ]


“Life’s Enough: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others”

“Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.” – Marquis de Condorcet

If you took the strengths of others, and compared them to your weaknesses, how do you think you’d size up? And do you think this would make you feel good?

The funny thing is, this is what most of us do at one time or another — and some of us do pretty often.

It’s a sure-fire recipe for a drop in self-confidence and for unhappiness. It’s also not that useful.

Let’s say I take a look at someone who creates amazing artwork and really top-notch podcasts on their website … and I look at my art and video skills, and realize that I don’t come close to measuring up. In fact, I look pretty pitiful (I’m a lousy drawer and don’t know anything about video).

But wait a minute: it’s not a fair comparison. Just because I don’t measure up doesn’t mean I should get out of the blogging business, or that I should get depressed or jealous or resentful. Instead, if I looked at my strengths — writing useful and honest posts — I can see that I have a lot to offer, a lot to be happy about.

And that’s so important — being able to look at your own strengths, and see your true value. It’s actually one of the keys to success, because without this ability, you will be unmotivated, and won’t believe in yourself.

I wanted to talk about this issue because of an email from a reader recently:

I come from a Tier-2 city of India. I belong to middle class family. My job also such that I can’t meet both my ends, if I get married and start a new family.

The problem is that I have got my teammates, who come from very affluent families. I can’t stop myself comparing my lifestyle with theirs. I know it is not proper to compare myself with them on the basis of what physical possessions they have. I must say that my financial planning is sound enough to take care of my existing family; and I can take care of new family member also, at least for some time even if I lose my current job. But whenever I see or hear them spending so much money after possessions, I start comparing again. How can I stop this habit, without changing jobs?

This is an excellent question, and a tough one. I think it’s natural to compare ourselves to others, but as the reader noticed, it often makes us unhappy even if we have enough and should be happy with what we have.

My quick advice: try to be aware of when you start comparing yourself to others … once you’ve developed this awareness, try this trick: stop yourself. Tell yourself, “Stop that!” And then start thinking about all the things you DO have, the things you love, the people you have, the blessings that life has given you. Make this a regular practice, and you’ll start to be happier with your life.

The Effects of Social Comparisons
But let’s take a look for a moment at what’s wrong with comparing yourself with others:

Like I said, it’s usually an unfair comparison to start with. As a result, you’ll always come off bad if you look at someone’s strengths (including what they have, like houses and cars) and your weaknesses.

Even if you compare strength to strength, there will always be those who are better, and those who are worse. Where you are on the ladder of accomplishments or purchases has nothing to do with what you want to do.
Even if you do well in comparison with others, you may be artificially inflated from this comparison. It’s a short-lived boost of ego if you win the comparison — easily knocked down.

You end up resenting others for doing well, without really knowing the true person. You can see this if you’ve ever resented someone upon first meeting them, and then later realized you got the wrong idea.

You might end up talking about your own accomplishments more than is necessary. No one appreciates that.

You might criticize someone in public, trying to knock them down, often unfairly.
These aren’t good things. Let’s look at how to stop this phenomenon.

Breaking the Habit of Comparing Yourself With Others
So how do you break this cycle of comparing yourself with others? Here are some tips I’ve found useful:

Awareness. Most often we do these social comparisons without realizing we’re doing it. It’s a natural act, I suppose, and as a result it’s something that is done without consciousness. So the solution is to become conscious — bring these thoughts to the forefront of your consciousness by being on the lookout for them. If you focus on these thoughts for a few days, it gets much easier with practice, and soon it’ll be hard not to notice.

Stop yourself. Once you realize you’re doing these comparisons, give yourself a pause. Don’t berate yourself or feel bad — just acknowledge the thought, and gently change focus.

Count your blessings. A better focus is on what you do have, on what you are already blessed with. Count what you have, not what you don’t. Think about how lucky you are to have what you have, to have the people in your life who care about you, to be alive at all.

Focus on your strengths. Instead of looking at your weaknesses, ask yourself what your strengths are. Celebrate them! Be proud of them. Don’t brag, but feel good about them and work on using them to your best advantage.

Be OK with imperfection. No one is perfect — intellectually, we all know that, but emotionally we seem to feel bad when we don’t reach perfection. You aren’t perfect and you never will be. I certainly am not, and I’ve learned to be OK with that. Sure, keep trying to improve, but don’t think you’ll ever be the “perfect person”. If you look at it in a different way, that imperfection is what makes you who you are, you already are perfect.

Don’t knock others down. Sometimes we try to criticize others just to make ourselves look or feel better. Taking someone else down for your benefit is destructive. It forms an enemy when you could be forming a friend. In the end, that hurts you as well. Instead, try to support others in their success — that will lead to more success on your part.

Focus on the journey. Don’t focus on how you rank in comparison to others — life is not a competition. It’s a journey. We are all on a journey, to find something, to become something, to learn, to create. That journey has nothing to do with how well other people are doing, or what they have. It has everything to do with what we want to do, and where we want to go. That’s all you need to worry about.
Learn to love enough. If you always want what others have, you will never have enough. You will always want more. That’s an endless cycle, and it will never lead to happiness. No matter how many clothes you buy, no matter how many houses you own (seven, in the case of one famous candidate), no matter how many fancy cars you acquire … you’ll never have enough. Instead, learn to realize that what you have is already enough. If you have shelter over your head, food on the table, clothes on your back, and people who love you, you are blessed. You have enough. Anything you have over and above that — and let’s admit that all of us reading this blog have more than that — is more than enough. Be good with that, and you’ll find contentment.

“To love is to stop comparing.”
[ Bernard Grasset ]

[ Leo Babauta ]


“Social Comparison”

When athletes compete in a race, they are able to observe and compare their performance against those of their competitors. In the same way, all people naturally engage in mental comparisons with the people around them during the course of daily life. These evaluations can impact our motivation and feelings. In this module, you will learn about the process of social comparison: its definition, consequences, and the factors that affect it.

Learning Objectives
Understand the reasons people make social comparisons.
Identify consequences of social comparison.
Understand the Self-Evaluation Maintenance Model.
Explain situational factors that can affect social comparison.

Introduction: Social Comparison
One pleasant Saturday afternoon, Mr. Jones arrives home from the car dealership in a brand-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the entry-level sedan in the Mercedes family of cars. Although Mercedes-Benzes are common in Europe, they are often viewed as status symbols in Mr. Jones’ neighborhood in North America. This new car is a huge upgrade from his previous car. Excited, Mr. Jones immediately drives around the block and into town to show it off. He is thrilled with his purchase for a full week—that is, until he sees his neighbor across the street, Mr. Smith, driving a brand-new Mercedes S-Class, the highest tier of Mercedes sedans. Mr. Smith notices Mr. Jones from a distance and waves to him with a big smile. Climbing into his C-Class, Mr. Jones suddenly feels disappointed with his purchase and even feels envious of Mr. Smith. Now his C-Class feels just as uncoo as his old car.

Mr. Smith is experiencing the effects of social comparison. Occurring frequently in our lives, social comparison shapes our perceptions, memory, and behavior—even regarding the most trivial of issues. In this module, we will take a closer look at the reasons we make social comparisons and the consequences of the social comparison process.

An advertisement for Kawasaki motorcycles from the 1970’s. The slogan is “Are You the Kawasaki Kind?” The ad features an average looking man dressed in a shirt and tie standing behind a Kawasaki motorcycle and holding a motorcycle helmet. An attractive woman sits on the seat of the motorcycle and leans her head on the man’s shoulder.
Social comparison is a well-known concept to advertisers. They create idealized images that influence consumers’ self-perceptions as well as the things they feel they must buy in order to be satisfied. [Image: SenseiAlan, http://goo.gl/XOwjq5, CC BY 2.0, http://goo.gl/T4qgSp%5D
Social Comparison: Basics
In 1954, psychologist Leon Festinger hypothesized that people compare themselves to others in order to fulfill a basic human desire: the need for self-evaluation. He called this process social comparison theory. At the core of his theory is the idea that people come to know about themselves—their own abilities, successes, and personality—by comparing themselves with others. These comparisons can be divided into two basic categories.

In one category, we consider social norms and the opinions of others. Specifically, we compare our own opinions and values to those of others when our own self-evaluation is unclear. For example, you might not be certain about your position on a hotly contested issue, such as the legality of abortion. Or, you might not be certain about which fork to use first in a multi-course place setting. In these types of instances people are prone to look toward others—to make social comparisons—to help fill in the gaps.

Imagine an American exchange student arriving in India for the first time, a country where the culture is drastically different from his own. He notices quickly through observing others—i.e., social comparison—that when greeting a person, it is normal to place his own palms together rather than shaking the other person’s hand. This comparison informs him of how he should behave in the surrounding social context.

The three medalists in the 2008 Women’s Olympic Triathlon stand together on the winner’s podium.
When comparing, similarity is important. A professional athlete is far more likely to compare his or her own performance against that of other professional athletes than that of an amateur. [Image: Doma-w, https://goo.gl/2NM9Ii, CC BY 3.0, https://goo.gl/b58TcB%5D
The second category of social comparison pertains to our abilities and performance. In these cases, the need for self-evaluation is driven by another fundamental desire: to perform better and better—as Festinger (1954) put it, “a unidirectional drive upward.” In essence, we compare our performance not only to evaluate ourselves but also to benchmark our performance related to another person. If we observe or even anticipate that a specific person is doing better than us at some ability then we may be motivated to boost our performance level. Take, for example, a realistic scenario where Olivia uses social comparison to gauge her abilities: Olivia is a high school student who often spends a few hours in her backyard shooting a soccer ball at her homemade goal. A friend of hers suggests she try out for the school’s soccer team. Olivia accepts her friend’s suggestion, although nervously, doubting she’s good enough to make the team. On the day of tryouts, Olivia gets her gear ready and starts walking towards the soccer field. As she approaches, she feels butterflies in her stomach and her legs get wobbly. But, glancing towards the other candidates who have arrived early to take a few practice shots at the goal, she notices that their aim is inconsistent and they frequently miss the goal. Seeing this, Olivia feels more relaxed, and she confidently marches onto the field, ready to show everyone her skills.

Relevance and Similarity
There are important factors, however, that determine whether people will engage in social comparison. First, the performance dimension has to be relevant to the self (Festinger, 1954). For example, if excelling in academics is more important to you than excelling in sports, you are more likely to compare yourself with others in terms of academic rather than athletic performance. Relevance is also important when assessing opinions. If the issue at hand is relevant to you, you will compare your opinion to others; if not, you most likely won’t even bother. Relevance is thus a necessary precondition for social comparison.

A secondary question is, ” to whom do people compare themselves ?” Generally speaking, people compare themselves to those who are similar (Festinger, 1954; Goethals & Darley, 1977), whether similar in personal characteristics (e.g., gender, ethnic background, hair color, etc.) or in terms of performance (e.g., both being of comparable ability or both being neck-and-neck in a race). For example, a casual tennis player will not compare her performance to that of a professional, but rather to that of another casual tennis player. The same is true of opinions. People will cross-reference their own opinions on an issue with others who are similar to them rather than dissimilar (e.g., ethnic background or economic status).

Direction of Comparison
Social comparison is a bi-directional phenomenon where we can compare ourselves to people who are better than us—“upward comparisons”—or worse than us—“downward comparisons.” Engaging in either of these two comparisons on a performance dimension can affect our self-evaluation. On one hand, upward comparisons on relevant dimensions can threaten our self-evaluation and jeopardize self-esteem (Tesser, 1988). On the other hand, they can also lead to joy and admiration for others’ accomplishments on dimensions that are not relevant to the self, where one’s self-evaluation is not under threat. For example, an academic overachiever who distinguishes himself by having two advanced degrees, both a PhD and a law degree, may not enjoy meeting another individual with a PhD, a law degree, and an MBA, but may well enjoy meeting a fellow overachiever in a domain that is not self-relevant, such as a famous NASCAR racer or professional hockey player.

Downward comparisons may boost our self-evaluation on relevant dimensions, leading to a self-enhancement effect (Wills, 1981), such as when an individual suffering from an illness makes downward comparisons with those suffering even more. A person enduring treatment for cancer, for instance, might feel better about his own side effects if he learns that an acquaintance suffered worse side effects from the same treatment. More recent findings have also shown that downward comparisons can also lead to feelings of scorn (Fiske, 2011), such as when those of a younger generation look down upon the elderly. In these cases, the boost to self-evaluation is so strong that it leads to an exaggerated sense of pride.

Interestingly, the direction of comparison and a person’s emotional response can also depend on the counterfactual—“what might have been”—that comes most easily to mind. For example, one might think that an Olympic silver medalist would feel happier than a bronze medalist. After all, placing second is more prestigious than placing third. However, a classic study by Victoria Medvec, Scott Madey, and Thomas Gilovich (1995) found the opposite effect: bronze medalists were actually happier than silver medalists. The reason for this effect is that silver medalist’s focus on having fallen short of achieving the gold (so close!), essentially turning a possible downward comparison into an upward comparison; whereas the bronze medalists recognize they came close to not winning any medal, essentially turning a possible upward comparison (to another medalist) into a downward comparison to those who did not even receive a medal.

Positive and negative effects of upward and downward social comparison. 1. Upward Social Comparison. Positive effects – hope and inspiration. Negative effects – dissatisfaction and envy. 2. Downward Social Comparison. Positive effects – gratitude. Negative effects – scorn.
Table 1: The effects of social comparison.
Consequences of Social Comparison
The social comparison process has been associated with numerous consequences. For one, social comparison can impact self-esteem (Tesser, 1988), especially when doing well relative to others. For example, having the best final score in a class can increase your self-esteem quite a bit. Social comparison can also lead to feelings of regret (White, Langer, Yariv, & Welch, 2006), as when comparing the negative outcome of one’s investment strategy to the positive outcome of a different strategy taken by a neighbor. Social comparison can also lead to feelings of envy (Fiske, 2011; Salovey & Rodin, 1984), as when someone with thinning hair envies the thick hair of a colleague.

A lapel sticker with the message, “I voted. Did you??”
Comparing your behavior to that of other people might make you jealous, regretful or more motivated. Lapel stickers and online badges that proclaim “I voted” or “I gave blood” are common examples of leveraging social comparison to achieve positive social outcomes. [Image: CAVE CANEM, http://goo.gl/ifKSiE, CC BY 2.0, http://goo.gl/v4Y0Zv%5D
Social comparison can also have interesting behavioral consequences. If you were to observe a discrepancy in performance between yourself and another person, then you might behave more competitively (Garcia, Tor, & Schiff, 2013), as you attempt to minimize the discrepancy. If, for example, you are among the top 10% on your class mid-term you might feel competitive with the other top students. Although competition can raise performance it can also take more problematic forms, from inflicting actual harm to making a comment to another person. These kinds of behaviors are likely to arise when the situation following the social comparison does not provide the opportunity to self-repair, such as another chance to compete in a race or retake a test (Johnson, 2012). However, when later opportunities to self-repair do exist, a more positive form of competitive motivation arises, whether that means running harder in a race or striving to earn a higher test score.

Self-Evaluation Maintenance Model
The self-evaluation maintenance (SEM; Tesser, 1988) model builds on social comparison theory. SEM points to a range of psychological forces that help and maintain our self-evaluation and self-esteem. In addition to relevance and similarity, SEM reveals the importance of relationship closeness. It turns out that relationship closeness—where two people stand on the continuum from being complete strangers to being intimate friends—affects self-evaluations.

For example, in one study, Tesser and Smith (1980) asked people to play a verbal game in which they were given the opportunity to receive clues from a partner. These clues could be used to help them guess the correct word in a word game. Half the participants were told the game was related to intelligence whereas the other half were not. Additionally, half the participants were paired with a close friend but the other half played with a stranger. Results show that participants who were led to believe the task was self-relevant or having to do with intelligence provided more difficult clues when their partner was a friend versus a stranger—suggesting a competitive uptick associated with relationship closeness. However, when performance was implied to be irrelevant to the self, partners gave easier clues to friends than strangers.

SEM can predict which of our friends and which of our comparison dimensions are self-relevant (Tesser & Campbell, 2006; Zuckerman & Jost, 2001). For example, suppose playing chess is highly self-relevant for you. In this case you will naturally compare yourselves to other chess players. Now, suppose that your chess-playing friend consistently beats you. In fact, each time you play she beats you by a wider and wider margin. SEM would predict that one of two things will likely happen: (1) winning at chess will no longer be self-relevant to you, or (2) you will no longer be friends with this individual. In fact, if the first option occurs—you lose interest in competing—you will begin to bask in the glory of your chess playing friend as his or her performance approaches perfection.

These psychological processes have real world implications! They may determine who is hired in an organization or who is promoted at work. For example, suppose you are a faculty member of a university law school. Your work performance is appraised based on your teaching and on your academic publications. Although you do not have the most publications in your law school, you do have the most publications in prestigious journals.

Two women sit across a table from one another during a job interview.
It is common advice in the business world for managers to “hire your replacement.” In other words, to hire people with as much talent as possible, even those who could do the job better than the manager. The SEM model suggests that managers may prefer sub-optimal candidates who aren’t likely to challenge their standing in the organization. [Image: Ethan, http://goo.gl/Inqxas, CC BY 2.0, http://goo.gl/v4Y0Zv%5D
Now, suppose that you are chairing a committee to hire a new faculty member. One candidate has even more top tier publications than you, while another candidate has the most publications in general of all the faculty members. How do you think social comparison might influence your choice of applicants? Research suggests that someone in your hypothetical shoes would likely favor the second candidate over the first candidate: people will actively champion the candidate who does not threaten their standing on a relevant dimension in an organization (Garcia, Song, & Tesser, 2010). In other words, the SEM forces are so powerful that people will essentially advocate for a candidate whom they feel is inferior!

Individual Differences
It is also worth mentioning that social comparison and its effects on self-evaluation will often depend on personality and individual differences. For example, people with mastery goals (Poortvliet, Janssen, Van Yperen, & Van de Vliert, 2007 ) may not interpret an upward comparison as a threat to the self but more as challenge, and a hopeful sign that one can achieve a certain level of performance. Another individual difference is whether one has a “fixed mindset” or “growth mindset” (Dweck, 2007). People with fixed mindsets think that their abilities and talents cannot change; thus, an upward comparison will likely threaten their self-evaluation and prompt them to experience negative consequences of social comparison, such as competitive behavior, envy, or unhappiness. People with growth mindsets, however, are likely to interpret an upward comparison as a challenge, and an opportunity to improve themselves.

Situational factors
Social comparison researchers are actively exploring situational factors that can likewise influence degrees of social comparison:

Number
As the number of comparison targets (i.e., the number of people with whom you can compare) increases, social comparison tends to decrease. For example, imagine you are running a race with competitors of similar ability as your own, and the top 20% will receive a prize. Do you think you would try harder if there were only 10 people in the race, or if there were 100? The findings on N-Effect (Garcia & Tor, 2009; Tor & Garcia, 2010) suggest the answer is 10 . Even though the expected value of winning is the same in both cases, people will try harder when there are fewer people. In fact, findings suggest that as the number of SAT test-takers at a particular venue increases, the lower the average SAT score for that venue will be (Garcia & Tor, 2009). One of the mechanisms behind the N-Effect is social comparison. As the number of competitors increases, social comparison—one of the engines behind competitive motivation—becomes less important. Perhaps you have experienced this if you have had to give class presentations. As the number of presenters increases, you feel a decreasing amount of comparison pressure.

Local
Three college friends stand together in a dorm room. The woman on the right is 6 inches taller than the woman in the middle. The woman in the middle is six inches taller than the woman on the left.
It is natural to make comparisons between oneself and others on a variety of different standards and to compare oneself with a variety of different people. Comparisons to friends are among the most influential of all. [Image: Corrie M, http://goo.gl/FRbOfQ, CC BY-ND 2.0, http://goo.gl/FuDJ6c%5D
Research on the local dominance effect (Zell & Alicke, 2010) also provides insights about social comparison. People are more influenced by social comparison when the comparison is more localized rather than being broad and general. For example, if you wanted to evaluate your height by using social comparison, you could compare your height to a good friend, a group of friends, people in your workplace, or even the average height of people living in your city. Although any of these comparisons is hypothetically possible people generally rely on more local comparisons. They are more likely to compare with friends or co-workers than they are to industry or national averages. So, if you are among the tallest in your group of friends, it may very well give you a bigger boost to your self-esteem, even if you’re still among the shortest individuals at the national level.

Proximity to a Standard
Research suggests that social comparison involves the proximity of a standard—such as the #1 ranking or other qualitative threshold. One consequence of this is an increase in competitive behavior. For example, in childhood games, if someone shouts, “First one to the tree is the coolest-person-in the-world!” then the children who are nearest the tree will tug and pull at each other for the lead. However, if someone shouts, “Last one there is a rotten-egg!” then the children who are in last place will be the ones tugging and pulling each other to get ahead. In the proximity of a standard, social comparison concerns increase. We also see this in rankings. Rivals ranked #2 and #3, for instance, are less willing to maximize joint gains (in which they both benefit) if it means their opponent will benefit more, compared to rivals ranked #202 and #203 (Garcia, Tor, & Gonzalez, 2006; Garcia & Tor, 2007). These latter rivals are so far from the #1 rank (i.e., the standard) that it does not bother them if their opponent benefits more than them. Thus, social comparison concerns are only important in the proximity of a standard.

Social Category Lines
Social comparison can also happen between groups. This is especially the case when groups come from different social categories versus the same social category. For example, if students were deciding what kind of music to play at the high school prom, one option would be to simply flip a coin—say, heads for hip-hop, tails for pop. In this case, everyone represents the same social category—high school seniors—and social comparison isn’t an issue. However, if all the boys wanted hip-hop and all the girls wanted pop flipping a coin is not such an easy solution as it privileges one social category over another (Garcia & Miller, 2007). For more on this, consider looking into the research literature about the difficulties of win-win scenarios between different social categories (Tajfel, Billig, Bundy, & Flament, 1971; Turner, Brown, & Tajfel, 1979).

Related Phenomena
Frog Pond Effect
One interesting phenomenon of social comparison is the Frog Pond Effect. As the name suggests, its premise can be illustrated using the simple analogy of a frog in a pond: as a frog, would you rather be in a small pond where you’re a big frog, or a large pond where you’re a small frog? According to Marsh, Trautwein, Ludtke and Koller (2008), people in general had a better academic self-concept if they were a big frog in a small pond (e.g., the top student in their local high school) rather than a small frog in a large one (e.g., one of many good students at an Ivy League university). In a large study of students, they found that school-average ability can have a negative impact on the academic self-esteem of a student when the average ability is 1 standard deviation higher than normal (i.e., a big pond). In other words, average students have a higher academic self-concept when attending a below-average school (big fish in a small pond), and they have a lower academic self-concept when attending an above-average school (small fish in a big pond) (Marsh, 1987; Marsh & Parker, 1984).

The Dunning-Kruger Effect
Another related topic to social comparison is the Dunning-Kruger Effect. The Dunning-Kruger effect, as explained by Dunning, Johnson, Ehrlinger and Kruger (2003), addresses the fact that unskilled people often think they are on par or superior to their peers in tasks such as test-taking abilities. That is, they are overconfident. Basically, they fail to accurately compare themselves or their skills within their surroundings. For example, Dunning et al. (2003) asked students to disclose how well they thought they had done on an exam they’d just taken. The bottom 25% of students with the lowest test scores overestimated their performance by approximately 30%, thinking their performance was above the 50th percentile. This estimation problem doesn’t only apply to poor performers, however. According to Dunning et al. (2003), top performers tend to underestimate their skills or percentile ranking in their surrounding context. Some explanations are provided by Dunning et al. (2003) for this effect on both the good and poor performers:The poor performers, compared to their more capable peers, lack specific logical abilities similar to the logic necessary to do some of the tasks/tests in these studies and, as such, cannot really distinguish which questions they are getting right or wrong. This is known as the double-curse explanation. However, the good performers do not have this particular logic problem and are actually quite good at estimating their raw scores. Ironically, the good performers usually overestimate how well the people around them are doing and therefore devaluate their own performance. As a result, most people tend to think they are above average in what they do, when in actuality not everyone can be above average.

Graph of the Dunning Kruger Effect. The X-axis represents knowledge, ranging from no knowledge to expert. The Y-axis represents confidence, ranging for 0% confidence to 100% confidence. The graph shows those with nearly no knowledge have the highest confidence, close to 100%. As experience increases, confidence drops steadily until finally turning back upwards as the level of knowledge approaches expert.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect shows that the least experienced and least knowledgeable people are over-confident. These people don’t know what they don’t know and are more likely to overestimate their own abilities.
Conclusion
Social comparison is a natural psychological tendency and one that can exert a powerful influence on the way we feel and behave. Many people act as if social comparison is an ugly phenomenon and one to be avoided. This sentiment is at the heart of phrases like “keeping up with the Joneses” and “the rat race,” in which it is assumed that people are primarily motivated by a desire to beat others. In truth, social comparison has many positive aspects. Just think about it: how could you ever gauge your skills in chess without having anyone to compare yourself to? It would be nearly impossible to ever know just how good your chess skills are, or even what criteria determine “good” vs. “bad” chess skills. In addition, the engine of social comparison can also provide the push you need to rise to the occasion and increase your motivation, and therefore make progress toward your goals.

Web: Self-Compassion to counter the negative effects of social comparison
http://self-compassion.org/the-three-elements-of-self-compassion-2/
Discussion Questions
On what do you compare yourself with others? Qualities such as attractiveness and intelligence? Skills such as school performance or athleticism? Do others also make these same types of comparisons or does each person make a unique set? Why do you think this is?
How can making comparisons to others help you?
One way to make comparisons is to compare yourself with your own past performance. Discuss a time you did this. Could this example be described as an “upward” or “downward” comparison? How did this type of comparison affect you?
Vocabulary
Counterfactual thinking
Mentally comparing actual events with fantasies of what might have been possible in alternative scenarios.
Downward comparison
Making mental comparisons with people who are perceived to be inferior on the standard of comparison.
Dunning-Kruger Effect
The tendency for unskilled people to be overconfident in their ability and highly skilled people to underestimate their ability.
Fixed mindset
The belief that personal qualities such as intelligence are traits that cannot be developed. People with fixed mindsets often underperform compared to those with “growth mindsets”
Frog Pond Effect
The theory that a person’s comparison group can affect their evaluations of themselves. Specifically, people have a tendency to have lower self-evaluations when comparing themselves to higher performing groups.
Growth mindset
The belief that personal qualities, such as intelligence, can be developed through effort and practice.
Individual differences
Psychological traits, abilities, aptitudes and tendencies that vary from person to person.
Local dominance effect
People are generally more influenced by social comparison when that comparison is personally relevant rather than broad and general.
Mastery goals
Goals that are focused primarily on learning, competence, and self-development. These are contrasted with “performance goals” that are focused on the quality of a person’s performance.
N-Effect
The finding that increasing the number of competitors generally decreases one’s motivation to compete.
Personality
A person’s relatively stable patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior.
Proximity
The relative closeness or distance from a given comparison standard. The further from the standard a person is, the less important he or she considers the standard. When a person is closer to the standard he/she is more likely to be competitive.
Self-enhancement effect
The finding that people can boost their own self-evaluations by comparing themselves to others who rank lower on a particular comparison standard.
Self-esteem
The feeling of confidence in one’s own abilities or worth.
Self-evaluation maintenance (SEM)
A model of social comparison that emphasizes one’s closeness to the comparison target, the relative performance of that target person, and the relevance of the comparison behavior to one’s self-concept.
Social category
Any group in which membership is defined by similarities between its members. Examples include religious, ethnic, and athletic groups.
Social comparison
The process by which people understand their own ability or condition by mentally comparing themselves to others.
Upward comparisons
Making mental comparisons to people who are perceived to be superior on the standard of comparison.
References
Dunning, D., Johnson, K., Ehrlinger, J., & Kruger, J. (2003). Why People Fail To Recognize Their Own Incompetence. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(3), 83-87.
Dweck, C. (2007). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Ballantine Books
Festinger, L. (1954). A theory of social comparison processes. Human relations, 7(2), 117-140.
Fiske, S. (2011). Envy up, scorn down: how comparison divides us. The American Psychologist, 65(8), 698-706.
Garcia, S. M., & Miller, D. (2007). Social categories and group preference disputes: The aversion to winner-take-all solutions. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 10, 581–593.
Garcia, S. M., & Tor, A. (2007). Rankings, standards, and competition: Task vs. scale comparisons. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 102, 95–108.
Garcia, S. M., Song, H., & Tesser, A. (2010). Tainted Recommendations: The Social Comparison Bias. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 113(2), 97-101.
Garcia, S. M., Tor, A. (2009). The N-Effect: More Competitors, Less Competition. Psychological Science. 20. 871-877.
Garcia, S. M., Tor, A., & Gonzalez, R. D. (2006). Ranks and rivals: A theory of competition. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 970–982.
Garcia, S. M., Tor, A., & Schiff, T. (2013). The Psychology of Competition: A Social Comparison Perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(6), 634-650.
Goethals, G., & Darley, J. (1977). Social comparison theory: An attributional approach. In J. Suls & R. L. Miller (Eds.), Social comparison processes: Theoretical and empirical perspectives (pp. 259–278). Washington, DC: Hemisphere.
Johnson, C. (2012). Behavioral responses to threatening social comparisons: From dastardly deeds to rising above. Social & Personality Psychology Compass, 6, 515–524
Marsh, H. W. (1987). The big-fish-little-pond effect on academic self-concept. Journal of Educational Psychology, 79, 280-295
Marsh, H. W., & Parker, J. (1984). Determinants of student self-concept: Is it better to be a relatively large fish in a small pond even if you don\’t learn to swim as well? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 213-231
Marsh, H. W., Trautwein, U., Lüdtke, O. & Köller, O. (2008). Social comparison and big-fish-little-pond effects on self-concept and other self-belief constructs: Role of generalized and specific others. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100, 510–524.
Medvec, V., Madey, S., & Gilovich, T. (1995). When Less Is More. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(4), 603-610.
Poortvliet, P., Janssen, O., Yperen, N., & Vliert, E. (2007). Achievement Goals and Interpersonal Behavior: How Mastery and Performance Goals Shape Information Exchange. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(10), 1435-1447.
Salovey, P., & Rodin, J. (1984). Some antecedents and consequences of social-comparison jealousy. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 780–792
Tajfel, H., Billig, M. G., Bundy, R. P., & Flament, C. (1971). Social categorization and intergroup behavior. European Journal of Social Psychology, 1, 149–177
Tesser, A., & Campbell, J. (2006). Self-evaluation maintenance and the perception of friends and strangers. Journal of Personality 50(3), 261 – 279.
Tesser, A., & Collins, J. (1988). Emotion in social reflection and comparison situations: Intuitive, systematic, and exploratory approaches. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55(5), 695-709.
Tesser, A., & Smith, J. (1980). Some effects of task relevance and friendship on helping: You don’t always help the one you like. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 16, 582–590
Tor, A., & Garcia, S. M. (2010). The N-Effect: Beyond probability judgments. Psychological Science, 21, 748–749.
White, J., Langer, E., Yariv, L., & Welch, J. (2006). Frequent Social Comparisons And Destructive Emotions And Behaviors: The Dark Side Of Social Comparisons. Journal of Adult Development, 13(1), 36-44.
Wills, T.A. (1981). “Downward Comparison Principle in Social Psychology.” Psychological Bulletin 90: 245-71.
Zell, E., & Alicke, M. D. (2010). The local dominance effect in self-evaluation: Evidence and explanations. Personality and Social Psychological Review, 14, 368–384.
Zuckerman, E. W., & Jost, J. T. (2001). What makes you think you’re so popular?: Self-evaluation maintenance and the subjective side of the “friendship paradox.” Social Psychology Quarterly, 64, 207–223.
Authors

Stephen Garcia
Stephen Garcia is an associate professor of psychology and organizational studies at the University of Michigan. He is interested in social comparison, competition, and, more broadly, judgment and decision making.

Arnor Halldorsson
Arnor Halldorsson hails from Iceland and received his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Michigan in 2016. He is interested in social comparison, culture, and industrial/organizational psychology.

[ Stephen Garcia and Arnor Halldorsson ]


“Social Comparison Theory”

People constantly evaluate themselves, and others, in domains like attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, and success. According to some studies, as much as 10 percent of our thoughts involve comparisons of some kind. Social comparison theory is the idea that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others. The theory was developed in 1954 by psychologist Leon Festinger. Later research has shown that people who regularly compare themselves to others may find motivation to improve, but may also experience feelings of deep dissatisfaction, guilt, or remorse, and engage in destructive behaviors like lying or disordered eating.

Contents
The Benefits of Comparison
The Dangers of Comparison
Comparison and Bias
The Benefits of Comparison

When individuals compare themselves to others as a way of measuring their personal development or to motivate themselves to improve and, in the process, develop a more positive self-image, comparisons can be beneficial. It takes discipline, however, to avoid the pitfalls of negative comparison. In large part, how we react to comparisons depends on who we compare ourselves to: When we just want to feel better about ourselves, we tend to engage in comparisons to people worse off than we are, although this can become an unhealthy habit. When we want to improve, though, we may compare ourselves to people roughly similar to us but higher achieving in one trait or another.

How can comparison help you?
Social comparison can be highly beneficial when people use social networks to push themselves. In a study, friendly competition was highly effective in pushing people to exercise more, as peers pushed each other to keep up and do more. In such a “social ratchet effect,” each person’s activity generates more activity among others. Social networks in which people simply offered each other positive encouragement were far less helpful.

Is it better to compare yourself to those doing better or worse than you are?
People generally engage in either upward or downward comparisons. In upward comparisons, we compare ourselves with those we believe are better than us in some way; in downward comparisons, we do the opposite. Research, unsurprisingly, finds that downward comparisons make us feel better about ourselves, but that there are dangers to each approach—insecurity and jealousy, or overconfidence and arrogance.

Can envy ever be a positive emotion?

The Dangers of Comparison
fran_kies/ Shutterstock
Theodore Roosevelt called comparison “the thief of joy,” and he may have been right. Social comparison can motivate people to improve, but it can also promote judgmental, biased, and overly competitive or superior attitudes. Most people have the social skills and impulse control to keep their standards for social comparison to themselves, and not to act on any envy or resentment spurred by comparison-making. But their true feelings may manifest in other ways.

Why can comparisons make people feel bad?
Comparisons are likelier to make us feel bad when we make the error of only comparing ourselves to paragons of certain traits. For example, many people believe they have a less active social life than others. But when making such comparisons, people tend to compare themselves only to the most social people they know. Understanding this bias can help us make more realistic and motivating comparisons.

Is social media harmful to self-esteem?
Constantly checking social-media feeds full of images from parties, concerts, or other aspirational events can diminish self-esteem and contribute to depression. But some studies have found that such risks primarily affect those high in the trait of neuroticism, and others suggest that social-media use can reinforce self-esteem; for example, when people review their own images of good times with friends.

How can I stop comparing myself to others?

Comparison and Bias
Maksim Ladouski/Shutterstock
Many people fall into the trap of positional bias, comparing “up” more often than “down” relative to their own standing. A fascination with celebrity culture and the prevalence of carefully-manicured social-media feeds only exacerbates the effect by exposing people to an endless stream of others’ seemingly perfect images, homes, jobs, skills, and families.

What’s the better-than-average effect?
It’s been widely proven that people tend to believe that they are above average when it comes to desirable traits such as intelligence. But this the belief may not be so stable. For example, people are generally quick to report that they are smarter than average, but somewhat more humble when asked to place themselves in a specific percentile or to rate themselves on specific skills.

Are men or women more likely to think they’re better than average?
Two-thirds of Americans believe their intelligence is above average, but men are much more likely to inflate themselves than women; in surveys, more than 70 percent of men state that they are smarter than average, compared to about 60 percent of women, and they are much more likely to “strongly agree” that they are smarter than average.

[ Psychology Today Staff ]


“4 Strategies to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others (and Be Happy Instead)”

You probably know that it’s not always good to compare yourself to others. You know everyone moves at their own pace and circumstances are different. But you probably still find yourself making comparisons to others and wonder why you can’t stop.

Comparing yourself to others isn’t always bad and sometimes, it can maintain or even enhance your self-esteem. That’s what makes it so hard to stop, even if comparing yourself to others decreases your overall happiness. Overall, however, comparing yourself to others is often damaging your mental health without your awareness. Luckily, it’s possible to refocus your attention on yourself and make negative self-comparisons matter less.

In this article, we’ll look at why we are so quick to compare ourselves to others and how to maximize our happiness by minimizing the need to compare.

Contents [show]

Why do people like comparisons so much?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but people love comparing things with other things, and people with other people. In fact, we often define things and people through other things and other people.

For example, up-and-coming singers, bands, and actors are often likened to existing stars. “Is Timothée Chalamet the new Leonardo DiCaprio?” asks one headline. Well, does he – or anyone else for that matter – have to be the new Leo? Can’t he just be Timothée?

Of course, nobody wants or expects Timothée to be the new Leo. But by comparing the newcomer to an already established star, we get an idea of what he might be like and what we can expect of him.

Can comparisons result in positivity?
Occasionally, this type of comparison is very useful, as it helps to understand something better. It can also be a type of social shorthand.

For example, if I tell you that my boss is like Hitler, you will probably understand that my boss is a tyrant and perhaps a little evil. You will probably be able to infer that my boss isn’t responsible for the systematic slaughter of millions of people from our social context. (I would also like to say that my actual boss is a very nice lady and not at all like Hitler.)

Comparisons can also be used to flatter. For example, “You look just like Audrey Hepburn!” is meant as a compliment on someone’s beauty and Shakespeare’s sonnet 18 compares the subject to a summer’s day (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”).

But in addition to being poetic, comparisons can sometimes also be used to define ourselves.

Leon Festinger’s social comparison theory proposes the idea that everyone wants to gain accurate self-evaluations and in order to define the self, we must compare our opinions and abilities to others.

For example, I have a decent sense of rhythm, but abysmal flexibility. I know this because I compare myself to other dancers in my adult ballet class. It’s important to keep in mind that these evaluations only work in the context of the ballet class. If I were to compare myself to my family and friends, or professional ballerinas, using those same characteristics, I might come away with completely different results.

When you focus only on this short definition of the social comparison theory, it seems like comparing yourself to others isn’t such a bad thing. Isn’t having an accurate evaluation of yourself and your abilities important?

Well, yes, but as I mentioned in my example, comparisons are only accurate in a certain context. And even in this proper context, our comparisons are rarely 100% accurate, because they are influenced and colored by our thoughts and emotions.

Upward vs. downward comparisons
Also, it’s important to know that social comparisons can be made in different directions – upward or downward.

We make upward comparisons when we compare ourselves to people who are better than us at something. For example, by comparing myself to people who are more flexible than me, I’m making an upward comparison. These comparisons are supposed to motivate us by showing us what we could achieve.

When we compare ourselves to people who are worse off, we are making downward comparisons. For example, when I compare myself to people who are less flexible than me (which is an achievement in and of itself), I am making a downward comparison. Downward comparisons serve to make us feel better about our abilities, by making us feel that we might not be the best at something, but at least we aren’t as bad as someone else.

When comparing yourself to others is bad for you
Comparing ourselves to others is completely natural and often encouraged. As we discussed, using good role models for upward comparisons can be a powerful motivator.

However, upward comparisons can also leave us feeling inadequate and defeated. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we won’t be able to reach the level we are comparing ourselves to, because everyone’s abilities and circumstances are different.

Making upward comparisons can be especially dangerous in the era of social media. Looking at the beauty-filtered highlight reel of someone else’s life on Instagram is rarely motivating. If anything, it only serves to make you feel bad about your own life and lower your self-esteem.

Using actors, models, and other celebrities as your fitness inspiration may seem like a good idea, but chances are that you will never look like that model in the Nike ad. Even the model in the ad doesn’t look like the model in the ad. When you look at it that way, comparing yourself to that can only result in a negative impact on your happiness.

Photoshop aside, it’s also useful to remember that it’s your favorite role model’s job to look inhumanly fit, and they have a whole team dedicated to making their abs look good on camera.

You, however, are probably dealing with your own less-glamorous job and other responsibilities, and don’t have time to spend 4 hours a day at the gym.

This isn’t to say that you should throw in the towel and not try at all, but rather that you should adjust your expectations, taking into account your own life and circumstances with your personal trainers and diet coaches.

Downward comparison is often bad for yourself
Compared to upward comparisons, downward comparisons seem fairly safe: what’s the harm in wanting to feel better about yourself by comparing yourself to someone who is worse than you?

According to psychologist Juliana Breines, we tend to make downward comparisons when our self-esteem has taken a blow, but basing our self-esteem on comparisons to others is a bad idea.

Firstly, self-esteem that is dependent on others, is often fragile. Ideally, you’d want your self-esteem to be something integral to yourself, not something prone to change.

Secondly, by focusing on other people’s misfortunes, we are spending too much time noticing the negatives and not enough on the positive aspects. In general, focusing on the negatives tends to lower our overall happiness. We might also miss others’ successes and strengths, which can cause strain in relationships.

In a 2008 study, Rebecca T. Pinkus and colleagues found that participants responded more positively to upward than to downward comparisons by romantic partners.

How to stop comparing yourself to others
While totally natural, social comparison isn’t always beneficial to our happiness and self-esteem. So how do you stop comparing yourself to others, and focus on your happiness instead? Let’s take a look at 4 simple and actionable tips.

  1. Get off social media
    It’s way too easy to start comparing yourself to others on social media, so it might be a good idea to take a break from Facebook. If you can’t avoid it entirely, remind yourself that you are only seeing a small part of someone’s life. In fact, a lot of people spend over an hour a day trying to decide what part of their life to share with the world.

If nothing else works, keep in mind how you probably don’t share everything online. If you don’t give an honest picture of your day-to-day life on Facebook, why should others?

  1. Be grateful for what you have
    When you’re always comparing yourself to others, it’s easy to lose sight of what you already have. If this is you, then it can help to (re)focus your attention on your strengths and blessings by keeping a gratitude journal.

Gratitude is strongly correlated to positive emotions and good experiences, and the reason why is very simple to explain. When you are grateful, you are always remembered for positive events and experiences in your life.

Being grateful for these things allows your mind to think of these positive events, which encourages a positive mindset. A positive mindset is scientifically proven to be a factor of long-term happiness.

  1. Stay focused on your own journey and celebrate your successes
    Let’s say that you’re trying to become a better runner. Sure, you can compare yourself to world-class marathoners, or to your friend who can barely run a mile. But what does that information give you?

That’s right: pretty much nothing.

Instead, you should be looking at your own progress. If you need to compare, look at how you did a month or a year ago. Have you made progress since then, no matter how small?

To quote Hemingway:

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.

  1. Find affirmations that work for you
    My desk at work is overflowing with all sorts of paperwork, but one thing stands out: on my monitor, I have attached a positive affirmation that reads:

“I am capable.”

Notice how it doesn’t say “I am just as capable as…” or “I am more capable than…”. There are no comparisons here, only the affirmation of my own capability.

If you’re prone to comparing yourself to others, finding positive affirmations can be a good way of reminding yourself of your own worth. Ideally, the affirmation should come from yourself, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

I am capable.
I am enough.
I am powerful.
I am courageous.
I choose my behavior.
Thumbnail Mental Self-Care Cheat Sheet by Tracking Happiness
Get Our FREE Mental Self-Care Cheat Sheet
10 evidence-based tips to improve your mental health instantaneously when you need to take care of yourself!

Download The FREE Cheat Sheet
Wrapping up
The more natural something is to us, the harder it is to change or stop. While occasionally beneficial, comparing yourself to others can be bad for you, because it stops you from focusing on the positive aspects of your own journey and growth. However, it’s possible to change and stop the patterns of comparisons and find happiness through it.

Did you agree with the points in this article? Do you have anything to add, perhaps your own experiences? I’d love to hear all about it in the comment section below!

[ Maili Tirel ]


“Contentment: How to Find This Unmistakable Freedom”

“Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.” — Socrates

There were many reasons we chose to become minimalist and simplify our lives. We were frustrated with clutter. We discovered the time that was wasted managing our possessions. We realized joy was not found in our possessions. And we determined that we value other things far more than physical belongings. This initial process of simplifying our home required energy, effort, and encouragement.

But the process of remaining minimalist and living this counter-cultural lifestyle against all odds requires something completely different. It requires knowing how to be content.

Contentment is the lifeblood of minimalism. And without it, the journey towards minimalism is short-lived. Discontent will always rear its ugly head and become a great obstacle to fully thriving in a simple and happy life.

Not only does contentment provide the opportunity for minimalism, it also reduces your stress level, improves your outlook, relaxes your body, and makes your life enjoyable. There is an unmistakable freedom that accompanies contentment: a freedom to be who you are, enjoy who you are, and live the life you were destined to live.

Yet in our consumeristic-culture where discontent is promoted and material gratification is encouraged, learning to be content can be very difficult. It is certainly a personal journey that we all must travel and nobody’s journey will look the same.

Finding Contentment
Although there is no one-size-fits-all program to fully-attain contentment, you can still learn how to be content by being intentional. Here are six tips you can apply today to find more contentment in your life:

  1. Practice gratitude. It is impossible to develop contentment without gratitude—they are inseparable. And a grateful person is one who has learned to focus on the good things in their life, not the things they lack. The simple discipline of beginning the exercise will undoubtedly shift your focus back to the many good things you already have.
  2. Take control of your attitude. A person who lacks contentment in their life will often engage in “when and then thinking” – “when I get _, then I will be happy.” Instead, take control of your attitude. Remember, your happiness is not reliant on the acquisition of any possession. Your happiness is based solely on your decision to be happy—this may be one of the most important life lessons you can ever learn.
  3. Break the buying habit. For many of us, it has been ingrained into our lives that the proper way to diffuse discontent is to purchase the outward item that is seemingly causing the discontentment. Almost no energy is spent determining the true root of the discontent. Are you dissatisfied with your wardrobe? Go buy new clothes. Not content with your vehicle? Go buy a new one. We have gotten into the habit of satisfying our discontent by simply spending more money.

We must break that habit. Material possessions will never fully satisfy the desires of your heart (that’s why discontent always returns). The next time you recognize discontentment surfacing in your life, refuse to give into that bad habit. Instead, commit to better understand yourself and why the lack of that item is causing discontent. Only after you intentionally break this thinking will true contentment begin to surface.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparing your life with someone else’s will always lead to discontentment. There will always be people who “appear” to be better off than you and seemingly living the perfect life. But be advised, we always compare the worst of what we know about ourselves to the best assumptions we make about others. Their life is never as perfect as your mind makes it out to be. You are unique. You are special. Your life is different. And it’s always better that way. Prioritize learning how to stop comparing yourself to others.
  2. Help others. When you begin helping others, sharing your talents, time and money, you will find yourself learning to be content. The practice will give you a finer appreciation for what you own, who you are, and what you have to offer.
  3. Be content with what you have, never with what you are. Never stop learning, growing, or discovering. Take pride in your personhood and the progress that you have made, but never become so content that you cannot find room for improvement. Contentment is not the same as complacency. As soon as you stop growing, you start dying.

FAQ About How to Be Content
What is the definition of contentment?
Contentment is finding joy in what we already have in our lives, feeling or showing satisfaction with our possessions, status, or situation. It’s being happy without trying to find fulfillment in acquiring more material possessions.

What are the benefits of contentment?
Contentment allows us to stop comparing ourselves to others and it allows us to break the cycle of wanting more. It lets us be grateful and happy for all that we have. This approach to life is scientifically proven to reduce your stress level, improve your outlook, relax your body, and make life more enjoyable.

What is the difference between contentment and complacency?
The difference can seem minor but there’s actually a world of difference. Contentment is to be happy with what you have and find satisfaction in your present circumstances. Complacency is being unsatisfied with how your life is in the moment but still being unwilling to make changes to improve your situation.

Is contentment a choice?
Absolutely, although it’s not as easy as it sounds. Learning how to be content comes from a combination of intentional mindset shifts, habit changes, and being aware of our thoughts and actions.

[ Joshua Becker ]


“What the Bible says about Discontentment”

Ecclesiastes 6:10-12

Verse 10 is essentially saying that God is sovereign, and some things that He has established cannot be changed. Naming a thing is an indication that the thing so named is set. This is why the principles given in John 4:34 and Psalm 16:11 are so important to the converted. Being in God’s presence is the overall solution. These statements by Jesus and David give assurance that contentment in life lies within the combination of properly blending the knowledge of God’s purpose and deliberately choosing to live according to that purpose within a relationship with our very Creator.

This combination is what makes everything in life matter in a positive way, producing satisfaction and contentment in life. In this three-verse section, Solomon addresses four situations that revolve around not getting much in the way of these qualities from life because people do not give of themselves sufficiently to make the relationship work. Each verse, rather than answering, produces questions that, with a brief explanation, are helpful. If one does not get answers he can accept, then dissatisfaction and discontentment remain.

The questions that arise in these verses are expressions of justification that a converted person might give himself for not zealously throwing himself into the relationship with God. They are for the most part expressions of doubt that linger to support the lack of progress.

Solomon touches on five questions. The first is based in verse 10: “Since what’s going to be is going to be, why bother to make decisions? Isn’t it all predestined anyway?” This is broadly why some will not really cooperate with God in a relationship. Martin Luther gave this German proverb: “As things have been, so they still are; and as things are so shall they be.” In other words, the proverb is asking if there is anything we actually control. Things are so far from our control, why make an effort?

In this verse, the One “mightier than he” is God. We must firmly accept that God can indeed accomplish His purposes without our cooperation. He does not need us, but He most assuredly loves us! God indeed has “fixed,” that is, named what He will accomplish, but He has also given us free-moral agency.

We must know that the world we live in is not a prison. We are free to evaluate and then choose what our personal world will be, but we are not free to change what the consequences of our actions will be. This is why we should give everything thoughtful consideration. Stepping off the roof of a ten-story building may be our choice, but once we commit ourselves and do it, there is no altering the outcome! The reality is that our choices do make a great deal of difference. Like everything in life, they matter.

The second question is also based in verse 10. Why disagree with God? We cannot oppose Him and win, can we? This question suggests that God’s will is difficult, painful to accomplish, and should be avoided at all costs.

Compare this with what Jesus says in Matthew 11:29-30: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Add to this what He says earlier in His ministry about doing God’s will being nourishing and energizing to a Christian (John 4:34). Why would anyone, making a fair analysis by comparing God’s way with his self-chosen way and seeing what mankind has produced in this world, rather have his own way rather than God’s? That makes no sense whatever!

If God really wanted to make life truly difficult, He would give man absolute freedom. It really builds satisfaction and contentment, right? No, not at all.

Like Job, we must know what our limits are, and one of them is that we do not have the wisdom to out-think and out-talk God. We must truly realize that the more we talk, the emptier our words become, which is exactly what happened to Job. This leads to the fact that humanity must accept that God, as sovereign Creator, is free to act as He sees fit in every situation. Such acceptance will help to produce the contentment that mankind yearns for.

The third question appears to be drawn from Solomon’s many words in writing this book, in addition to all the words we might hear in sermons and the like. He asks, “What do we accomplish with all these words? Does talking about it solve the problems?”

Verse 11 in the New International Version reads, “The more words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” Are we not receiving a thorough education in this as we listen to all the convoluted political and economic arguments in recent times? Yet, these are all words of men. The Word of God is exactly what is needed because it is truth! God’s truths do not bind people; they free (John 8:32). Satisfaction and contentment are the fruits of truth that is accepted and used. One must listen to God’s Word and use it for satisfaction in life.

The fourth question arises from verse 12: “Who knows what is good for us?” This question is directly linked to the previous one. It brings to mind a saying that this same Solomon states twice, in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Human history proves that without the knowledge of God, mankind finds himself satanically deceived, drifting forever on a vast sea of human speculations. However, God knows what is good for us, and He is willing to share it with His children. Without the knowledge of God’s truth, life remains vanity, meaningless. God’s Word says, “He who does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:17)—in, I might add, satisfaction and contentment.

The fifth question also derives from verse 12: “Does anybody know what is coming next?” This question must be understood within the context of the entire book. It is not talking about small, day-to-day issues, but rather the huge ones that pertain to the overall purpose being worked out on earth. Of course, the answer is that nobody knows perfectly except for God. Everybody else’s opinions are largely speculations. If God gave us more specific detail, it might severely damage the vital use of faith. He gives us enough information to keep us looking ahead and to encourage us to be patient and make the best use of the time that He gives us to prepare, because time is valuable.

The proper answer to all of these questions—especially if it is correct that they are self-justifications raised by converted persons due to a lack of growth—lies in one’s use of the faith that God has given us to function within the relationship that He has opened to us.

Life is God’s gift, and He desires that we spend it involved with Him, using our faith to prepare for an eternal relationship with Him in His Family Kingdom. This will produce the enjoyable satisfaction and contentment in life that He desires for us. Involving Him is the above-the-sun life.

If there is no Kingdom of God, and if no grand purpose is being worked out, then nothing matters except for what is happening at the moment. This mindset is tilted toward either humanism or secularism, and its fruit is the moral and ethical depravity of a Sodom and Gomorrah. Those with this mindset have nothing glorious to prepare for, so why should they deny themselves any pleasure, any excitement, that their minds and bodies desire right now? God’s children, however, because they possess the faith, cannot allow themselves to drift into such a destructive mindset.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Seven): Contentment

Related Topics: Being in Harmony with God | Building a Relationship with God | Christ’s Yoke | Contentment | Discontentment | Dissatisfaction | Ecclesiastes and Christian Living | Ecclesiastes and Christian Living Contentment | Free Moral Agency | Involving God in our Work | Relationship With God | Speculating | Speculation

Ezekiel 28:12-17

We should never underestimate Satan’s power nor his hatred for God and man. He surreptitiously broadcasts his evil, spiritual intents into our minds, subtly working to turn each member of the “little flock” away from God (Ephesians 2:2). We should carefully consider the account of his actions in Ezekiel 28:12-16 as typical of his modus operandi. Although nothing was withheld from him, as he was created by God as the ultimate in beauty and function, “perfect in [his] ways,” he did not remain true, turning away from God, a picture of cancerous discontent.

In verse 17, we see the source of this discontent—pride: “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.” Satan was full of pride, the very thing we must guard against so that we do not corrupt the wisdom God has given us.

Satan is called “an angel of light” because he has a talent for presenting evil in a good light, which can confuse and deceive us if we let our guards down and drift away from God’s truth (II Corinthians 11:3, 14-15; see Revelation 12:9). Without this truth as our guide, we can easily fall prey to Satan’s darts of discontent. After all, this is Satan’s world for a while longer. So while we continue to witness the growth of discord and discontent based on his false notion that life should always be fair, we should anticipate and be thoroughly prepared for life—occasionally and even frequently—to be unfair, for now.

However, as we head into the final stages of the age of man, we should keep in mind that each of us was created by God, complete with everything we need to function according to His will. While we may lack the power, wealth, talent, and beauty that Satan—or perhaps a brother—has been gifted, we will soon be given so much more, if, among other things, we learn to be content with what our generous and loving God has provided us.

We should always remember that discontentment is common and hurtful, while contentment is rare and of great benefit (I Timothy 6:6). For true contentment is a byproduct of the gift of faith that each of us, as the elect, has been granted by God.

Foolishly comparing our lot in life with that of anyone else’s can never bear any good fruit (II Corinthians 10:12). We should, instead, only measure ourselves by the Word of God—the life of Jesus Christ. In doing so, we will discover a proper perspective, finding peace, security, and contentment within God’s sovereign plan (Philippians 4:6-11). Like Job, our focus need not be on what seems fair—what we possess or lose today—but on God’s promises for our future, when we will take possession of the most indescribable gift of all, eternal life with our just and loving God!

Geoff Preston (1947-2013)
It’s Not Fair!

Related Topics: Contentment | Discontentment | Eternal Life, Gift of | Fairness of God | It’s Not Fair! | Satan as “an Angel of Light” | Satan’s Hatred for Us | Satan’s Modus Operandi | Satan’s Power

Daniel 11:32-39

What the Beast is doing now (and he must be alive and climbing the political ladder today) is working his subtlety wherever he happens to be, using people to create loyalty to himself and to his cause. At the same time, he is gradually undermining—introducing leaven, as it were—to the present governments, causing disloyalty to them, while simultaneously stirring up social trouble through political, justice, educational, religious, and social systems.

There is nothing new about any of this. This is what Adolph Hitler did to subvert Germany to his cause. It is what Lenin and his cabal in Russia did to subvert the Czar and his government in Russia. This is what happened in the Cold War, as nation after nation fell to communism: infiltration through fifth column efforts, which took advantage of internal conditions, bitterness, and dissatisfaction with whoever was in power.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What I Believe About Conspiracy Theories

Related Topics: Beast, The | Bitterness | Bitterness, Root of | Conspiracy Theories | Discontent | Discontentment | Discord | Disharmony | Disloyalty | Dissatisfaction | Division | Division, Causing | Leavening

Hebrews 3:17

The last phrase (“Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?”) indicates a scattering of dismembered bodies, as if they had been left unburied. These “corpses” were the same people who came out of Egypt with great joy, exulting in their new-found liberty. They yearned for a settled and free life in a land that was their own. But, instead of knowing the joy and plenty of the Promised Land, they chose to sentence themselves to live a life of homeless wandering in a barren land and to die and perhaps be buried in an unmarked grave. Chosen to be the beneficiaries of God’s great blessings in a rich land, they instead lived poor and hungry in the wilderness, discontented, and often at war because of their sins. Their example ought to be a sobering warning.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Wandering the Wilderness in Faith

Related Topics: Discontent | Discontentment | Promised Land, Detour in route to | Scattering | Scattering of Israel | Wandering Out of the Way | Wilderness Wanderings

Hebrews 13:5

The author is writing about being covetous, meaning that we want more for ourselves – things that others seem to have and we do not. So he writes, “Be content with what you have. Don’t get all riled up about it.”

It is very interesting that he says, “Be content,” and then, “God has told you He will never leave you nor forsake you.” When we are discontent and dissatisfied, one of the first thoughts that we normally have is that God has abandoned us, that He does not care about us, that He has not blessed us. Paul says, “Don’t think that way. Be content with where you are because God has not left you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You are exactly where He wants you, so you have no reason to be discontent. God has placed you in the body where it pleases Him.” And that should be enough for us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Countering Presumptuousness

Related Topics: Contentment | Covetousness | Discontent | Discontentment | God’s Involvement | Presumptuousness

Jude 1:6

Jude puts this in an interesting way. They were not “the bad angels,” or even “the angels who sinned.” He calls them “the angels who were not content with where God had placed them.”

We know from Revelation 12:4 that one-third of the angels were under Helel’s hand, and he convinced them to leave their proper domain—the place where they had dominion, the place of their responsibility and authority—so that they could get more for themselves. In doing this, they sinned. Their discontent caused them to attempt to take by force what had not been given, but which they thought they deserved. This is the same thing that happened in Korah’s rebellion (Numbers 16:1-35).

[ Richard T. Ritenbaugh ]


“David Wilkerson – Are You a Contented Christian?”

[ David Wilkerson ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX-Cw7zckMI


“Contentment!”

Philippians 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

[ Charles Spurgeon ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPAVDhtdeB4


“Unleashing The Power Of Contentment Into My Life And Ministry”

We were saved to serve God; but Satan wants to distract us from God using the world’s allurements. One of the greatest needs in life is contentment. Contentment comes only by the application of the doctrines of God to my life.

Any lack of contentment signals a deficiency in experiencing God’s truth in my life. Just as prayerfulness reflects how much we need God, so our:

Contentment Reflects How Well We Know God

There are three key truths about God that when embraced by choice in our lives, releases contentment into our lives. Those truths are: the goodness of God, the omniscience of God, and the omnipotence of God.

When those truths are held to, then we accept our personal unworthiness, we mortify our personal worldliness, we pursue our friendship with God, and then we enjoy more and more satisfaction in God.

Contentment is satisfaction with God’s goodness, omniscience, and omnipotence.

Contentment produces a peaceful, thankful, and happy-with-what-you-have: type of life. Contentment unleashes God’s power into my life and ministry: no matter how bad or good it is.

Among all the saints of the Bible, Paul was probably one of the greatest of God’s servants. The vast majority of all believers down through the past two thousand years have been taught by Paul’s Epistles, or came to Christ through one of Paul’s spiritual children. He started more churches in the early days, traveled more miles, and did more for the spread of Christ’s church, than any other. How was Paul so effective? Maybe it was because of:

Paul’s Testimony on Contentment

How did Paul resist the materialism of the Roman Empire, and not get infected with the greed for things and the lust for comforts? He gives his testimony in Philippians 4. The lessons are very powerful.

[ John Barnett ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9TcOw9GWoQ


“Desiring Contentment – Hebrews 13:5”

Desiring Contentment – Hebrews 13:5 – Pastor Michael Clark
7/31/2022

[ Michael Clark ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXPcFWPOTBQ


“Are You Overwhelmed? Discouraged? – Discouragement”

[ Donna – Back To The Bible ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FcDJNOjDxc


“Overcoming anxiety With Peace”

[ David Jeremiah ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdfEHcfE2Dk


“Dealing with discouragement? Do this!”

[ Carter Conlon ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7nhOQgNdmM


“DEFEATING DISCOURAGEMENT | You Only Fail If You Quit”

[ Above Inspiration ]

MOTIVATIONAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9xDbeB9UQI


“Discouragement is a choice (Overcoming Discouragement)”

[ Charles Stanley ]

SERMON ‘SNIPPET’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ocS9bLpiKg


“Don’t Let Discouragement Take Your Strength”

[ Carter Conlon ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIK-vTXoaAI


“How to Deal With Discouragement”

[ Carter Conlon ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2USH9sASTuY


“How to Handle Discouragement”

[ Greg Laurie ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjDqnpQ0Ryc


“How to Overcome Discouragement”

[ Jimmy Evans ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-1uxMixZNo


“Loosening the Grip of Discouragement”

[ Charles R. Swindoll ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PnV_ntcLrM


“Trust God!”

[ Charles R. Swindoll ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CafpzBJJFbQ


“MLK on Overcoming Discouragement”

[ Martin Luther King, Jr. ]

SPEECHES: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJgJfogCGSA


“Defeating Discontentment”

This morning I want to talk to you on the subject of contentment, and I want to see if I can’t be very practical in talking about that. I am concerned because there are so many things in this world to make us discontent. Just about everything in this world makes us discontent. And discontent can lead to anxiety, and anxiety can lead to fear, and we can readily lose our joy as believers, even if we go down the wrong path, in a world where the ground is not only shifting under our feet, but seems to be opening up sinkholes into which we fall into some kind of unknown darkness. There are plenty of things to frighten us in this world. There are plenty of things that are open-ended in the sense of we don’t know where they’re going, but we know they’re going in a direction that concerns us, and it’s not going to be the way it’s always been for us.

And this is a time we need to get a grip on being content, even in these very difficult times. In fact it seems to me that if there’s one thing that this world manifests, it is discontent. Nobody seems content with anything. The human heart cannot be satisfied ultimately with anything but God, and a godless society will chase satisfaction and never really find it. [ more… ]

[ John MacArthur ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTjPmSpAxkw


“What Causes Discontentment?”

What goes on in our hearts that causes us to be discontent? Why do we, as believers, struggle with discontentment? When we bring to light the sinful thoughts and desires of our hearts, it is easier to answer these questions, repent to the Lord, pray, and strive for change. In this lesson, we will study three sins that source our discontentment and how to overcome them.

[ Melissa Kruger ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epADQ9p4W6I


“Is Discouragement a Sin?”

[ John Piper ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgPFiJGOMY0


“God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied in Him”

God’s design to pursue his own glory turns out to be love. And our duty to pursue God’s glory turns out to be a quest for joy.

[ John Piper ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE-09ut2pzw


“OVERCOMING A DISCONTENTED HEART”

Have you ever felt like the choices you’ve made in the past weren’t the best choices?

Maybe you feel stuck in your single life, stuck in a not so happy marriage, stuck with a bunch of screaming children you prayed for or plain stuck in your 9-5 that you absolutely hate. Regardless of where you are in your life, I want you to know that I can sympathize with you.

I was once single and I never thought that God would ever bring my spouse; I was once at a job working as receptionist with a degree from Michigan State University and I felt purposeless. And, during that first year of my marriage, you better believe that I felt stuck in my marriage. I wanted OUT. I began to evaluate my portions in life and I realized that Heather was the common denominator. Me. I was in the center of my single life, my marriage and my discontentment with my purpose. Nothing my husband could do would satisfy me.

I wanted so bad to blame everyone and everything around me for my frustrations because I felt like external things were the forefront of my frustration. I cried out to God, “Lord, if you would just change my husband! If you would just give me a promotion, if I was just this or that, THEN I would be satisfied Lord! Then, the Holy Spirit arrested my heart and showed me that a wedding ring didn’t change my discontented heart.

The same discontent Heather from my single life stuck its ugly head into my marriage. You see, my issue wasn’t external, it was internal. There was a war going on in my spirit and this fight is a spiritual fight, not a physical one. As Christians, we must stop going to war with physical means when God has instructed us to fight spiritually! War in prayer! War in fasting! War in guarding your heart! War in renewing your mind!

Pin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin itPin it
When things get hard in our life, we have a pretty hard time shining the light on our hearts. So, we begin to look at our bank accounts, our not so present friends, our marital status and what we think we lack. We begin to fantasize what life would be like if we had this or that. We assume that the grass will be greener on the other side if we had _.

The reality is that the grass is as green as our perspective. When we begin to seek the Lord and see things through the eyes of Christ we will understand that all things are working together for our good (Romans 8:28), that He leads our path (Proverbs 3:5), and that we can capture every crazy thought and make it submit to God’s word. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Philippians 4:13 tells us: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

So, I challenge you today – what is frustrating you? What do you think you need in order to be satisfied? Many times, God is trying to show us that what we really need is Him. Intimacy with Him so that we can remove the clutter and sit quietly before Him for instructions. The beautiful thing about spending time with the Holy Spirit is that He begins to show us ourselves and where WE are wrong. For me, I was always placing my worth and value in relationships and promotions. I felt important. And, it’s almost like the Lord had to remove my void-fillers to show me that those things will never satisfy me and that I must stop blaming everyone and everything for my portion in life.

Here are a few suggestions if you feel like you have a discontented heart.

  1. Be intentional about your prayer life and reading your bible uninterrupted. Even if you have to wake up before your family, it’s important that you’re in tune with the Holy Spirit.
  2. Guard your heart. Refuse to watch certain TV shows, read gossip magazines, entertain ungodly conversations, listen to secular music as all of these things can plant bad seeds in your heart that will harvest discontentment fruit.
  3. Stir yourself up in the Lord. Refuse to host a pity party and stir yourself up with scripture.
  4. Write down scriptures (long hand) and put them up around your house, office or a place where you will see them. Meditate on them daily!
  5. Get a hobby! Find something that you love to do and get busy about serving in your local church/community! Getting your eyes off of yourself and helping someone else in need will put life in perspective!

[ Heather Lindsey ]


Billy Graham tells this story illustrating godliness and contentment:

“My wife and I were invited to have lunch with one of the wealthiest men in the world. He was seventy-five years old. Tears came down his cheeks. ‘I am the most miserable man in the world,’ he said. ‘I have everything anyone could ever want. If I want to go anywhere, I have my own yacht or private plane. But down inside I’m miserable and empty.’ Shortly after, I met another man who preached in a small church nearby. He was vivacious and full of life, and he told us, ‘I don’t have a penny to my name, but I’m the happiest man in the world!’”

[ Precept Austin ]


“Contentment is being just as happy driving that Mercedes as you would be if you had to drive that jalopy from college. In both cases you’d have a ride. Contentment is taking as much pleasure in that big three-hundred-thousand-dollar house as you would a two-bedroom apartment. In both cases you’d have a roof over your head. Contentment is appreciating that T-bone steak as much as you would a hot dog. In both cases you are not starving. Contentment is being just as satisfied with the designer outfit as you would with an outfit from the thrift store. In both cases you have clothes on your back and you are not naked. Contentment is realizing that God has met your needs.”
[ Tony Evans ]


Don’t Blame God for Your Problems
James 1:12-15

Playwright Oscar Wilde once jokingly remarked, “I can resist everything except temptation.” We smile when we read those words because they speak an important truth about the human condition. Temptation pays a visit to each of us every day and most of us struggle to say no.

“What do I do when those thoughts come to me?” the young man asked. He was in his late thirties, a rising young executive, by all outward appearances the very image of success. He has a good job, is well-respected by his peers, and seems to have no trouble mixing his faith and his work. What could be wrong? As a single man in a high-powered business environment, he faces numerous temptations, many coming from the sexual arena. “I’ve asked God to give me a Christian wife, but he hasn’t answered that prayer yet. Sometimes my mind is filled with thoughts that embarrass me. And sometimes I give in to the temptation I feel.”

I was not surprised. If you change the name or a few details, it was a story I had heard many times before. In fact, it is a story as old as the Bible itself. Temptation is not new in any sense. Temptation is the same for us as it was for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan tempts us today in the same way he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. From the very beginning a battle has raged for the souls of men and women, a battle that touches all of us sooner or later.

Most spiritual battles are waged in secret
Most of the battles we face will not be enormous, life-changing decisions, or at least they won’t seem that way at the time. Either we get angry or we don’t. You stay up late to finish your homework or you make up a creative excuse. When you visit the department store you pay cash or you break your promise not to use your credit card. You repeat the unkind story you heard or you decide to keep it to yourself. You pass by the magazine rack in the airport terminal or you stop and begin to browse. You get up early to exercise or you roll over for another 30 minutes of sleep.

Either way no one else will know whether you exercised or not. No one will know (at least not till the end of the month) if you used your credit card or not. No one will know (unless you are audited) whether or not you lied on your tax return. God has ordained that our spiritual progress should be measured not by huge battles won or lost but by a thousand daily skirmishes no one else knows about.

How can we fight and win the battle against the temptations we face every day? James 1:13-15 gives us God’s answer to that important question. From this passage we discover where temptation begins, how it grows, and where it ends.

I. Where It Begins
“No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God.’ For God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone” (James 1:13).

It’s always easy to blame God for our problems.

“Lord, you put me in this situation.”
“Lord, you gave me these desires.”
“Lord, you knew I was broke.”
“Lord, you knew I was weak in that area.”

God is never the source of your problems.
Never.
Don’t even go there.

God never sets us up to fail
He doesn’t tempt people.
He never puts you in a situation where you have to sin.
Never.

God will never lead you to a place where you are forced to do evil. You may find yourself in a tough spot and under pressure you may choose to do evil, and in your mind you feel “forced” by the circumstances to do wrong, but even in those cases the choice is yours, not God’s. Said another way, God never sets us up to fail. To do that would contradict both his holiness and his love.

It helps to remember that the same Greek word in James 1 can be translated “trial” or “temptation.” That fact teaches us that any event in your life can be both a trial and a temptation.

What God means for good, Satan means for evil
God sends the trial and Satan turns it into a temptation. For instance, a sickness comes to a child of God. A deathly illness. Could that sickness be a testing from God? Yes, it could. It almost always is a test from God to purify motives, to cause the child of God to look away from the things of earth to the things of heaven, to turn us back to the Lord. Many good things are accomplished through sickness in the life of the believer. Does Satan work through sickness? Yes, he does. Through that very same sickness Satan will be working to tempt you to despair, to anger, to bitterness and to depression. God has a good purpose in mind but Satan is working through that which God intends for your good in order to pull you down.

Or you lose your job. You say, “Could that be from God?” Yes, it could. If you lose your job, could God have a better purpose in mind for you? Yes, and he often does. He may have a better job for you. He certainly wants to build some spiritual character in your life. And yet, during that time of having lost your job, which is a trial from God, Satan will tempt you to anger, despair, and discouragement.

It also works the other way. One day you get a promotion and a nice raise in your salary. Can a promotion be a trial from God? Absolutely. Prosperity is a test from God to see how you will handle his blessings. It ought to make you more generous, move loving, and more sensitive to the needs of others because God has given you so much more. But it is a temptation at the same time in that it may make you greedy and selfish.

The same event can be both a trial and a temptation
Here’s a man on a trip. He checks into a motel. He’s by himself and he’s lonely. He flops down on the bed, turns on the TV and sees a channel called “Adult Entertainment.” The man knows that he has no business watching that channel. But maybe when he’s alone and spiritually disoriented, he feels a strong urge to watch one of those movies. Does God know that channel is there? Yes, he does. Did God allow his servant to go into that room? Yes, he did. Is it a test? Absolutely. If the man passes the test he will be stronger spiritually because he said no. Is it a temptation? Yes, it is. It’s a temptation to give in to lust.

A trial becomes a temptation when we respond wrongly. What God means for good, Satan means for evil. Satan twists that which God gives us and whispers in our ear, “Go ahead. It’s okay. No one will ever know.”

II. How It Grows
“But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin” (James 1:14-15a).

Notice four things from this verse. First, the certainty of temptation: “Each person is tempted.” No one escapes temptation in this life. These familiar lines apply to all of us:

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.
Prone to leave the God I love.”

No one escapes temptation
Second, the allure of temptation: “He is drawn away and enticed.” James uses the image of a fisherman baiting a hook. Just as the fruit looked good to Eve, sin always looks good to us. Sin brings a certain degree of satisfaction. It must, or no one would ever sin. There is such a thing as the “pleasures of sin for a season.” In the short run, we can always justify losing our temper, telling a lie, cheating a friend, taking a shortcut, or indulging our fantasies.

Third, the individuality of temptation: “His own evil desires.” It’s quite true that what tempts you might not bother me at all, and what troubles me might not seem alluring to you. I’ve often thought while looking out over the fresh-faced congregation on Sunday morning that we all clean up really well. We look better on the outside than we are on the inside. If we knew the naked truth about each other, we would run screaming from the sanctuary, never to return.

Fourth, the result of temptation: “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.” Since James uses the metaphor of birth, let me apply the truth this way. If we do not use some “spiritual birth control” in our thought life, our desires will impregnate our actions and the result will be a whole bunch of little “sin babies” running around. That’s a bizarre image, but it’s not stranger than the image James uses. We must not trifle with temptation. We can’t mess with it, play with it, or dabble in it, because temptation leads to desire that leads inevitably to sin in our lives.

III. Where It Ends
“When sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death” (James 1:15b).

Twice in this passage James uses the image of birth:

Evil desire gives birth to sin.
Sin gives birth to death.

We prefer not to hear this. What could be happier than the birth of a baby? We decorate and plan and pray and save our money, we take pictures of the sonogram and post it on Facebook. We have baby showers and “gender reveal” parties and we send out elaborate birth announcements.

Passing the buck is in the human bloodstream
It’s hard to find anything more wonderful than the birth of a baby.
But not all babies are beautiful.

James uses the happy image of childbirth to remind us of an awful reality. Our evil desires grow over time, they take on a life of their own, and one day those desires give birth to sin. And sin once conceived in the heart leads only to death.

Death to us.
Death in our relationships.

“The Woman You Gave Me”
It all goes back to the Garden of Eden. The serpent came to Eve and tricked her into eating the fruit. She offered some to Adam and he ate, knowing full well the consequences of his action.

Temptation is not new in any sense
Suddenly the world became a very unfriendly place. Fear entered the human heart for the very first time. Suddenly Adam and Eve recognized their nakedness, and they were ashamed. When they heard God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, they hid. Sin had changed everything. Where once they talked with God freely, now they hid lest their sin be discovered.

At length God called out to Adam, “Where are you?” Adam answered and said, “I hid because I was naked.” God said, “Who told you that you were naked?” Then the dreaded question: “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

Adam is cornered, caught red-handed, stripped of all his excuses. God knows! What will he do? He does what any self-respecting man does. He passes the buck. His answer is a classic form of evasion: “The woman you gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). Adam passes the buck twice. First it was the woman. Then it was the woman you put here. “Lord, it was her fault. She gave me the fruit and so I ate it. What was I supposed to do? She’s my wife. You know how it is, Lord, when your wife wants you to do something. What was I supposed to do? Say no and watch her pout all night? And anyway, who put her in the garden? You did! She wasn’t my idea. I’m not complaining, Lord, because she’s beautiful and cute and all that, but I didn’t have this problem when it was just me and the animals.”

We’re born craving the fruit that leads to death
In the thousands of years since then, nothing has really changed. Human nature is the same. Passing the buck is in our spiritual bloodstream. We do it now because Adam did it back then. He established the pattern:

Disobedience leads to
Guilt which leads to
Shame which leads to
Fear which leads to
Hiding which leads to
Blaming others.

That takes us back to Genesis 2:17, “But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” That’s not exactly restrictive, is it? Let’s suppose there were 25,000 trees in the garden. If so, the command really means this: “Adam, I have given you 24,999 trees to enjoy. You can eat a pear, an apple, an orange or a grapefruit. If you want a fruit cocktail, you can have it. Would you like some peach cobbler? It’s all yours. How about some fresh coconut milk? Just climb the tree, pick one, and drink till you are full. Maybe you’d like one of those fancy fruit pizzas. Go ahead. Indulge yourself. Eat from any of the trees or from all of the trees. Eat as much as you like whenever you like. It’s all yours. But remember this. There is one tree you must avoid. If you eat the fruit of that tree, you will certainly die.”

It’s almost as if Adam couldn’t wait to sin
I imagine Adam listened carefully and perhaps even nodded gravely when he heard the warning. He probably even agreed with the Lord that it would be foolish to eat from the one forbidden tree when there were so many others available to him. And you know the rest of the story. The serpent entered, tempted Eve, she was deceived, she ate, she gave the fruit to Adam, he ate, and rebellion became a way of life for the human race.

It’s almost as if he couldn’t wait. After all, the very first time he is tempted, he gives in without even putting up a fight. Ever since then we’ve all been born with a hankering for that same forbidden fruit. We’re born craving the fruit that leads to death. We eat it and eat it and can’t seem to get enough of it. And that’s why the world is so messed up. We demanded our freedom. When we got it, it killed us.

Sin Kills!
That’s what James means when he says that sin gives birth to death.

Sin kills us.
Sin kills every human relationship.
Sin kills our relationship with God.

This is nothing beautiful about sin
When sin is full-grown, it gives birth to the monster of death.
Nothing beautiful about that.

We would all be better off if we stopped to consider the impact of our evil desires. What starts as a passing fancy becomes a settled desire becomes an overpowering impulse that leads us to foolish action that results in personal tragedy, shattered lives, hurting children, ruined careers, and broken marriages.

Worst of all, we end up separated from the God who made us.
We are truly lost, and we have only ourselves to blame.

Don’t fondle sin!
Here’s one practical application for this message. Don’t fondle sin! This obviously applies to sexual temptation, but it goes far beyond it. I mean, don’t give your mind over to thoughts of bitterness, envy, anger, lust, greed, and violence.

A Big Muddy Jar
Let’s suppose you have a big jar of muddy water that you want to change into a jar of clear water. What’s the quickest way to make the transformation? Take a garden hose and hook it up to an artesian spring filled with clear, cool, pure water. Now place the hose in the jar and turn on the water. As the clean water rushes in, it flushes out the muddy water. If you let the hose stay in the jar long enough, the muddy water will eventually be completely displaced by the clean water.

This is a parable of the Christian life. All of us are like that big jar of muddy water when we come to Christ. Some are muddier (and slimier) than others, but all of us are unclean when we find the Lord. It is the work of a lifetime to replace the muddy water of our sinful inclinations with the pure water of God’s holy character. This is the answer to our entrenched bitterness, lust, greed, hate, envy, impatience, dishonesty, and unfaithfulness.

“Your love, O Lord, come into me and drive out my anger.”
“Your holiness, Lord, enter and drive out my greed.”
“Your purity enter and drive out my lust.”
“Your mercy fill my soul and wash away my envy.”
“Your patience come in and my impatience will vanish.”
“Your grace fill me within and I can forgive.”

“All that you are, Lord Christ, All your shining beauty, all of it, come in this moment and fill me now.” Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” Take a long look at the Son of God who struggled in the wilderness and won the victory over the devil. If he won the battle, so can we because his divine power is available to us today.

“Your mercy fill my soul and wash away my envy”
In 1906 S. D. Gordon wrote a book called Quiet Talks on Service. In a chapter called “Yokefellows: The Rhythm of Service,” he tells of a man from Rhode Island who was wonderfully converted after a life largely wasted because of sin. In Gordon’s words, “He had been a rough, bad man.” He said that when he became a Christian, even the cat knew he had changed. The very next day he was going from his farm along the road to town, singing a song of praise to the Lord as he traveled. Suddenly he began to smell fumes coming from a saloon. The odor gripped him and began to overwhelm him because alcohol had be the source of so many problems in his life. Here is how S. D. Gordon tells the story:

He said he was frightened and wondered how he would get by. He had never gone by before, he said; always gone in; but he couldn’t go in now. But what to do, that was the rub. Then he smiled and said, “I remembered and I said, ‘Jesus, you’ll have to come along and help me get by, I never can by myself.’” And then in his simple, illiterate way he said, “And he came—and we went by, and we’ve been going by ever since” (p. 67).

Gordon calls this “yoked living” because when we are joined with Jesus, he goes with us wherever we go. Every temptation that comes our way, he has already felt and overcome. Every problem we face, every hard choice we must make, every sudden rush of temptation—Jesus is always with us, by our side, walking with us step by step. If we turn to him and ask for his help, he will deliver us in the moment of temptation and show us the “way of escape.”

Temptation is the common experience of the people of God. We will never escape it as long as we live in a fallen world. But God has given us everything we need to win the battle every time.

Stand and fight, child of God. The Lord is on your side.

[ Ray Pritchard ]


“Contentment”

Fierce passions discompose the mind,
As tempests vex the sea;
But calm content and peace we find,
When, Lord, we turn to Thee.

In vain by reason and by rule
We try to bend the will;
For none but in the Saviour’s school
Can learn the heavenly skill.

Since at His feet my soul has sate,
His gracious words to hear,
Contented with my present state,
I cast on Him my care.

“Art thou a sinner, soul?” He said,
“Then how canst thou complain!
How light thy troubles here, if weigh’d
With everlasting pain!

“If thou of murmuring wouldst be cured,
Compare thy griefs with mine;
Think what my love for thee endured,
And thou wilt not repine.

“‘Tis I appoint thy daily lot,
And I do all things well;
Thou soon shalt leave this wretched spot,
And rise with me to dwell.

“In life my grace shall strength supply,
Proportion’d to thy day;
At death thou [still] shalt find me nigh,
To wipe thy tears away.”

Thus I, who once my wretched days
In vain repinings spent,
Taught in my Saviour’s school of grace,
Have learnt to be content.

[ William Cowper ]


“15 Ways Satan’s Favorite Lie Ruins Your World “

[ Todd Friel ]

PRESENTATION: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkhRcPc3zSc


“Put on the Full Armor of God”

[ Scott Corfield ]

MOTIVATIONAL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWgmQfVPPtU


“When Satan Comes Knocking”

[ Robert Jeffress ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0iYJvjg9VA


“Blueprint for Your Destruction”

There are days when we don’t feel like going to church or reading our Bible. But those are the times we need God the most—because it means that we’re under spiritual attack! Today on Pathway to Victory, Dr. Robert Jeffress reveals Satan’s plan to turn our hearts away from God.

Have you ever felt like every person and circumstance in life was working against you? According to the Bible, that’s exactly how Satan wants you to feel! Today on Pathway to Victory, Dr. Robert Jeffress reveals the first two strategies in Satan’s three-fold plan to ruin your life.

[ Robert Jeffress ]

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-qO29LsdL8
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHW4ud-j0Dg


“The Armor of God”

Sermon Series by John MacArthur:

– Part 1: “The Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-13)”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hf4ru2044yI

– Part 2: “The Belt of Truthfulness and the Breastplate of Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14)”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS1j9aK1ufg

– Part 3: “The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace and The Shield of Faith (Ephesians 6:15-16)”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNSoLy4cvqg

– Part 4: “The Helmet of Salvation (Ephesians 6:17)”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti0kP0ypobQ

– Part 5: “The Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17)”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmvveRkJ8z8

– Part 6: “Praying at All Times (Ephesians 6:18-20)”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPZxnMPuDkw


“Victory in Spiritual Warfare”

VIDEO: “The War Revealed and Strongholds Defined”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJqqp3fac3o

VIDEO: “Putting on the Armor”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEtCW-uQ09g

VIDEO: “The Belt of Truth”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIqMHvkQ9jM

VIDEO: “The Breastplate of Righteousness”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSc5axhH5GE

VIDEO: “The Footsteps Of Peace”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyANehm_QgE

VIDEO: “The Shield of Faith”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw79VwnznvA

VIDEO: “The Helmet of Salvation”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2AwADzZlmw

VIDEO: “The Sword of the Spirit”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koIWH1AI_0U

VIDEO: “The Need for Spiritual Armor”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWHGiHegzgI

[ Tony Evans ]


“How to Shut the Devil’s Mouth”

O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” Psalms 8:1, 2, KJV.

“And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?” Matthew 21:16, KJV.

The best way to shut the devil’s mouth is to start praising God.

Satan (the enemy and the avenger) is always speaking lies. Here’s a sample set of his deceptive words:

“You’ll never be healed.”

“You’ve failed so many times, God can never use you.”

“You’ll never overcome that habit.”

“Everybody is against you.”

“You’ll never amount to anything.” Yak. Yak. Yak.

If you let him, the devil will harass you like that until the day you leave this earth. But you don’t have to allow it. You can put a stop to it NOW! Praise stills the voice of the enemy and avenger!

Praise is so powerful! When a multitude of armies came up against Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, he proclaimed a fast and sought help from the Lord. The Spirit of God came upon the prophet and told them that they would not need to fight in the battle. Then the Lord led Jehoshaphat to send a team of praise and worshippers out ahead of his army.

“And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.” 2 Chronicles 20:21, 22, KJV.

Would you like for the Lord to ambush the enemy who is trying to destroy you with negative thoughts, words and emotions? Start praising God! Praise Him with all your heart. Praise Him for His goodness. Praise Him according to all the truth of His Word.

Psalm 22.3 tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people. The Lord Himself literally lives in those praises. His presence is manifested and His power is released as you praise Him.

We all recognize that God is more powerful than the devil, but what we fail to realize is that WE have a part in releasing God’s power against the enemy. As the scripture says, “Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;” Psalms 149:5, 6, KJV. When you praise God with His Word, the devil is defeated.

So begin to praise God! Praise Him with the Psalms. Hit him over the head with New Testament truth. Say, “The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever! Thank you Father that Jesus died for me personally. His blood was shed for me. Jesus is my Lord! Thank you for your mercy, Father. I praise you that I am forgiven. I am cleansed. I am the righteousness of God. I am a child of God. I am healed. Thank you Lord that greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. I praise you Father that I have a bright future, in Jesus name.”

The Lord has ordained praise to bring a release of His power and glory. Stop saying, “When is God going to do something in my life?” Start praising Him instead for what He has already done through the cross and resurrection. Jesus is alive! As you praise Him, you are releasing His resurrection power.

Put the devil in his proper place—under your feet. Don’t listen to his lies. Instead, magnify the Lord in your life and circumstance through praise.

We are praying for you every day!

[ Tom Shanklin ]


“Waiting Only Upon God”

Calvin translates this verse, “My soul, be thou silent before God.” Rest calm and undisturbed. Thine enemies are round about thee, and have sore beset thee thy troubles do surround thee like strong bulls of Bashan; but rest, my soul, in God. Thine enemies are mighty, but HE IS Almighty; thy troubles are grievous, but he is greater than thy troubles, and he shall deliver thee from them. Let not thy soul be agitated. The wicked are like the troubled sea that cannot rest: be not thou like unto them. Be thou calm: let not a wave ruffle thine untroubled spirit. “Cast thy burden on the Lord,” and then sleep on his bosom. Commit thy way unto Jehovah, and then rest in sure and certain confidence, for

“He everywhere hath sway,
And all things serve his might;
His every act pure blessing is,
His path unsullied light.” [ more… ]

[ Charles Haddon Spurgeon ]

SERMON TEST: https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/waiting-only-upon-god/#flipbook/


“Satisfaction in God”

Our continual apprehension [understanding, grasp] of God, may produce our continual satisfaction in God, under all His dispensations. Whatever enjoyments are by God conferred upon us, where lies the relish, where the sweetness of them? Truly, we may come to relish our enjoyments, only so far as we have something of God in them. It was required in PsalmCotton Mather (1663-1728), American Puritan minister. xxxvii. 4, “Delight thyself in the Lord.” Yea, and what if we should have no delight but the Lord? Let us ponder with ourselves over our enjoyments: “In these enjoyments I see God, and by these enjoyments, I serve God!”

And now, let all our delight in, and all our value and fondness for our enjoyments, be only, or mainly, upon such a divine score as this. As far as any of our enjoyments lead us unto God, so far let us relish it, affect it, embrace it, and rejoyce in it: “O taste, and feed upon God in all;” and ask for nothing, no, not for life itself, any further than as it may help us, in our seeing and our serving of our God.

And then, whatever afflictions do lay fetters upon us, let us not only remember that we are concerned with God therein, but let our concernment with God procure a very profound submission in our souls. Be able to say with him in Psalm xxxix. 9, “I open not my mouth, because thou didst it.” In all our afflictions, let us remark the justice of that God, before whom, “why should a living man complain for the punishment of his sin?” The wisdom of that God, “whose judgments are right:” the goodness of that God, who “punishes us less than our iniquities do deserve.” Let us behave ourselves, as having to do with none but God in our afflictions: And let our afflictions make us more conformable unto God: which conformity being effected, let us then say, “‘Tis good for me that I have been afflicted.”

Sirs, what were this, but a pitch of holiness, almost angelical! Oh! Mount up, as with the wings of eagles, of angels: be not a sorry, puny, mechanick sort of Christians any longer; but reach forth unto these things that are thus before you.

[ Cotton Mather ]


“Three Answers to Prayer”

Sometimes we think a prayer wasn’t answered when, in effect, it was. It just wasn’t answered in the affirmative.

When we ask God for something and He says, “No,” then it means no. So if we want our prayers answered in the affirmative, then we need to align ourselves with God’s will.

God answers prayer in three ways: yes, no, and wait. Sometimes He wants you to grow through your challenge. The apostle Paul came to God with a prayer to remove a physical infirmity. We don’t know what it was, but most commentators believe it was either a disability or an injury he suffered as a result of his ministry. Clearly there were many occasions this could have happened, because Paul was beaten, whipped, shipwrecked, and even put in prison and left for dead on one occasion. You name it, and Paul pretty much went through it.

Whatever the infirmity was, it bothered Paul. So he asked God to take it away. But God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Sometimes God does not take our adversity away, but He wants us to grow through it.

Then there was Moses, who wanted to see the Israelites delivered from bondage in Egypt. He didn’t wait on God, but instead took matters into his own hands and killed an Egyptian guard. When the Pharaoh found out about it, he effectively put out a contract on Moses’ life, and Moses went into exile for 40 years. Moses had the right idea, but his timing was way off.

Sometimes God will say, “Yes,” sometimes He will say, “No,” and sometimes He will say, “Wait.” But we can be assured that when we passionately cry out to God by faith, He hears us.

[ Greg Laurie ]


“God answers prayer 3 ways- “Yes”, “No” and “Wait!”

[ Greg Laurie ]

TEACHING: https://www.facebook.com/harvest.greglaurie/videos/god-answers-prayer-3-ways-yes-no-and-waitmore-here-/1275744226285044/


“How Much Land does a Man Need?”

[ Leo Tolstoy – Krauss Audio Books ]

AUDIO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Tu8F-2l8k


<<< SONGS >>>


Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

[ Alan Jackson – “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO4uIyz_d90


It Is Enough

I cannot be poor if I am in Christ
In Him I am full and abound
Though everything else should all pass away
I’m rich if in Him I am found

It is enough that I am in Christ
Enough that His mercy I see
It is enough that I taste of His grace
Enough that His love has found me

Pursue not this world, its wisdom and ways
Contentment eludes those who try
For all in this world is fading away
And soon will all wither and die

It is enough that I am in Christ
Enough that His mercy I see
It is enough that I taste of His grace
Enough that His love has found me.

[ Ken Puls – “The Lord Is My Delight” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMg8LWO5Uag


Enough

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

You are my supply
My breath of life
And still more awesome than I know
You’re the coming King
You are everything
And still more awesome than I know

All of You is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You is more than enough

You?re my sacrifice
Of greatest price
And still more awesome than I know
You?re the coming King
You are everything
And still more awesome than I know

More than all I want
More than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know
More than all I can say
You are more than enough for me

[ Chris Tomlin – “Not To Us” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87Ig-lnWjzQ


God Will Work It Out

Before I knew my name, before I drew a breath
He was making ways for me
Now and everyday, in each and every step
He is making ways for me

When my heart is full of doubt
Feels like faith is running out
I’ve come too far to turn around
I know

God will work it out
God will work it out
One thing I know
One thing I’ve found
God will work it out, woah
Oh, yes, He will
Oh, things are coming together

Pushing past the fear, fighting to relief
He is making ways for me
And He won’t let me down, never ever leave
He’s still making ways for me

When my heart is full of doubt
It feels like faith is running out
I’ve come too far to turn back ’round
I know (I know)

God will work it out
God will work it out
One thing I know
One thing I’ve found
No, I know God will work it out
Oh, God will work it out
God will work it out
One thing I know
One thing I’ve found
Oh, God will work it out

Oh
Be encouraged
Be encouraged
Be encouraged, oh

Be still my soul
Be still and know
Lean in, take hold
In God alone
Be still my soul
Be still and know
Lean in, take hold
In God alone (Ooh)
Be still my soul
Be still and know
Lean in, take hold
In God alone
(Be still) be still (oh, my soul) my soul
(Be still) be still and know
Lean in, take hold
In God alone

God will work it out
Oh, I know God will work it out
One thing I know
One thing I’ve found
Oh, that God will work it out
Oh, I know God will work it out (Yeah)
God will work it out
One thing I know
One thing I’ve found
Oh, my God will work it out
Oh, my God will work it out (oh, yes, He will, yes, He will)
God will work it out
(One thing) one thing I know
(One thing) one thing I’ve found
(One thing I know) one thing I know
(One thing I’ve found) one thing I’ve found
(I can testify that) one thing I know
One thing I’ve found
(One thing I know) one thing I know
(One thing I’ve found) one thing I’ve found
(One thing I know) one thing I know
One thing I’ve found
Oh, my God will work it out
Yes, my God will work it out (oh, yes, He will)
Oh, God will work it out

He’s working right now
He’s working right now
He’s working right now
He’s working right now
He’s working right now
He’s working right now
I know it, I know it
He’s working right now
I believe His work

God is working now
God is working now
One thing I know
One thing I’ve found
Oh, God is working now (Come on, just sing it one more time, sing it out)
God is working now (yes, He is, yes, He is)
God is working now
One thing I know
One thing I’ve found
My God is working now
One thing I know
One thing I’ve found
God is working now

[ Maverick City Music ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzLCE5X_h7A


The Hard Way

Some people gotta learn the hard way
I guess I’m the kind of guy that has to find out for myself
I had to learn the hard way, Father
I’m on my knees and I’m cryin’ for help (For help, for help)
Ooh ooh-ooh

[Verse 1: TobyMac]
Now I’ve been high and I’ve been low
I’ve been some places that you will not go
I never thought there would come the day
When I wished I never woulda lived this way
[Pre-Chorus 1: Michael Tait]
But I’ve been searchin’ for a long, long time
I thought the Devil was a friend of mine
I turned my back on everything that was true
And wasted years that belong to You

[Chorus: Kevin Max & Michael Tait]
Some people gotta learn the hard way (Ooh ooh-ooh)
I guess I’m the kinda guy that has to find out for myself
I had to learn the hard way, Father (Ooh ooh-ooh)
I’m on my knees and I’m cryin’ for help (For help, for help)

[Verse 2: TobyMac]
It took so long for me to see
That I’m a victim of a nature and me
Left to myself I realize
I am a maker of my own demise

[Pre-Chorus 2: Michael Tait]
But You accept me every time and again
And never mention just how selfish I’ve been
Why must it always take me so long to see
That I have fallen but You will forgive me?

[Chorus: Kevin Max & Michael Tait]
Some people gotta learn the hard way (Ooh ooh-ooh)
I guess I’m the kind of guy who’s got to find out for myself
I had to learn the hard way, Father (Ooh ooh-ooh)
I’m on my knees and I’m cryin’… (I’m cryin’, I’m cryin’)

[Post-Chorus: Kevin Max]
…For Your help
Oh, I need Your help

[Chorus: Kevin Max & Michael Tait]
Some people gotta learn the hard way (Ooh ooh-ooh)
I guess I’m the kind of guy who’s got to find out for myself
I had to learn the hard way, Father (Ooh ooh-ooh)
I’m on my knees and I’m cryin’… (And I’m cryin’, and I’m cryin’)

[Bridge: TobyMac]
The warning signs are like flares in the night
Still I proceed my greed is in spite of the fire
I know that’s bound to burn
Why is it that I always gotta learn…

[Outro: TobyMac & Michael Tait]
The hard way? The hard way (Ooh ooh-ooh)
I had to learn the hard way
The hard way, the hard way (Ooh ooh-ooh)
I had to learn the hard way
Ooh ooh-ooh
Ooh ooh-ooh
Ooh ooh-ooh
Ooh ooh-ooh

[ DC Talk – “The Hardway” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUA-tGisDsg


Story of Life

Sometimes life is fragile
Seems like it’s coming undone
Sometimes you’re over a barrel
Sometimes you’re under the gun
Sometimes life is easy

Just a walk in the park
Sometimes life’s a gamble
Just a shot in the dark
Another day in other words

CHORUS:
In the story of life
I’ve found the only way
I can ever survive
Is reading by the light of my faith
Hope is alive
And love turns another page
And Heaven is mine
When the Author signs His name on my heart
In the story of life

Somewhere there’s Someone watching
He is the watcher of me
He gives the story meaning
Gives me a reason to be
For it is written in words

[ Sierra – “Story of Life” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHX2m3d8qdw


“What God Hath Promised”

God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

Refrain:
But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing kindness, undying love.

God has not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He has not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

God has not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.

[ Melody: Joe F. Gibson – Poem: Annie Johnson Flint ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOwEj2q2Ce4


Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
his holy will abideth;
I will be still, whate’er he doth,
and follow where he guideth.
He is my God; though dark my road,
he holds me that I shall not fall:
wherefore to him I leave it all.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
he never will deceive me;
he leads me by the proper path;
I know he will not leave me.
I take, content, what he hath sent;
his hand can turn my griefs away,
and patiently I wait his day.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
though now this cup, in drinking,
may bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it, all unshrinking.
My God is true; each morn anew
sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
and pain and sorrow shall depart.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
here shall my stand be taken;
though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
yet am I not forsaken.
My Father’s care is round me there;
he holds me that I shall not fall:
and so to him I leave it all.

[ Written by: Samuel Rodigast; Music: Sovereign Grace Music; Artist: Bob Kauflin ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-yJ3xMVUDI


A Prayer for Pilgrims

“As I walked through the wilderness of this world,
I lighted on a certain place where was a den …” (John Bunyan)

Burdened Pilgrim at prayer

A Burdened Sinner

  1. Lord, we pray for those now burdened
    ‘Neath the weight and guilt of sin,
    Those who read Your Word and tremble
    As conviction grows within.
    Father, help us point to Jesus,
    Those who flee the coming wrath,
    That they find the gate and entrance
    To the cross, Salvation’s path.

The Slough of Despond

  1. Lord, we pray for those now sinking,
    Doubting in the mire of sin,
    Though alone they vainly struggle,
    Help can bring them out again.
    Father, send Your precious Spirit,
    Lift them up on solid ground,
    Point them to each Gospel promise
    That their hope may soon abound.

Worldly Wiseman

  1. Lord, we pray for those misguided,
    Who have wandered from the path,
    Led astray by Worldly Wisdom,
    Now in danger of Your wrath.
    Father, help us go and point them
    Once again to seek the cross.
    With rebuke and firm correction,
    Pull them from Destruction’s loss.

The Wicket-Gate

  1. Lord, we pray for those now knocking,
    Searching for relief from sin,
    May Good-Will meet them with favor
    As they seek to enter in.
    Father, pull them inside quickly,
    Lest the Devil’s arrows kill.
    Fence them round with Your salvation
    As they go to Calv’ry’s Hill.

The House of the Interpreter

  1. Lord, we pray for those inquiring
    At the House of Your blest Word,
    Take them through each room and teach them
    Then apply what they have heard.
    Father, send Interpretation,
    By Your Spirit make them wise.
    Brightly shine illumination
    On the truth before their eyes.

The Cross

  1. Lord, we pray for those now standing
    Near the cross and empty grave.
    Lord, again show forth Your mercy,
    Graciously reach down to save.
    Father, loose from them their burden,
    Take the guilt and curse of sin,
    May it fall and roll and tumble
    Never to be seen again.

The Hill Difficulty

  1. Lord, we pray for those now climbing
    Difficulty’s steep ascent.
    Help them overcome each struggle,
    Though their strength be nearly spent.
    Father, help them not to cower,
    Veering to the left or right;
    Strengthen them to face each trial
    Pressing forward to the height.

The Pleasant Arbour

  1. Lord, we pray please, keep us watchful
    In Your Arbour as we rest;
    Lest the Roll of Your assurance
    For a time fall from our breast.
    Father, come and keep us wakeful,
    Wipe the dulling sleep away;
    Lest the night soon overtake us,
    Let us journey while it’s day.

House Beautiful

  1. Lord, please guide each wand’ring Pilgrim
    Often to Your place of rest;
    Bring them to Your House of Beauty,
    There, their souls refresh and bless.
    Father, may they find instruction,
    Pleasant discourse of Your grace.
    Fit them with Your Spiritual Armor
    For the battles they must face.

The Valley of Humiliation and
The Valley of the Shadow of Death

  1. Lord, we pray for those descending
    Into Valleys deep and dark;
    Light their pathway, Guide their footsteps,
    Give them courage to embark.
    Father, as they fight the battle,
    Facing Satan, fear, and sin;
    Help them, Lord, to rise when fallen,
    By Your grace the vict’ry win.

Vanity Fair

  1. Lord, we pray for those now passing
    Vanity’s alluring Fair.
    Keep them from the world’s temptations;
    Sanctify them as they’re there.
    Father, help them to be Faithful,
    Though the world would make them bend,
    Pressured hard by persecution;
    Keep them safe until the end.

Doubting Castle

  1. Lord, we pray for those imprisoned
    By Despair, who lie in grief;
    Locked in Doubting Castle’s dungeon,
    Stripped of hope and its relief.
    Father help them to remember
    In Your promise is the key;
    Now unlock the door that bars them,
    In the Gospel, set them free.

The Delectable Mountains

  1. Lord, we thank You for the Mountains
    Where You bring Your flocks to feed;
    Guided by Your watchful Shepherds,
    We find truth for every need.
    Father, give us words of Caution,
    Help us see Immanuel’s Land,
    Keep us from the cliffs of Error,
    Make us on good ground to stand.

The Flatterer and
Enchanted Ground

  1. Lord, we pray please teach Your trav’lers
    Of the Flatterer to beware,
    Set them free and then chastise them
    If they fall into his snare.
    Father, help them not grow drowsy
    As they cross Enchanted Ground;
    Stir their souls with lively discourse
    Of the precious grace they’ve found.

The River

  1. Lord, we pray for those now crossing
    Through the River, death’s cold tide.
    Help them through its flowing current,
    Bring them safe on Canaan’s side.
    Father, send Your hosts to greet them,
    Bear them up before Your throne,
    Sound the trump of celebration,
    One more Pilgrim has come home.

The Gate to the Celestial City

  1. Lord, we pray for ev’ry Pilgrim,
    Final entrance we’ll not miss;
    For beside the Gates to Heaven
    Lies a way to the Abyss.
    Father, fit us for Your kingdom,
    From the greatest to the least,
    Clothe us in Your righteous garments
    For the coming wedding feast.

[ Ken Puls ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuZPT2NAFh0


(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

When I’m drivin’ in my car
And that man comes on the radio
And he’s tellin’ me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination

I can’t get no, oh no no no
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say
I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

When I’m watchin’ my TV
And that man comes on to tell me
How white my shirts can be
But he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke
The same cigarettes as me

I can’t get no, oh no no no
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say
I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no girl reaction
Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no

When I’m ridin’ round the world
And I’m doin’ this and I’m signing that
And I’m tryin’ to make some girl
Who tells me baby better come back later next week
Cause you see I’m on losing streak

I can’t get no, oh no no no
Hey hey hey, that’s what I say
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
I can’t get no satisfaction
No satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction.

[ The Rolling Stones – “Out of Our Heads” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrIPxlFzDi0


<<< APOLOGETIX SONGS >>>


Complain
(Parody of “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton)

If your plans don’t work out
You start to shake and shout — complain
Yes, you moan on your couch
Like Oscar the Grouch — complain
She don’t like, he don’t like, we don’t like – complain

If you get bad news
You ought to pray but you – complain
When your day is done
And it wasn’t fun – complain
She don’t like, he don’t like, we don’t like – complain

If you’re really headstrong
And you wanna gripe on, OK
Don’t forget this fact
Israel way back – complained
Israelites, Israelites, Israelites – complained

She don’t like, he don’t like, we don’t like – complain

[ ApologetiX – “Doves in Snakes’ Clothing” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlBiew86NaI


Don’t Fear the People
( Parody of “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult)

Fallen times have come. We can’t turn and run
Stephen didn’t fear the people,
Not even when they stoned him to death
We can be like he was
C’mon, baby
(Don’t fear the people)
Baby, take your stand
(Don’t fear the people)
And be ready to die
(Don’t fear the people)
Baby, they’re just men
When the fire was done, Nero burned Christians
Rome of old was full of men
Martyred for their Christianity
(Rome of old was full of men)
Although they tried they couldn’t kill them anyway
(Rome of old was full of men)
The more that died the more that came to take their place
(Read in your history book)
And now the Coliseum is an empty place
(We can be like they were)
CHORUS
Harken to the one — who was God’s own Son:
Fear not man in his madness
Who if he killed your body couldn’t go on
The Lord’s the only one that you should fear
The person who first put you here
Who can certainly do something more severe
(When you’re thrown in the grave)
C’mon baby
(That’s the one to fear)
Defend the faith
(Like the martyrs who died)
Let’s get back to the faith they had
(We can become like they were)
They had taken a stand
(We can become like they were)
C’mon baby
(Don’t fear the people)

[ ApologetiX – “Grace Period” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXYI4Ut6Xig


Reading Habakkuk
(Parody of “Radioactive” by The Firm)

Well, he prophesied — something unexpected
Turning on the light — ’cause I’m a-reading Habakkuk, reading Habakkuk

Babylon would fight (ha!) — and take all them captive
What a rude surprise for even Habakkuk, even Habakkuk

My Lord, I’m plain confused
Why don’t You make a move?
He said, I won’t delay their doom — and I want you to know

God controls men’s fate — won’t be inactive
Turning wrong to right — go on waiting Habakkuk, waiting Habakkuk
LEAD

Reading Habakkuk, reading Habakkuk

My Lord, I’ll wait for You
I don’t want to complain to You
I want just to pray this through — and I watch for You and know

Righteous live by faith — both preached and practiced
Learn the truth tonight — from reading Habakkuk
Oh yeah! Oh, yeah-eh-yay-yeah
Ohhhhhh yeah – reading Habakkuk — mmmmm mmmmm
Won’t you check — verse 2:4 — you’ll like that, kids – huh
Go check 2:4 — baby – reading Habakkuk – oh yeah
Crazy old, crazy old, crazy old, crazy Habakkuk – uh ho
Uh huh oh – ohh yeah
I’ve been reading old, reading old, reading old, reading Habakkuk

[ ApologetiX – “Minor League” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afQVBAtpHeo


God Speaks
(Parody of “Don’t Speak” By Gwen Stefaini)

You and me
We used to read together
Every day to gather knowledge
I really feel — that you’re choosin’ a dead end
You can’t believe the good things He said
It looks as though — you’ve let Him go
And if He’s real you might not want to know

God speaks — You know just what He’s sayin’
So please stop complainin’
Don’t yell, because you’ve heard
God speaks — I know where to seek Him
I will keep on readin’
Don’t fail to trust His Word

All men are free
They can read the writing
But comin’ up to God Almighty’s frightening
As we die — both you and I
Will be headin’ to Him who sits on high

God speaks — You know just what He’s sayin’
So please stop complainin’
Don’t yell, because you’ve heard
No, no, no-oh
God speaks — I know where to seek Him
And I will keep on readin’
Don’t fail to trust His Word

It’s heart-rending
You oughta stop pretending
You’re fooling us

You have needs — I can see you’re dyin’
Call me

God speaks — You know just what He’s sayin’
So please stop complainin’
Don’t yell, because you’ve heard
No, no — God speaks — I know where to seek Him
And I will keep on readin’
Don’t fail to trust His Word
Don’t fail to trust His Word

We all know what He’s sayin’
So please stop complainin’
God speaks, God speaks, God speaks, oh
I know where to seek Him
And I will keep on readin’
You know you should — I know you could — you know, you still could, oh

La la la la
La la la la
Don’t — go — ooh, ooh
Hush, God’s callin’ ‑ Hush, God’s callin’
Hush, hush
Don’t yell, because you’ve heard
Hush, God’s callin’ — Hush, God’s callin’
Hush, hush
Don’t fail to trust His Word
Ooh … Hush, God’s callin’ — Hush, God’s callin’

[ ApologetiX – “Decent Alternative” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ED2gl2Xqw2U


Smells Like Thirtysomething Spirit
(Parody of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana)

Load up on grunge and be depressed
It’s fun to do for two minutes
There’s no award for self-absorbed
Before you know you’re 34
You’re old, you’re old, you’re old, how old (4X)

Man, it’s nice out, and this day is
Made by God now, celebrate it
Life is too brief, let’s complain less
You Nirvana imitators
Look at Dave Grohl, for example
Now he’s cheerful
Like the Beatles — yeah!
Hey! Yay!

Now worship’s not what I do best
It’s hardest if I feel depressed
But when I do exalt His name,
It always helps to kill the pain
Hallel, hallel, hallel, hallel (4X)

We’re alive now, and this day is
Made by God now, and we’re plain blessed
Don’t be stupid couch potatoes
You’re not Elvis in Las Vegas
Try to not go avocado
Try to be mo’ jalapeno — yeah!
Hey! Pray!

And I forget things while I praise
Oh yeah, His blessings make me smile
I’ve found it’s hard — it’s hard to whine
And yell with Heaven on mind
Hallel, hallel, hallel, hallel (4X)

When we’re wiped out, and this day gets
Very hard now, and it drains us
I’ve read through this in Isaiah
Wait on God now, and He’ll take us
From the bottom of the barrel
To the ski slope — fly like eagles
Jeremiah — 29 the — ‘leventh line does
Let us smile ‘cause — better times are — set to find us
Never mind Doug, Wendy Whiner — get on fire!

[ ApologetiX – “Grace Period” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBrEKHFH0nk


Cunning Is The Devil
(Parody of “Running with the Devil” performed by Van Halen)

I lived my life like there’s no good morals
Didn’t follow God – I laughed at Sheol
He’s not extinct — no stegosaurus
Yes, God is livin’ and old Satan’s real

Oooh yeah – hey-uh-uhh
Cunning is the Devil
Uh huh yeah-eah
Woo hoo woo
Cunning is the Devil
He’ll tell you all to doubt it

I found the sinful life ain’t so simple
Ain’t no snowplows — on that road
It got so rough – too rough to “four-wheel”
It’s like my body – Satan controlled

Ah yeah-eh-eh!
Cunning is the Devil
God said it, baby – you know He ain’t lyin’ to you
He’s only gonna tell you what’s right — uhhh yeah
Cunning is the Devil
Guess I’m scammed – Yeah!

You know I — I found the sinful life weren’t so simple, no
And I slumped down from that load
I got so low – so low I could kneel
I talked to God and — gave Him control

Uhhh yeah
Come and leave the Devil
Oh, God – Oh, God, I’m coming! Ahhhhh, yeah
Come and leave the Devil
Uh! Uh! I don’t want more time

Heyyyyy yeah!
Come and leave the Devil
Uh yuh Uh yuhhhh yeah!
Come and leave the Devil
Wwoo! Wwwoo!
Come and leave the Devil
Uh huh, yeah! Uh huh, yeah! Uh-uh huh, yeah!
Come and leave the Devil
Ooo!

[ ApologetiX – “Only a Glorified Cover Band” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bm-5ATC-pek


(Check Out) The Book
(Parody of “The Look” by Roxette)

God provides a plan – givin’ life forever
He rejuvenates man – many won’t consider
They just like to blame God — check out the Book

Skeptics they abound – just haven’t got enough of
Those who did read it around – can’t get past the cover
Hey, brother, here’s a wild thought: check out the Book

Check out the Book (Check out the Book)
Check out the Book (Check out the Book)
How can the world complain the Bible’s words aren’t true?
Their heavy thinkers never do have proof for you
But I go, la la la la … Check out the Book!

Bible, it supplies – naked truth to people
If you love to get wise – baby, don’t be headstrong
Check it like a math book – check out the Book

Read it to the end – you get life in Heaven
If you hear His command – and love Him with devotion
This is just a wasteland — check out the Book!

Check out the Book (Check out the Book)
Check out the Book (Check out the Book)
How can the world complain the Bible’s words aren’t true?
Their heavy thinkers never do have proof for you
But I go, la la la la … Check out the Book!

Oww!!!
LEAD

Would you like a plan — givin’ life forever?
It’s the truth and not a scam — and everyone’s a winner
They just have to namedrop — check out the Book
And we go

Na na na na na
Na na na na na
Na na na na na na
Na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na
Check out the Book!

Check out the Book (Check out the Book)
Check out the Book (Check out the Book)
How can the world complain the Bible’s words aren’t true?
Their heavy thinkers never do have proof for you
But I go, la la la la … Check out the Book!

How can the world complain it’s not true?
Their heaviest thinkers never do have proof for you
But I go, la la la la …

Na na na na na
Na na na na na
Na na na na na na
Na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na
Check out the Book!
And we go
Na na na na na
Na na na na na
Na na na na na na
Na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na
Check out the Book!
Check out the book, amigos!
Na na na na na
Na na na na na
Na na na na na na
Na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na
Check out the Book!
Check out the book, amigos!
Na na na na na
Na na na na na
Na na na na na na
Na na na na na
Na na na na na na na na
Check out the Book!!!
Check out the Book!!!

[ ApologetiX – “Sandwich Platter” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vu8m4yQIMQ


We’re Not Goin’ to Canaan
(Parody of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister)

We got 12 spies to view it
They made their way all though it
Yes, Israelites, they said you’re soft
Despite the powers of Egypt
God picked us just to reach it
He drove the bus — you won’t get off

We’re not goin’ to Canaan
No, we ain’t goin’ to Canaan
We’re not goin’ to Canaan anymore

Your loss of confidence stinks
(It’s) your fault we’re never entering
You don’t wanna rough it ‘cause you think they’re huge
No one who whined will taste it
Only just Josh and Caleb
As for the rest, you best go move

Whoa-oh-oh
Whoa-oh-oh
You’re right (Yeah!)
We’re weak (Yeah!)
They’ll fight (Yeah!)
You’ll flee (Yeah!)

Whoa-oh
We’re not goin’ to Canaan
No, we ain’t goin’ to Canaan
We’re not goin’ to Canaan anymore
We’re not goin’ to Canaan
No, we ain’t goin’ to Canaan
We’re not goin’ to Canaan anymore
Go away!

LEAD

Whoa-oh-oh
Whoa-oh-oh
You’re right (Yeah!)
We’re weak (Yeah!)
They’ll fight (Yeah!)
You’ll flee (Yeah!)

We’re not goin’ to Canaan
No, we ain’t goin’ to Canaan
We’re not goin’ to Canaan anymore
We’re not goin’ to Canaan (No!)
No, we ain’t goin’ to Canaan
We’re not goin’ to Canaan anymore (Don’t you try to take it)
We’re not goin’ to Canaan (C’mon)
No, we ain’t goin’ to Canaan (You’re all worse than the sheep)
We’re not goin’ to Canaan anymore (Now stop and get repentant)
We’re not goin’ to Canaan (Oppression?!)
No, we ain’t goin’ to Canaan (Ah, you’re true to form!)
We’re not goin’n to Canaan anymore

[ ApologetiX – “Loaded 45’s” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmjCAzD1v_g


He Really Got Mad
(Parody of “You Really Got Me” by Van Halen and The Kinks)

Yeah, they really got Him goin’
They got Him so mad there was trouble brewin’
Yeah, they really got Him mad
They got Him so mad He was not nice
Oh, yeah, they really got Him mad
The Gospels show the temple was in ruins, now, now Oh, Yeah, they really got Him mad
He started throwin’ out the bad guys
He really got mad! He really got mad! He really got mad!

He called it a den of thieves
He only wanted to see it purified
Yeah, they really got Him mad
He stopped the show and said it’s not right
Oh, yeah, they really got Him mad
They bought and sold and kept the money movin’, now, now Oh, yeah, they really got Him mad
They got His goat — I told ya 10 times
He really got mad! He really got mad! He really got mad!

People seem to have a misconception about what the Bible says about money Some people think the Bible says that money is the root of all evil
But what the Bible literally says is the love of money is the root of
All sorts of evil, all kinds of evil
Jesus Himself says that man cannot serve both God and money He will love one and he will hate the other
So, which one are you going to love — God or money?
Now the love of money is not love at all — it’s avarice
And the only true kind of love is the love that comes from above The love of God, and God is love
And as you know from First Corinthians 13, it says

You ain’t squat without love
The love that’s gotten through the Lord
Ain’t squat without love
It’s like First John, chapter 4 — chapter 4, chapter 4

See, it’s in First Timothy
The love of money’s evil, no lie
Yeah, you’ll read in chapter 6
With food and clothes we should be satisfied
Oh, yeah, you’ll read that godliness
Is not just so we can keep money accruing, now, now Oh, yeah, you’ll read that godliness
Just on its own is immensely gratifying
We really want that! Ow! Ow!
We really want that! We really want that!
Oh! Oh! Ohhhhhh! Yeah!

[ ApologetiX – “The Boys Aren’t Backin’ Down” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAJJOImxGg4


Triune Godhead
(Parody of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones)

God was at the resurrection.
God was at the resurrection.
There’s a Tri- (x4)
Triune Godhead! Triune Godhead!

Well, in Romans 6 verse 4,
Well it says the Father raised the son.
John 2:19 shows some more
about how Jesus did the raising.

Go to 1 Peter 3 verse 18,
the spirit did so.
I know those quotes.
Uh, hey, hey hey!
That’s what it says.

God was at the Earth’s creation.
God was at the Earth’s creation.
There’s a Tri- (x4)
Triune Godhead! Triune Godhead!

In Colossians 1:16 and again in John 1
it tells me how Christ made everything
But in 1:2 in Hebrews and Genesis
it seems to suggest all three
Persons did so.

I know those quotes.
Uh, hey, hey, hey!
That’s what it says.

God was in the Great Commission.
God was at the Lord’s Baptism.
There’s a Tri- (x4)
Triune Godhead! Triune Godhead!

When Christ sent them around the world,
in Matthew 28 He said
to baptize in the name of
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

In Luke 3, when the Lord was baptized
they heard God speak.
And the Spirit dove
it flew you see.

I can’t forget those!
Uh, no, no no!
Uh, hey, hey, hey!
That’s what it says.

I can’t forget the
Triune Godhead!

God was at the resurrection,
the Earth’s creation,
the Great Commission,
the Lord’s Baptism.
I can’t forget those!

[ ApologetiX – “I Know You Are but What Am I?” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7_RyzdVR8o


Not Named Job
(Parody of “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger)

Just take that old Bible off the shelf
I’m sick of feelin’ sorry for myself
Today’s problems might be bad but even so
I thank the Lord that I’m not named Job

Job was righteous man with lots of wealth
He had a family and perfect health
But circumstances got beyond his control
I thank the Lord that I’m not named Job

I thank the Lord that I’m not named Job
That kind of sufferin’ would kill my soul
When I start gettin’ down and feelin’ low
I thank the Lord that I’m not named Job

He lost his family, he lost his sheep
He lost his animals, his friends were creeps
He lost his temper, man, but not his control
I thank the Lord that I’m not named Job

CHORUS

Call it a fable, but I know it’s true
Say I’m old-fashioned but I’ll say this to you
I’m just so awful glad it happened long ago
I thank the Lord that I’m not named Job

CHORUS

CHORUS

I thank the Lord that I’m not named Job
That kind of sufferin’ would kill my soul
When I start gettin’ down and feelin’ low
I thank the Lord that my name is Job — not!

[ ApologetiX – “Rare, Not Well Done” album ]


Good News/Bad News

This is a Gospel presentation and personal testimony of J. Jackson, lead vocalist of ApologetiX from their 20th-anniversary concert. It’s available on “20:20 Vision.”

SONG (audio only): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q21Jnaq-EL8


<<< DEEP THOUGHTS >>>


“What is discouragement? A loss of hope that threatens to isolate and disconnect you from God and others.”
[ Mary Rooney Armand ]

“Personality begins where comparison leaves off. Be unique. Be memorable. Be confident. Be proud.”
[ Shannon L. Alder ]

“Enjoy your own life without comparing it with that of another.”
[ Marquis de Condorcet ]

“The big question about how people behave, is whether they’ve got an inner scorecard or an outer scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an inner scorecard.”
[ Warren Buffett ]

“It is not important to be better than someone else, but to be better than you were yesterday.”
[ Jigoro Kano ]

“There exists, in the human organism, a drive to evaluate his opinions and abilities.”
[ Leon Festinger ]

“Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend.”
[ Lao Tzu ]

“To be content doesn’t mean you don’t desire more, it means you’re thankful for what you have and patient for what’s to come.”
[ Tony Gaskins ]

“At some point… you gotta let go and sit still and allow contentment to come to you.”
[ Elizabeth Gilbert ]

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.”
[ Ann Brashares ]

“Have you ever gone looking for something only to realize you had it with you the whole time?
[ Anonymous ]

“The ‘desire to compare’ is an urge in us that can be as strong as thirst and hunger.”
[ Leon Festinger ]

“Life is peaceful when you rest one the promises of God’s Word.”
[ Author unknown ]

“Be content with your lot; one cannot be first in everything.”
[ Aesop ]

“Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.”
[ Socrates ]

“The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach.”
[ Lin Yut’ang ]

“Contentment makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.”
[ Benjamin Franklin ]

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
[ Teddy Roosevelt ]

“To love is to stop comparing.”
[ Bernard Grasset ]

“Don’t compare yourself to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.”
[ Dawn Abraham ]

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.”
[ Zen Shin ]

“Comparing ourselves to others is in essence saying we are not grateful for who God made us to be and the blessings and gifts He has bestowed on us.”
[ Diane Shirlaw-Ferreira ]

“Raise your ambitions. Lower your expectations.
The higher your ambitions, the bolder your actions.
The lower your expectations, the greater your satisfaction.
Achieve more and be happy along the way.”
[ James Clear ]

“Lord, please help me to find my security in You and Your view of me, not in sizing myself up against others and trying to come out ahead. Give me a humble heart that is focused on pleasing You and help me to remember that apart from Jesus, there is nothing I can do to impress You or anyone else. Instead of comparing myself to others, help me to compare myself only to Jesus and then rely on Your strength to make me more like Him, not anyone else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
[ Cindi McMenamin ]

“The stick I made for measuring
I used most every day.
It helped me to compare myself
with others on my way.
I watched all those behind me,
or further down the road,
and I would readjust my pace
or lighten up my load.
The only real drawback
with how I ran my race
was watching everything around,
except my Savior’s face.”
[ Anne Peterson ]

“Contentment comes in many forms—including hardships… Paul said, ‘I am content with hardships…’ Why do we allow hardship to take away the joy that is provided to us?”
[ Molly Ferrie ]

“There is nothing—no circumstance, no trouble, no testing—that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. I refuse to panic. And as I lift up my eyes to him… no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is—that is the rest of victory!”
[ Alan Redpath ]

“O! for the peace of a perfect trust,
My loving God, in Thee;
Unwavering faith that never doubts
Thou choosiest best for me.

“Best, though my plans be all upset;
Best though my way be rough;
Best, though my earthly store be scant;
In Thee I have enough.

“Best, though my health and strength be gone;
Though weary days be mine;
Shut out from much that others have;
Not my will, Lord, but Thine.

“And e’en though disappointments come,
They, too, are best for me
“To wean me from this changing world
And lead me nearer Thee.

“O! for the peace of a perfect trust,
That looks away from all;
That sees Thy hand in everything,
In great events and small.

“That hears Thy voice — a Father’s voice —
Directing for the best —
O! for the peace of a perfect trust,
A heart with Thee at rest.”
[ Author unknown ]

“Let our thoughts rest upon Him; and He will lift us above ourselves, and above the world, and satisfy our utmost desires.”
[ D.L. Moody ]

“You can’t go around saying all that is true about you, and that you’re part of the eternal invisible Kingdom, and that you belong to God and His beloved children forever, and you are headed for Heaven. You can’t say that and expect anyone to believe it if you just complain all the time. Because what you’re saying is, ‘I believe in God, but I don’t believe God’s got control of the mess we’re in’. Don’t complain over what has happened in the sovereign purpose of God.”
[ John MacArthur ]

“Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your god.”
[ Martin Luther ]

“God authors desires in your heart, then fulfills His Will by enabling you to realize those desires.”
[ Edwin Louis Cole ]

“When we would covet more and more
Of this world’s gold, of earthly store,
Help us, O God, to look above
And draw upon Your matchless love.”
[ Dennis J. De Haan ]

“Contentment is wanting what you have, not having everything you want.”
[ Precept Austin ]

“Contentment isn’t getting what we want but being satisfied with what we have.”
[ Precept Austin ]

“True contentment is not in having everything, but in being satisfied with everything you have.”
[ Precept Austin ]

“Those who are content are never poor; those who are discontent are never rich.”
[ Precept Austin ]

“Contentment comes not from greater wealth but from fewer wants.”
[ Dennis J. De Haan ]

“Lord, help me not to set my heart
On things that pass away;
Make me content with what I have
And help me stay that way.”
[ Sper ]

“O Lord, give me the grace to be
Content with what You give to me.
No, more than that, let me rejoice
In all You send, for it’s Your choice!”
[ Anonymous ]

“A contented spirit is a fruit of divine grace.”
[ George Barlow ]

“Contentment with what we have is absolutely vital to our spiritual health.”
[ Jerry Bridges ]

“To live content with small means; to see elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common – this is my symphony.”
[ William Henry Channing ]

“Remember this—that very little is needed to make a happy life.”
[ Marcus Aurelius ]

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
[ Epictetus ]

“It is the best riches not to desire riches.”
[ Thomas Brooks ]

“If we have not quiet in our minds, outward comfort will do no more for us than a golden slipper on a gouty foot.”
[ John Bunyan ]

“Being ‘contented’ ought to mean in English, as it does in French, being pleased. Being content with an attic ought not to mean being unable to move from it and resigned to living in it: it ought to mean appreciating all there is in such a position.”
[ G. K. Chesterton ]

“True contentment is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it.”
[ G. K. Chesterton ]

“O what a happy soul am I!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be;
How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t!
To weep and sigh because I’m blind,
I cannot, and I won’t.”
[ Fanny Crosby

“I am always content with what happens, for what God chooses is better than what I choose.”
[ Epictetus ]

“Contentment does not depend on what we have; it depends on who we are. It is a spiritual attainment, not something that results from purchasing power. As someone has said, “Contentment is a state of heart rather than a statement of account.”
[ Theodore Epp ]

“Contentment is the direct fruit of having no higher ambition than to belong to the Lord, at His disposal.”
[ Sinclair Ferguson ]

“If we noticed little pleasures,
As we notice little pains—
If we quite forgot our losses
And remembered all our gains.
If we looked for people’s virtues
And their faults refused to see.
What a comfortable, happy, cheerful place
This world would be!”
[ Forbes Magazine of Business ]

“Better a little fire to warm us than a great one to burn us.”
[ Thomas Fuller ]

“Contentment consists not in adding more fuel, but in taking away some fire; not in multiplying wealth, but in subtracting men’s desires.”
[ Thomas Fuller ]

“Be happy with what you have and are, be generous with both, and you won’t have to hunt for happiness.”
[ William E Gladstone ]

“Contentment is realizing that God has already given me everything I need for my present happiness.”
[ Bill Gothard ]

“Contentment is understanding that if I am not satisfied with what I have, I will never be satisfied with what I want.”
[ Bill Gothard ]

“Happy is the person who has learned the secret of being content with whatever life brings him, and has learned to rejoice in the simple and beautiful things around him.”
[ Billy Graham ]

“Some one hundred years ago it was determined that the average American had about 70 wants, things he desired to have. A similar survey was taken of his grandson and he had nearly 500 wants on his list and today, I’m sure that number is even higher. Why? Because people are not content in what they have!”
[ Joe Guglielmo ]

“The holy person is the only contented man in the world.”
[ William Gurnall ]

“He is much happier that is always content, though he has ever so little, than he that is always coveting, though he has ever so much.”
[ Matthew Henry ]

“That condition of life is best for every man which is best for his soul, and keeps him most clear of the cares and snares of the world.”
[ Matthew Henry ]

“Contentment is internal satisfaction which does not demand changes in external circumstances.”
[ Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary ]

“Christ is enough to satisfy the hearts of all who confide in Him and who leave everything in His hands. Such need never be cast down by seeming misfortunes. A Christian asked another how he was getting along. Dolefully his friend replied, ‘Oh, fairly well, under the circumstances.’ ‘I am sorry,’ exclaimed the other, ‘that you are under the circumstances. The Lord would have us living above all circumstances, where He Himself can satisfy our hearts and meet our every need for time and eternity.’”
[ H. A. Ironside ]

“Is your place a small place?
Tend it with care!
He set you there.
Is your place a large place?
Guard it with care!
He set you there.
Whatever your place, it is
Not yours alone, but His,
Who set you there.”
[ John Oxenham ]

“The only person in this world who enjoys complete contentment is the person who knows that the only worthwhile and satisfying life is to be a means, however humble, to God’s chief end his own glory and praise.”
[ J.I. Packer ]

“All the misfortunes of men spring from their not knowing how to live quietly at home in their own rooms.”
[ Blaise Pascal ]

“Contentment does not come naturally but only supernaturally as one learns that this life is no longer me living it, but Christ living in and through me.”
[ Precept Austin ]

“Contentment is an embracing of the providence of God.”
[ George Seevers ]

“Great thoughts and a pure heart, that is what we should ask from God.”
[ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe ]

“God puts desires into your heart. His desires will actually become your desires, and your desires will be His.”
[ Elizabeth George ]

“If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.”
[ Charles H. Spurgeon ]

“Small shoes are apt to pinch, but not if you have a small foot; if we have little means it will be well to have little desires. Poverty is no shame, but being discontented with it is.”
[ Charles H. Spurgeon ]

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that brings happiness.”
[ Charles H. Spurgeon ]

“Even crumbs are bread… A crust is hard fare, but none at all is harder.”
[ Charles H. Spurgeon ]

“A little sprig of the herb called content put into the poorest soup will make it taste as rich as the Lord Mayor’s turtle.”
[ Charles H. Spurgeon ]

“I have heard of some good old woman in a cottage, who had nothing but a piece of bread and a little water, and lifting up her hands, she said, as a blessing, “What! all this, and Christ too?” – Spurgeon

“Remember that a man’s contentment is in his mind, not in the extent of his possessions. Alexander, with all the world at his feet, cries for another world to conquer.”
[ Charles H. Spurgeon ]

“To many men it is given to have all that heart can wish, and yet not to have what their heart does wish. They have everything except contentment.”
[ Charles H. Spurgeon ]

“The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One .”
[ A.W. Tozer ]

“There is no better antidote against coveting that which is another’s than being content with that which is our own.”
[ Thomas Watson ]

“Immoderate care (anxiety) takes the heart off from better things; and usually while we are thinking how we shall live, we forget how to die.”
[ Thomas Watson ]

“Discontent keeps a man from enjoying what he doth possess. A drop or two of vinegar will sour a whole glass of wine.”
[ Thomas Watson ]

VARIOUS “ANONYMOUS” QUOTES:

“All the world lives in two tents—content and discontent.”

“Contentment is an inexhaustible treasure.”

“Contentment is wanting what you have, not having everything you want.”

“The richest person is the one who is contented with what he has.”

“Many Christians find it difficult to be content because we typically focus, not on what we do have, but on what we lack!”

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.”

“When you can think of yesterday without regret and tomorrow without fear, you are near contentment.”

“A Christian is one who does not need to consult his bank balance to see how wealthy he is.”

“A contented person is one who enjoys the scenery along the detour.”

“Let your riches consist, not in the largeness of your possessions, but in the fewness of your wants.”

“It isn’t what we have, but what we enjoy that makes for a rich life, and the wise person understands that contentment is not having everything we want, but enjoying everything we have.”

“Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.”

———————————————————

RELATED SCRIPTURE VERSES:

COMPARISON:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/comparison

COMPLAINING
https://www.openbible.info/topics/complaining

DISSATISFACTION:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/dissatisfaction

DISCOURAGEMENT:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/discouragement

DISAPPOINTMENT:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/disappointment

DISOBEDIENCE:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/disobedience

COVETING:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/coveting

MATERIALISM:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/materialism

PRIDE:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/pride

IDOLATRY:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/idolatry

TEMPTATIONS:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/temptations

DISCONTENTMENT:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/discontentment

SATISFACTION:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/satisfaction

GRATITUDE:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/graditude

ACCEPTANCE:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/acceptance

PROVIDENCE:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/providence

CONTENTMENT:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/contentment


“A quick summary of the Christian “Gospel”:
JESUS’ PROPITIATION made our SINS FORGIVEN and IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS to us so that we have GOD’S ACCEPTANCE into His Heaven and receive ETERNAL LIFE.”
[ Mark Besh ]


Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ’pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing. I would like to give credit where credit is due!


<<< FOCUS VERSES >>>


“Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”
[ Exodus 16:8 ]

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
[ Exodus 20:17 ]

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
[ Joshua 1:6 ]

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
[ Joshua 1:9 ]

“But now it comes upon you, and you are weary; it touches you, and you are troubled.”
[ Job 4:5 ]

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him.”
[ Job 13:15 ]

“Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.”
[ Psalm 8:2 ]

“The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.”
[ Psalm 34:10 ]

“Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.”
[ Psalm 37:4-5 ]

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you”
[ Psalm 42:5–6 ]

“No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
[ Psalm 84:11 ]

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
[ Proverbs 3:5-6 ]

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
[ Proverbs 16:18 ]

“Never satisfied are the eyes of man.”
[ Proverbs 27:20b ]

“Then I considered all my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, always vanity and us driving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
[ Ecclesiastes 2:11 ]

“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.”
[ Ecclesiastes 4:4 ]

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
[ Isaiah 40:31 ]

“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’? Woe to the one who says to a father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to a mother, ‘What have you brought to birth?’”
[ Isaiah 45:9-10 ].

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
[ Habakkuk 3:17-18 ]

“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
[ Matthew 5:15 ]

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
[ Matthew 11:28-30 ]

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
[ Matthew 13:44 ]

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
[ Mark 10:27 ]

“If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”
[ Luke 9:23 ]

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on… [For] your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
[ Luke 12:22, 30b-31 ]

“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
[ Luke 17:10 ]

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”
[ John 14:1a ]

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
[ John 16:33 ]

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
[ Romans 8:18 ]

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
[ Romans 8:28 ]

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
[ Romans 8:31-32 ]

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
[ Romans 8:35, 37 ]

“Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”
[ Romans 15:4 ]

Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”
[ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ]

“to put off your old self, which belongs to your form or manner of life and his corrupt through deceitful desires,”
[ Ephesians 4:22 ]

“Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
[ Ephesians 6:16 ]

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”
[ Philippians 3:7-8 ]

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
[ Philippians 3:14 ]

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
[ Philippians 4:10-13 ]

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
[ Philippians 4:19 ]

“Put to death what is earthly in you; fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. It’s idolatry because the contentment that the heart should be getting from God, it starts to get from something else.”
[ Colossians 3:5 ]

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.”
[ 1 Timothy 6:6-8 ]

“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
[ 1 Timothy 6:9-10 ]

“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.”
[ 1 Timothy 6:11 ]

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called. Keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing.”
[ 1 Timothy 6:12, 14 ]

“Command those who are rich not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God.”
[ 1 Timothy 6:17 ]

“Let them do good, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
[ 1 Timothy 6:18-19 ]

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’”
[ Hebrews 13:5 ]

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
[ Hebrews 11:6 ]

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.”
[ James 4:7 ]

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.”
[ 1 Peter 1:3-4 ]

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
[ 1 Peter 2:9 ]

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
[ 1 John 1:9 ]

“For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
[ 1 John 2:16 ]

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
[ 1 John 5:20-21 ]

“no more death or mourning or crying or pain.”
[ Revelation 21:4b ]


If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

Disclaimer: All the above jokes and inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

Mark

·.¸¸.·´¯`·.. ><((((‘>
><((((‘> ·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·..><((((‘> ·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.. ><((((‘>
·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·..><((((‘>
><((((‘> ·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸¸.><((((‘>