I know I can have enough yet still feel the need to convince myself to have more. As long as I believe I need more, I will never be content. The dictionary defines contentment as the state of being satisfied with what you have. Being satisfied with what you have is so much better than the alternative … not being satisfied with what you have. Not being satisfied can lead to crazy amounts of debt. Not being satisfied can lead to an unhealthy life style. Not being satisfied can lead to affairs. Not being satisfied can lead to feeling entitled. Not being satisfied can lead to addictions. Not being satisfied can lead to greed. Not being satisfied can lead to stealing. Not being satisfied can lead to putting work first and family last. Not being satisfied can lead to a demanding attitude. Not being satisfied can lead to a lack of patience and an increase in arrogance. Not being satisfied can lead to me putting my wants at the center of the Universe. Not being satisfied blinds me to what I have and causes me to see only what I don’t have. Not being satisfied quickly turns you into my competitor because I compare what you have with what I do not have. Not being satisfied makes everything about me and my wants.
So, do you see what’s at stake here? “You simply cannot be in the center of your world and be your own highest authority and not be a moral danger to yourself (and others), because when you are at the center you will not say no to you.” (Tripp) This is why a lack of contentment can create colossal problems. And, this is the tension that we all feel because as long as we’re human, we will struggle with this to one degree or another because it’s human nature to be selfish and convince ourselves we need more. It doesn’t take any work on my part to be selfish. I am so much better at it than I would ever care to be.
The devotion of my heart will always drift toward what I believe will provide everything. To discover what I believe will provide everything, I simply have to finish this one sentence: “If only I had ___________, then I’d be content.” “If only I had more money, then I’d be content. If only I had a better job, I’d be content. If only I was more disciplined, I’d be content. If only I were healthy, I’d be content. If only I had a better marriage, I’d be content. If only my children acted how I want them too, I’d be content. If only I had more followers, I’d be content. If only I didn’t have this stress in my life, I’d be content. If only I had the acceptance I desire, I’d be content. If only I had their abilities, I’d be content. If only I didn’t have this relationship in my life, I’d be content.” If only, if only, if only … The list of “if only’s” is endless and as long as we believe that our “if only” will provide everything we need, we’ll never believe that God will provide everything we need and we’ll never fully experience what only He can offer.
Whatever my “if only” is will never do anything to address contentment because contentment is an issue of my heart. Until my heart is transformed, my wants never will be. And, this is why I am so desperate for the grace of God in my life. God offers something even greater than your “if only” life. He offers grace. Grace is not circumstance dependent. Grace is not conditional. Grace is not received through a checklist. Grace is not received by working harder. Grace is not received by trying to climb higher. Grace is not received through discipline. Grace is not the result of my strength but rather offered because of my weakness. Grace is not the result of an act of my will but rather offered because of something I could never do. Grace is a Person and His name is Jesus. When I give Him access to my heart, transformation results. My “if only” life will never transform my heart, it will only reveal what is in it … a constant hunger for something more … a longing for comfort … a need to prove myself worthy … a constant desire to “perform” … a plea for acceptance … a demand for others to act how I want them to act or give me what I feel I deserve. My “if only” will pretend to be an everything. But, my “if only” was never meant to carry the weight of life. It will always cave under that pressure and I will be left unsatisfied, longing for something more.
A heart that is content is free from the angst of want and free from the demand to perform. A heart that is content is a heart at peace. It is a heart overwhelmed by Jesus and His grace. I can find contentment when I trust that His grace will always intersect my need. And, truth be known, I am incredibly needy … which is exactly why I NEED Jesus. My needs are endless and His mercies are new every morning. It’s a match made in heaven … literally! The more I recognize this, the more I’m able to experience the words of the Apostle Paul: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12 – 13) The secret to contentment is Jesus … and this is one secret we do not need to keep to ourselves.