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 6:7-8
Many theologians argue over what the first sin was committed in God’s universe. Was it Eve eating the fruit or Adam standing there not stopping her? Or was it Satan, formally Lucifer being filled up with pride and losing his high position as the angel most likely in charge of worship? While we do not really know all of the timing issues, and there are excellent arguments on all sides, I would like to explore another possibility.
Discontentment has to rank up there pretty high on the early sins in the universe. Lucifer was not content with his place and wanted Gods, and Adam and Eve wanted more knowledge than God had allowed them to have, thus they ignored God’s commandment.
At the root of most sinful choices is discontentment. Greed – I am not content with what I have so I must have more. Lust – I am not satisfied with my spouse, singleness, or how my needs are being met so I must have more. Envy, anger, being absorbed with self, disobedience, and just about any sin can be tied directly or indirectly to discontentment.
Think about those children of Israel wandering around in the desert…what was at the root of their problems – complaining about God’s miraculous provision. The Scripture says that their shoes did not wear and neither did their clothes. (Deuteronomy 8:4) This multitude awoke each day and had angel food cake…ok, manna, but it was still food from heaven. Here is one scary verse:
And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Numbers 21:5
“Loathe this worthless food???” Miracles were witnessed every day. Supernatural food and water were received and the visible presence of God in either a cloud or pillar of fire, yet discontentment reigned. How easy it is to slip into complaining instead of being thankful and what a dramatic difference it makes when we do so.
I understand that there are complicated issues associated with many marriage problems for example, but once we begin to entertain discontentment, they are greatly compounded. If we begin to think about our lot in life from a non-Biblical viewpoint, we will quickly begin to be dissatisfied. Once we move from thankfulness to complaining we are heading down the wrong path and destruction is on its way.
Statements like, “Why can’t you be like…” or “I wish I had done…” or “If only I had…” typically end up on the wrong side of contentment. Comparing our spouse to an illusion in the media or to someone else’s spouse will lead to not fully appreciating the gift God gave us. If we are married, we took vows and promised to love the other person until death. Given the rampant divorce rate among born again Christians, something is amiss. What usually happens is we do not take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ and we begin to enter into discontentment. Once we walk down this path the only way back is to quit complaining and begin to give thanks to our God. Sure, things will still be messy, but complaining never helps anything and giving thanks to God always does.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain,” Paul stated. What is discontentment then except the doorway to great loss and further ungodliness? Paul furthered stated that there is a secret that each of us must learn –
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 4:11-13
Giving thanks instead of complaining is a choice. Being content is a learned behavior that is based on our view of God, His sovereignty, and the Scripture. What comes out of our mouth is always birthed in our brain and what is in our brain needs to be filtered through the Word of God. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! We can even put away complaining and start begin thankful. Today, right now, immediately, quickly…
I have not settled the debate as to the first sin in the God’s creation, but I know what is typically behind my sins, discontentment. How about yours?