Fill in the blanks in this old commercial jingle: “I wish I were __ _____ ______ _____. That is what I’d truly like to be; For if I were __ _____ ______ _____, Everyone would fall in love with me.”
This is not just a catchy tune. (My apologies for getting it stuck in your head.) It’s also a pretty accurate description of our mentality. Not that we want to be hotdogs, but that we’re always trying to fill in the blank with whatever we think will make us happy, successful, and loved. If I were just prettier, smarter, richer, married, divorced, taller, tanner, a parent, an empty-nester, a homeowner, employed, retired… The list goes on and on. We think that the next thing will finally satisfy our needs. As the old saying goes, “How much money is enough? Just a little more.”
There are several attitudes and beliefs that both feed into this mentality and grow out of it.
Discontentment – What I have is not enough. I feel I deserve something more or better.
Envy – My neighbor has a better house, job, family, etc. I wish I could have that.
Lack of thankfulness – How can I be thankful when I don’t have everything I want or need?
Lack of trust – God hasn’t satisfied my desires, so He must not love me. People have failed to provide for me. I have to take care of myself.
Lack of love – I don’t feel loved, therefore I must not be loved, therefore I don’t need to love people who don’t love me.
Obviously Scripture has a lot to say about where our hopes and dreams should be placed and what our expectations should be:
Paul says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” And what is that secret? “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:12-13). Contentment lies in knowing the One who loves us, cares for us, and provides for us all that we really need—eternal life with Him.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3). We may not literally be guilty of quarreling and murder, but that envious attitude can sure kill a relationship.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Don’t just give thanks when all is right with the world, but in all circumstances.
“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 do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:4-6). If God’s desires are ours, we can be sure that they will be fulfilled. But if our focus is anywhere else, we’ll be frustrated when things don’t go our way.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Our love doesn’t depend on feelings or on the people around us, but on God alone. He has shown us the ultimate love, and so we are to love others regardless of how we feel in the moment.
You’d think that Christians ought to be the most joyful and content people on earth, but much of the time we don’t seem to be any different than the non-Christians around us. We’re all working to get a little more money, a little more knowledge, a little more recognition, etc. One day we will wake up and see that all our discontentment has been a waste of time and energy, though for some of us that moment won’t come in this lifetime.