The Danger of Discontent

To be honest, he was a bit nervous. It was the first time he would slither up to a complete stranger and try to throw her off her game. He had never spoken to a human before and as he got closer he rehearsed his opening lines. Moments later, he was elated! It only took three sentences to derail her life, overturn her husband’s life – and truth be told, ruin the entire human race. 

How did the serpent in the garden so quickly turn Eve against God? Why would Eve so swiftly disobey God? Easy. He made her feel discontent with her lot in life. There was only one thing God withheld from Adam and Eve. One thing they were not to do–eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That’s it. Only one thing. The entire harvest of the Garden of Eden was theirs to enjoy, except the fruit of that one tree. Every aisle in the grocery store, every item in the refrigerated section, every fruit and vegetable in the produce bins, all the baked goods were available to them. There was just one prohibition. Don’t eat the fruitcake, for in the day they ate of it, they would die. That’s it. Just one prohibition. And this is where Satan slandered God to Eve. (The enemy assaults us at the point of prohibition, not at the points of permission.)

Satan told Eve God was holding out on her. He said if she ate the fruit she would become like God, knowing good from evil. “God is holding out on you, Eve. He is keeping you from something that will be so good for you. He doesn’t want you to partake of it because if you do, you won’t need Him anymore – you’ll be like Him. God doesn’t want you to taste that sweet liberty.” Satan intimated God is not a good God, but a petty, stingy God holding her down from what rightfully belonged to her. “This is your right! You deserve this! Rise up and throw off His bondage!”

This lie created discontent within Eve’s heart. “God is holding out on me,” she thought. Satan created FOMO within her heart – Fear of Missing Out. Anxiety and resentment consumed her. The seed of his lie sowed discontent which gave birth to fear which shriveled into unbelief and then expressed itself in disobedience which resulted in death. “Not bad for a morning’s work,” the serpent said to himself as he slunk away. 

This tool of Satan, though used for thousands of years on billions of people, has never lost its sharp edge. It hasn’t grown dull with time and usage. Don’t look down on Eve and think of her as a weak woman, an easy mark. It took him three sentences to bring down Eve – for many of us, it only takes him one sentence to create the discontent that leads to resentment, fear, unbelief, and disobedience. Satan knows how to slither up to you and poison you with one sentence.

The pastor down the street has a bigger church than you.
She’s prettier than you.
He’s smarter than you.
Why can’t your husband be as attentive to you as that husband is to his wife?
Why can’t your wife be as respectful toward you as that wife is to her husband?
Why is God keeping you from that promotion?
Why did God allow that debt, death, divorce, depression, etc.?

Blah. Blah. Blah. 

It is not just the comparison that creates the discontent, it is the notion God could have directed my life down a different path which would have resulted in a different outcome. Why didn’t He? It is not just the comparison with someone else, it is the notion God is holding out on me. When this is coupled with a sense of entitlement, that I deserve better, you have a recipe for a poisonous discontent that will infect any heart.

I will turn 70 next month. Whenever I think of that, I reflect upon my life and the path I’ve trod. I thought by this time I would pastor a church of thousands. I thought was not borne of pride and ego so much as an expectation driven by a theology that said, “That’s just what the Lord does.” I have had to adjust my theology. I pastor a church of about 250, including children. (We count kids because kids count!)  In previous decades I was discontent with the size of the church I pastored. My soul was often agitated. Today, I can say, “My heritage is sweet to me. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.” I pastor an awesome church of beautiful people.

I am going to disagree with C.S. Lewis, Augustine, Aquinas, and the major theologians of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant traditions. I do not think the original sin was pride. I believe it was a discontent that expressed itself in unbelief that resulted in disobedience. It wasn’t a swelling pride that drove Eve, it wasn’t because she had an excessively high opinion of herself. It was because she thought so little of God. It was a poisonous discontent. She said, “I want what God has forbidden me. God is holding out on me.” Her discontent drove her to consume that which resulted in greater discontent.

Contentment isn’t the result of passively accepting whatever comes into your life. Contentment is the fruit of actively surrendering to God in the hustle and bustle, in the twists and turns, in the brokenness and disappointments of life. Contentment comes as you trust in the Lord with all your heart, not leaning on your own understanding, acknowledging Him in all your ways, and believing He is making your paths straight. The devil seeks to breed discontent in your heart. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. 

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22 thoughts on “The Danger of Discontent”

  1. This is just like our Lord!! Last night our home group studied James 5: 1-6, the condemnation of “love for money and riches” and how it’s rooted in discontentment. And we awoke to find this word along with Alistair’s Daily “Spurgeon-based” Word on contentment, and both blogs pertain exactly on point with our topic of the James study. Thank you for starting “The Post”. Praise Adonai.

  2. Tim, this is a great word. Discontentment is a big trap. I have been encouraged many times by Paul’s words in Philippians 4:11 – that he learned in whatever state he was, to be content. What encourages me about that was that contentment was something that Paul had to learn, and could learn. Praying I can cultivate that fruit of contentment better and better.

  3. Dear Tim Brown, did you go to Walnut High School and graduate in 1971? If so, I’m Tim McGirr we were friends and now I know we’re brothers in Christ. Even if we don’t know each other you are a blessing. Sincerely, Timothy

    1. Hi, Tim – that’s me! Walnut High – class of ’71. Yes, I remember you! It’s great to know that you are in Christ. I’m pastoring Calvary Chapel Fremont (San Francisco Bay Area). I hope all is well with you.

      1. Pastor Tim,
        First, I love how God connects people, ( your friend from 71)
        First, I receive your message that discontentment is such a fleshly, sensual, demonic world view…and is killer for any believer, and he/she must address it, actually recognize it…Bible Study, small groups, prayer partners, accountability etc. are excellent ways to combat this…
        With that thought, I know you disagree with some men whom you gave as examples…that the original sin is pride…
        Simply, if it is pride, or discontent, on Eve’s part… doesn’t matter…God already knew, and when they both confessed their sins, they were forgiven, animal skins that God provided, his covering until the Messiah Jesus came to wash all theirs and ours sins away…,
        Thank you for your post

  4. Thanks! This is very encouraging, especially as I have been feeling discouraged because of current circumstances and things that didn’t go as expected.

    A question: I have heard about the discontent to disbelief to disobedience before and I totally agree, but I thought of it a different way than you. Let me know what you think about this: The discontent was born out of a Prideful Doubt believing one has a better direction than what God has provided. The Doubt is present, but Doubt in and of itself can spur faith to grow (James 1). The Prideful Doubt ignited in Eve the desire to seize her own life, believing her intentions were better than God’s. Let me know! I haven’t been able to talk to others about this yet, so I am curious what they think.

    1. Hi, Travis – to a point, I have no problem with what you’re presenting. Did Eve doubt the Word of the Lord? No doubt. Yet, Eve’s doubt illustrates that doubt is no friend of faith – even in James 1. Doubt doesn’t spur faith; doubt quenches faith. Doubt is never presented as a friend of faith in the Bible. I know it’s popular to say today that doubt and faith can coexist – and in one sense I get that – but they can’t coexist for long. One will be the death of the other. I don’t know of one place in Scripture where doubt is considered a virtue. Doubt denies what faith affirms and faith denies what doubt affirms. I see them as logical opposites. What do you think?

      1. Amen. Thanks for the feedback! I totally agree and I love how you phrased it. Faith and Doubt can only coexist for so long before one kills the other; it is such a profound and wise way of saying it. I believe what I was seeking to say is that Doubt, when brought to the throne of Grace, rather than being tossed to and fro by waves, finds its answer in his Truth and in that Truth, Doubt dies and Faith grows. We have to bring our Doubts to God, otherwise we will go elsewhere to find the answers, but those answers are not answers at all but rather a poison that destroys our faith.

  5. Hi, David – yes. And Paul learned to be content in whatever circumstances he was in. He didn’t draw contentment from his circumstances, but in his circumstances. I’ve had to learn/am learning that contentment doesn’t have a circumstantial foundation, but an eternal one. Satan’s temptations always exploit the gap between existing and imagined circumstances.

    1. Hi Tim,
      Thank you for your encouraging response and for being transparent.
      This life in Jesus is the battle of which “man” get fed the most.
      Being discontent is forgetting the benefits of being called “ child of God”
      Praying for you as you minister to your congregation,
      God Bless

  6. Evelyn L. Quitain

    Thank you very much. Few hours ago, I felt so used and taken for granted. Thank you very much for such an enlightening thoughts on discontentment. Praise the living God for not allowing me to succumb to such evil thoughts. Praise God for He uses people like you as a channel of encouragenent and enlightenment just at the right time😊

  7. I love this explanation of original sin. I think both are true, pride and discontentment as the original sins, because it does take pride to think God is holding back and that you can be as God.
    To GOD be the glory, forever and ever, amen 🥰!!!

  8. Hi Tim,
    Satan has used the same “one-liner” on me for decades—circling my discontent, causing me to question God. Your article is a milestone answered prayer; a key unlocking a deeper level of my understanding.

    I am grateful for your study and insight of God’s word. He has used you for a greater reach beyond the doors of your church. Keep up the good work and please, count me as one of your flock!

  9. Patricia M Richardson

    Thanks for the insight on discontentment everything you said makes so much sense in a great help to me thank you!! God bless keep doing God’s great work I say I have a short memory so now I know where that comes from another way sitting once a hold me back I will no longer speak that I am learning how words that say input in our spirit can’t grow like you said just the way he did Eve in a garden with discontentment thank God I can understand you’re teaching I love learning how to be a better Christian, woman of God a better human being as a woman I would say eve did us in but reading your article discontentment is the poison from Satan we have to deny Satan so he can flee and always obey God

  10. Thank you for writing this post. I learned a lot and feel like I should share this with some folks I know, too. God bless you!

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