Comparison, Contentment, and Compassion: What to Consider When Enough Is Not Enough
2 Corinthians 12:10 b
…for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Living the Christian life was easy during childhood, at least it was for me. Yes, as children we all pitched our little fits and disobeyed our parents at times, and that may have been the extent of the display of our sinful hearts. As a child, I went to Sunday school and sang the little songs, and my heart’s desire was to truly please Jesus in the best way my little mind knew.
Fast forward many years, and I now realize living the Christian life on a daily basis is not for the faint at heart. It is for those who realize they are weak and recognize the need to draw from Strength far greater than themselves.
This calendar year has been a stretch for me in many ways. I started the year with a health problem and have continued to deal with little things here and there throughout the year. This has been a strain for me in many areas…physically, mentally, spiritually, financially, etc. I look around and see people who are in situations far more difficult than myself, and I am thankful for the many blessings the good Lord has given me…too numerous to count!
Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
But then… there are those other times… I look around at those who seem problem-less, and I fall into the dangerous trap of comparison. It is so easy to compare ourselves to others. We compare our clothes, cars, homes, kids’ behavior, spirituality, health, abilities, and even the food we eat and the number of people in our families! Exhaustive list! If you venture out into public or ever search the Internet, it is super easy to begin the comparison game, and you may not even realize you are playing it! When I begin comparing myself or my circumstances to those around me, it’s easy to feel discontent.
Discontentment is not the life the Lord wants for us!!! Most of the time, the things that cause discontentment are actually trivial and insignificant. In the moment of self-pity, the reason for discontentment may seem huge and insurmountable, but when we view things in the Light of God’s Word, things become more manageable. I had a situation just the other day where I was in a huge slump over some very legitimate needs and situations in my life. However, I unfortunately chose to handle the situation in an incorrect way. I began to feel sorry for myself and cry and complain on the inside (and outside!) until all the ugliness in my heart was truly revealed. While that may have temporarily made me feel better, it didn’t solve the problems or fix anything. This is where the rubber meets the road in the Christian life. This is the hard stuff that none of us wants to deal with…the stuff we didn’t know about as a Christian child.
This past Sunday, my dad preached a sermon entitled, “What to Consider When Enough Is Not Enough” from Haggai 1:1-11. This sermon was perfect timing for some of the situations I am currently facing in my life. Verse six states…
Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.
This verse sums up the definition of discontentment, and the Lord says to consider your ways. The following points are not my own. I stole them from the sermon, but they are so relevant, and I hope they will minister to your heart as they did mine.
Is there something in my spiritual life that I am neglecting?
Am I doing what God wants me to do?
Am I where God wants me to be?
Have I become cold and insensitive to God and His Word?
Is my relationship with God what He wants it to be? How is my relationship with others?
Is God punishing me for sin and disobedience?
Is God testing my faith?
Have I lost focus on what is important?
The answer to discontentment is found in one of these points. We have to search our hearts and be honest with ourselves to know the true reasons for our discontentment. Sometimes, it’s just a test of our faith or a lost focus on what is truly important, but God can help us no matter the situation. Only God can move a mountain or calm a sea.
I have not arrived in the areas of comparison and contentment. These are areas of struggle and places where the Lord is still working on me. As the Sunday school song says, He’s still working on me to make me what I ought to be! We can choose joy and peace, but it is our choice despite all of the if only’s and what if’s.
Hebrews 12:3 says, For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
When things are tough and overwhelming, we must look to Jesus and His example and never give up. Despite our sinful hearts and failures, He is there to assist and guide if we only ask! That’s the part I forget sometimes!
Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
I Samuel 12:24
Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.
I Thessalonians 4:18
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
It is when we choose to compare ourselves to God and His Word that we have true contentment, joy, and peace. These character traits open the door for us to minister and have compassion on others and their needs. Comparison and discontentment are self-focused traits, and compassion is others focused.