The grass is always greener on the other side right? As the old saying goes that is what far too often many think when they become stricken with envy and discontentment. However, no matter what abundance anyone is able to obtain if the goal is to find satisfaction in material possessions then one will never truly be satisfied. After all, no matter what one has, the grass will remain greener still; on the other side.
A man became envious of his friends because they had larger and more luxurious homes. So he listed his house with a real estate firm, planning to sell it and to purchase a more impressive home.
Shortly after listing his home, as he was reading through the listings of available homes for sale, he saw one ad for a house that seemed to be perfect! In fact, it just seemed too good to be true!
He promptly called his realtor and said, "A house I found listed is exactly what I am looking for! I want to go see it as soon as possible!" The agent asked him several questions about the listing and then replied, "But sir, the house you are describing is YOUR house!"
Contentment is defined as a state of satisfaction. Contentment a lot of time has to do with perspective. Discontentment is defined as a restless desire or craving for something one does not have. Discontentment breeds envy. The man in the story who wanted to sell his house was discontent and envious.
Envy is the tendency to compare yourself with someone else in a way that leaves you feeling deprived. What starts as a thought can grow into a full fledged obsession.
It is very easy to get caught up in comparisons and wishing we had something someone else has. Even we as Christians do it to each other. Example: "I wish I had a Sunday School class like so and so," or rather, "I wish my ministry was as successful as a certain persons."
In Psalm 73 we are going to see in Asaph who wrote the Psalm; a journey from discontentment to full biblical satisfaction.
Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped. (Psalm 73:1-2 NKJV)
God is good says Asaph! Many times we accuse God of not being good and it is largely based on our level of comfort or based on what we have or don't have. We become envious of our friends just like the man who wanted to sell his house. Being discontent will cause you to make some really irrational decisions.
But is God good because of what He can do for us or is He good because of who He is?
Asaph says God is good but he was the one who came close to stumbling. He was the one who almost slipped. Not God! Asaph is in trouble. He is saying, "I nearly lost my grip on what I believe. I am tripping over something that just doesn't make sense. It isn't fair!"
Asaph is ready to walk away. He is on the edge of throwing in the towel. He let sin in the door and now it has colored everything he sees!
For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men. Therefore, pride serves as their necklace; violence covers them like a garment. Their eyes bulge with abundance; they have more than heart could wish. They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walks through the earth. (Psalm 73:3-9 NKJV)
Asaph was envious and jealous of the world, and of the ungodly. From his perspective he thought everyone was doing just fine but him. He looked around him and thought that the ungodly and the wicked were getting along just fine and he began to want what they seemed to have; satisfaction and peace. However, Asaph would come to learn that material things and status do not determine whether one has satisfaction and peace.
Asaph saw the wicked as not being in trouble or plagued like he was. He saw them as wearing pride like a necklace due to their status and possessions. From Asaph's vantage point it seemed that not only were the ungodly prospering, but you could not go anywhere and not hear of it. It was constantly before him.
Asaph had convinced himself that God didn't care because everybody but Asaph was living on easy street. He had come to the conclusion that God simply must not have a plan for him after all.
Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches. Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning. (Psalm 73:12-14 NKJV)
Why even try anymore? Asaph had determined that attempting to live a godly life was useless because he wasn't getting the outcome he desired. Contentment isn't about getting a desired outcome.
I can relate to Asaph.....
I spent a large portion of my life discontent. Like Asaph, I compared myself to everyone else. I wanted what others had, I was not satisfied with my life, and it seemed like everywhere I turned someone had something better than me. A better job, a better status, or more money than me. I was constantly envious and jealous of not just the world but of fellow Christians. What started as a sinful thought turned into a full fledged obsession.
God was no longer good in my life simply because of who He was but He would only be good based on what He could do for me. It wasn't just that I was unhappy because of all the things I wanted but did not have, but I actually came to a point where I would not allow myself to be happy until I had achieved that which I had decided that I deserved and should have.
My feet just like Asaph's came close to stumbling, and my steps almost slipped.
Discontentment will affect every aspect of your life as it did mine. It put me through many periods of depression, it made me very irritable, and caused me to lose my joy. Discontentment comes to define you. It becomes all you know.
So when Asaph states in versus 12-14 of Psalm 73 that he feels like the godly life was in vain and useless because it did not produce the outcome he desired; I know what he means, I know how he feels.
Can you identify with myself or Asaph?
When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. (Psalm 73:16-17 NKJV)
When Asaph hit rock bottom he pondered his life and attempted to figure out what was the source of his trouble. How did it all turn around for Asaph? How did it all turn around for me? How can it turn around for you?
It all turned around when Asaph came into the presence of God! When he humbled himself and ultimately repented of his sin and turned to God.
Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; you hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. (Psalm 73:21-25 NKJV)
Asaph poured out his heart before God. He told God all that troubled him and how he was bitter and pierced to the core! Then he lays himself bare before God and repents and commits himself once again to the God who created him.
"I am continually with You; you hold me by my right hand," states Asaph.
In the darkest of days, when God seems to be the farthest away from us, when we cry out to Him we find out that HE WAS RIGHT THERE THE WHOLE TIME WAITING TO TAKE OUR HAND AND GUIDE US!
We find that the answer to our contentment and our satisfaction lies in desiring nothing but the presence of God!
My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry. But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works. (Psalm 73:26-28 NKJV)
God is the strength of our heart! Those who are ungodly will ultimately perish. They put their trust in their riches and in their things, but Asaph cries out, "As for me being near to God is my good! God is my refuge!"
Surely God is Good!
Money may run out, but God is good!
You may not get the job you want, but God is good!
Friends may desert you, but God is good!
Enemies may seem to surround you, but God is good!
Everybody may seem to be prospering around you, but God is good!
It may feel like your prayers are going unanswered, but God is good!
Things may not have turned out like you wanted them to, but God is good!
God is good not because of what He can do for us or whether our circumstances are exactly what we think they should be, but God is good because of who He is! God has not promised to give us the most money, or the biggest house, or the best job, but He has promised to give us Himself! We can be fully satisfied in Him.
He is our Creator, He is our Savior, He is our God! If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation you will spend eternity with God when all of the pain and sorrow of this world will no longer exist for God will wipe away every tear and make all things right. Until that day, we must live with joy and full contentment and satisfaction in knowing and being in the presence of God.
True Biblical Contentment is not learning to be satisfied with the material things you have, or the power or position you have, but learning that true contentment is being fully satisfied with God alone.