“Our house is so small. If only we could move to a bigger one, then life would be better. I wish my car had a GPS, seat warmers and a DVD player for the kids. If I could find a way to make more money…” We always want more, don’t we? The Bible tells us that we should be satisfied with what we have. Unfortunately, contentment can be so elusive!
Always Wanting More
What’s the root of the problem? Why do we strive for more? Why do we long for that cell phone or those shoes or that car? We may not want to admit it, but somehow we think those things will make us happy. If I only had a bigger house, I’d be happy. If I only had nicer clothes or newer gadgets or more money or a nicer car, then I would be happy. How about food? That piece of chocolate cake or those dark chocolate M&Ms (my personal weakness) – those would really make me happy! If my husband was more understanding or more romantic or… It never works. The more we look longingly at what we don’t have, the less happy we are. We will always want something else and it will never satisfy us.
What Did Solomon Discover?
King Solomon discovered this experientially more than anyone who has ever lived. Ecclesiastes is a wonderful book of the Bible that is seldom discussed. Chapter 2, verses 1-11 talk about how Solomon set out to find happiness and purpose in life. He tried wine (vs. 3), he built houses, gardens and parks (vss. 4-6), and acquired wealth, singers and slaves (vs. 8). He also had all the women he could ever want (vs. 8). Verse 10 says, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.” Can you imagine getting everything you’ve ever wanted? I would have a new car, lots of high tech gadgets, a big house set off in the woods (complete with maid service and a great wifi connection), an in-house coffee barista, unlimited spending money and lots of chocolate. Would it make me happy? Solomon got everything he ever wanted. Did it work?
The very next verse says, “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” His happiness didn’t seem to last very long. If we think a new flat screen TV will make us happy, we should look at Solomon and think again. He had everything he wanted and it still didn’t satisfy him for long.
Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 says, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?” Trying to make ourselves happy by getting more stuff is like eating junk food. It tastes good for a little while, but then it leaves you fat, crabby, and wanting more. God alone is the “bread of life” that truly satisfies and the “living water” that will never leave us thirsty. We can only find true happiness and purpose in life through our relationship with Jesus Christ.
So what’s the solution? Be happy with what you have and find joy in following God. “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him – for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.” Ecclesiastes 5:18-20
What does that look like? Here are some suggestions:
- Be thankful for what you have. Perhaps a perspective change is in order. Spending some time visiting the poor or taking a missions trip to the slums of Mexico or India will definitely adjust your view of what you have.
- Find satisfaction in what you do every day. Brother Lawrence learned to worship God even while washing dishes. Invite God to walk with you throughout your day and add significance to your everyday, mundane tasks. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
- Look for ways to find renewed joy in what you already have. Try painting a room, rearranging the furniture or detailing the inside of your car. Sometimes a fresh look will help you appreciate it more.
There’s nothing wrong with a new car or a nice house or some chocolate every once in a while. God provides good things for us to enjoy. The problem is when we begin to look to those things to bring us happiness instead of looking to God. The Bible calls that idolatry. It’s dangerous ground to tread on.
Pray that God will give you His joy and happiness. According to 1 Timothy 6:6, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Seeking anything more than satisfaction through Him will leave you dry and empty, like chasing after the wind.
What do you find yourself chasing after that never seems to satisfy?