There’s an image that I suspect you’ve seen.
A man is seated on a donkey. His hands are fully extended holding a stick in front of the donkey. From the stick hangs a carrot on a string. The donkey marches onward hoping to finally taste the sweet carrot. Yet, no matter how far or how fast the donkey walks, the carrot always remains the same distance away from the donkey.
I used to feel sad for the donkey. Now, I feel sad for us.
Because so many times we are the donkey. We go forward believing that once we get that one last thing we’ll finally have enough.
“If Only I Had …” is the Greatest Lie of Our Generation
We Live Like Kings and Act Like Paupers
I suspect most ancient kings would trade places with the average middle class American. We have more gadgets, knickknacks, and comforts than most kings of history. Sure, they may have had maidens who would fan them to keep them cool, but we have air conditioners. They may have had the most talented entertainers in the land, but they didn’t have streaming movies, smartphones, and the Internet.
Compared to many – historically and in our own time – we have so much.
Yet, we’re often longing for more.
Usually our list of items we wish to buy is greater than our income. Typically, people decide to borrow money to buy today what they can’t afford – all in hopes that tomorrow they’ll have enough.
Why do we chase after all these things, assuming that if we got that loan paid off everything would be perfect? If we got that raise, everything would be great? If we got that new car, all would be well? While it’s possible we might be better off, we surely won’t be fulfilled by these achievements.
“If Only I Had …” Symptoms
- A general lack of satisfaction with what one currently has
- A future longing for something to fill or complete them
- A constant desire to do one more thing in order to achieve ultimate happiness
- A wish list that is always replenished once items are purchased
What the Bible Teaches Instead
The Bible teaches that we should be content with what we have:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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 any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – Philippians 4:11–12 NIV
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. – 1 Timothy 6:8 NIV
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5 NIV
The Contentment Prescription
Contentment in Christ
We shouldn’t look for external items to bring us satisfaction. We should seek that only from Christ. We must have a willingness to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. We need to understand that God has given us what he knows we need. We need to recognize that we already have so much and learn how to be content.
We can either focus on what we do have or what we do not. Those who are always seeking something more focus on what’s missing. The truly blessed are those who recognize what they have and give praise and glory to God for all those things.
With Christ, there is no need to create an “if only I had …” list because we already have more than we could ever ask or imagine. What are you thankful for? Leave a comment!