Sometime ago there appeared in a newspaper a cartoon showing two fields divided by a fence. Both fields were about the same size and each had plenty of the same kind of grass, green and lush.
In each field there was a mule, and each mule had his head through the fence eating grass from the other mule's pasture. All around each mule in his own field was plenty of grass, yet the grass in the other field seemed greener or fresher, although it was harder to get.
And in the process the mules were caught in the wires and were unable to free themselves. The cartoonist put just one word at the bottom of the picture-“DISCONTENTMENT”
The grass is always greener in someone else’s field. That’s the way it seems, isn’t? Someone else always seems to have what we don’t? Someone else’s job always looks easier and more rewarding. Someone else’s family looks problem free and so ideal doesn’t it? Someone else’s marriage always seems to be heaven on earth compared to others? Someone else’s Christian life seems to be more joyful and serene doesn’t it?
But whether these observations are honest or not, they point to a deeper problem than just what you see on the surface; they point to a discontented heart and spirit. If you have been taking notes, you will remember we talked about discouragement last Wednesday night. We talked about how that the devil uses discouragement to gain the advantage over us as Christians. You maybe are thinking that there isn’t too much of a difference between discouragement and discontentment, right? They may seem alike but they are different, I assure you. They are different in their origins, and their natures.
First of all discouragements arise from without side our hearts and work on our hearts from the outside; like your circumstances. You can’t control your circumstances but you can control how you react to them. Someone once said that life is 10% of what happens to you but 90% of how you react to it!
Discontentment on the other hand; arises from within our hearts, our spirits! So we could possibly have favorable circumstances; for the most part, but yet see something or someone and all of a sudden break down from the inside out! It throws us into a tale spin of murmuring, and complaining about our lot in life! For example; if someone lost their spouse and was having a tuff time with it; and if they were to see a couple obviously in love, holding hands, kissing they just might breakdown because it reminds the person of whom they lost.
Discouragements are more concrete than they are abstract and Discontentment is more abstract than it is concrete. But the point is, discontentment is a serious problem among us as Christians, and if left unchecked it can lead us to greater consequences than just a broken heart.
There is a quote that I found in my reading and I wrote it in the fly leaf of my study bible at home, because it spoke to me about my discontented spirit; it reads: “It is an evidence of a discontented, distrustful, restless spirit, to be weary of the place in which God has set us and to be ready to leave it immediately whenever we meet with any uneasiness or inconveniences”
Sometimes I will hear other Pastors tell how that all of the sudden some respectable, good natured man or decent, Christian lady in their church; just went crazy! They left their families and spouses behind; left their homes, their jobs, their friends, left their church behind, all to chase some dream that they have apparently been suppressing all through the years. It happens! And it usually isn’t the newly married either, it is those who are in the main stream of everything; raising kids, active it church, from all outward appearances they don’t seem to have a problem in the world!
I believe it happens because of this problem that we are talking about; this spirit of discontentment gets the best of them and they make such a divesting mid-life change!
I think this is a bigger problem than we want to realize. Before anybody ever falls into sin, whatever it is. Their was first that feeling of discontentment in their hearts making them feel like they really needed that sin that was just over the fence in front of them! Discontentment in a marriage can lead to an affair, for either the two. Discontentment can lead to abandonment of families. Discontentment can even lead to suicide!
There is a great book about contentment that I happened upon. It comes from an old puritan named Jeremiah Burroughs. He wrote the book long time ago, (300) entitled “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” and believe you me, that it’s about an inch away from being inspired! The preface says that he noticed that God’s people were just stuck on complaining, murmuring, backbiting, restlessness in their spirit, where they always wishing that their lot in life was totally different. He says that this spirit of complaining, backbiting, murmuring is not the graces of the Spirit of God in the believer’s heart. One of the grandest virtues of being a Christian is this overpowering sense of contentment that flows from the inside to the outside of life that baffles the world. He said his people reminded him of when he would go and try on new shoes. He said that “the shoe may look neat and smooth on the outside, but once the foot is in, an awful pinch every step!”
Some Christians can wear the out trappings of Christianity to a “T”, but their discontented spirit reveals where their heart truly is, far from the Lord.
I. Eve’s Discontentment Gen. 3; 1-5
Here we see the way the devil worked on Eve. He did his work ultimately through her discontentment and her doubt.
There she was in the garden, the paradise of God! She had all her physical needs met; she had a husband that thought she was just the only woman on the planet for him. She even had a relationship with God! What more could this woman want! Exactly what more could eve ask for, that she didn’t have?
Well, she could want a whole lot more, if the devil could stir up the feelings of discontentment in her.
Make her feel that she was missing something because of her role as a wife and woman. Make her feel than she was missing something because of close fellowship with God!
A. The devil stirred up her Doubt on the word of God, v1, v4.
1. The devil always puts a question mark, where God puts a period!
2. When Jesus, Peter, John and James come down from the mountain of Transfiguration, what did they find?
Mark 9:14 “And when he came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them.”
These same men would later try to catch Jesus in his talk, so as to discredit him, trap him. If you have a question about the word of God with a heart to believe what the answer is, and to do it; then by all means ask it.
But if you just want to make a show; stir up strife or have already decided not to obey whatever the answer is; then you are asking it for the wrong reason.
B. Then the devil stirred up her discontentment.
The devil made God out to be hiding something from them.
1. “God isn’t as good as you think he is Eve” God is holding you back.
2. God has been hiding from you something that he doesn’t want you to have, the chance to be like Him, Eve.
3. Here we see the beginnings of her sin. How could the devil make her take the bait, if he didn’t first of all stir up these feelings if discontentment of her present situation?
Before she could reach for that which she couldn’t have, (fruit) she must first be discontent with what she has!
The same goes for us; sin has no inducement, no luster, and no enticement to offer us, unless we are discontented with what we have.
You know the rest of the story; she gave in, and ate.
C. But what we need to get from this is the doubt the devil raised fanned the flames of her discontentment.
Before Eve ever yielded to this temptation physically (actually taking the fruit) she first yielded in her mind! Just a little sciupion about how God was good to them was used to open the door and once opened the devil left a lie in place of truth. The same approach the devil uses on us, through our circumstances, through some incident that seemed out of place, through some friend’s words we question one of the bedrock principles in the bible; like the goodness of God, or the love of God, the faithful ness of God, and so on. And we yield, up here; maybe God isn’t so good after all; maybe God isn’t so loving after all, maybe, maybe, maybe. Discontentment arises because we believe it up here to the point that we have to act out in our own self interest like Eve did; and we are up to our eye balls in some sin!
Some bible a day will keep the doubt away! It’s hard for the devil to change someone’s mind about God if they are in the Word.
If she just would have held on to her faith in God, those feelings of discontentment would have melted away like the early morning frost in the heat of the rising sun!
II. The children of Joseph’s Discontentment Jos. 17; 14
As Joshua was dividing up the Promised Land the different tribes received their lots. And instead of rejoicing that the land was finally theirs some started to complain and backbite; it was the children of Joseph. These sons of Joseph were complaining about their lot; it seemed a heard place to cut out a living at. The sure don’t remind me of their forefather, Joseph. Why Joseph found himself in some pretty awful places in his life and we don’t have any recorded instance of him complaining to God!
This tribe considered themselves the aristocrats of the family; after all it was their fore father Joseph that sustained all the rest for all those years in Egypt.
So instead of being Content where God placed them they; murmured, complained, because their lot wasn’t an easy place as the rest! Joshua implied that it would take hard work to increase their lot; which was the last thing that they wanted to hear!
Whereas Doubt was the precursor to Eve’s discontentment, we see that Pride has led these tribes to their discontented spirit. They felt that they deserved better treatment because of who they were, simply pride.
People have always had a problem with their pride, especially in this area of creating discontentment in their hearts; in fact Paul had to deal with this problem.
1Co 7:20-22 “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant (slave) is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.
“Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.”
As the gospel began to reach out in the first century community, slaves were being saved. And once a slaves became a brother in Christ, he shouldn’t expect to be set free by his Christian master, but in Paul’s own words “abide in the same calling( station, rank of life) wherein he was called( saved)”. Paul means: If God's call (call to salvation) came to you as a circumcised man or as an uncircumcised man; as a slave or as a freedman - abide in that condition. Though Paul was against slavery, he worked at stopping it fro a different approach than telling the newly saved slave to picket and rebel from the masters. Instead, Christianity basically said, now that you are a slave and saved, you be the best slave you can be for the gospel’s sake! Paul was suppressing that pride that would naturally arise in their hearts, because they would feel that they deserved better. Did you know that a lot of folks in the bible were slaves? Daniel was a slave, Ezekiel was a slave, Shadrach; Meshach; Abednego were slaves with Daniel. Nehemiah was a slave that just had a cushiony job as the king’s cupbearer. These all accepted that fact that God knew what he was doing with their lives and all were used of God, even as slaves to someone else! These were content to be slaves if it meant God’s will for their lives. There is another slave that was the best slave she could be, and God used her testimony to work in some else’s life.
2Ki 5:1-3 “Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.
And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife.
And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.”
That doesn’t sound like a discontented spirit does it? No, she knew that the Lord was over all, ever her situation. And she was a witness for God even in a hard place to live, like the life of a slave! God used her words to stir the heart of Naaman, to the point that he would go to Israel and realize that there was other God, besides in Israel!
She lived what Paul would later write, she abided in the same calling as she was called in. No pride in her, but just a wonderful spirit of contentment in her present circumstances; which graced the whole house because of her.
Discontentment is fanned into a raging fire because of our doubts, and our pride! And when we let a discontented spirit reign in us, we are not only hurting us but ultimately hurting the cause of Christ! If we would stay in the bible and stay humble; contentment would become the perfume that would envelop our lives!
What else do you want that God hasn’t provided for you? J.D. Rockafellower was asked after he first became a multimillionaire, what next he wanted? He said just a little more money!
What a discontented man! The sadder thing is that we will follow his ruinous example of just a little more!
Maybe instead of praying for forgiveness about the same sin we have committed a thousand times, maybe we should ask forgiveness for our discontentment that draws us to that sin!
 Tan, Paul Lee Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations, 1979, 831 “Greener Pastures”
 Matthew Henry