As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7 (NLT)
There is no doubt that thoughts direct the course of our lives. We base our actions on what we are thinking at the moment and over longer periods of time.
Our thought life is a critical aspect to change discontent in life because what we think or believe about various things will determine how we respond to them. Our thoughts form our opinions, create our belief system, and fan the flame of our desires. What we think determines our emotional mood and causes us to have various feelings.
Our thoughts precede our emotions; our emotions and desires are a result of our thought life. For example, people who struggle with discontent will think about how things are not the way they want them to be. They believe they are entitled to something different, something better. These thoughts breed feelings of unhappiness, anger, envy, and jealousy.
The thoughts lead to actions, sulking, crying, angry outbursts, whining and other kinds of things that people do when they are discontent.
This produces fruit of discontent.
For example, Paul says that love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. Money serves as an example that most of us can readily identify with since we often see money as THE tool to get us to our personal Utopia which is why coveting money seems to something most of us wish for. Having said that Paul could just as easily said "the love of something other than Christ is the root of all kinds of evil).
This means that the fruit of discontent does not appear in isolation from other bad fruit. If the root of discontent is craving (a loving) for more power, more (loving) control, more (loving) approval, more (loving) pleasure then we can expect more bad fruit than just an overall sensation of never being quite satisfied.
Imagine for a moment the limbs on one of your backyard trees. Each limb has a number of smaller limbs, some larger than others but all produce leaves or fruit. The root system of a tree is similar to the above ground limb system of a tree with each root having a number of tentacles.
The fruit on a tree is the result of the quality of the root system and if discontent is obviously present we can expect a number of different tentacles within the root system that eventually manifest themselves as more bad fruit. In other words, there are within the root system many idols and serving those idols produces other bad fruits on the tree related to discontent.
Discontent can come from a heart of envy. I want something that someone else has. It's comparison via others and wondering why we have not been so blessed.
- I wish my kids were like her kids.
- If only my husband were more like hers.
- She has a job she loves, why can't I?
- She is really popular, why not me?
- I am not happy with my looks and wish I looked like her.
- I am not as smart as her or as successful as she is.
At first glance it looks as if discontent is the main thing to repent of and certainly it is a significant presenting problem as you've seen from all the bad fruit produced.
When a person is discontent, she is allowing her desires to rule her life. This will begin to govern your relationship with other people and it may become the motivation for other sin. You will become a covetous person, wanting what you see other people have.
The desire is coveting, a craving for something unlawful or a godly desire that has become a demand and it's all born out of the worship of another God. Because of the way that coveting values a particular thing over trust in and obedience to the Lord as the provider, it is also a breach of the first commandment, which the apostle Paul makes clear when he refers to coveting as idolatry (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5).
This is why there must be repentance at a deeper level, repentance in the root system.
(Thanks to my friend Pastor Bruce Roeder for his outline on The Discontented Heart, from which today's post is drawn)