All of us are familiar with this scenario. Our neighbor drives up one day in his new Ford. We can’t help but notice. The old Ford Escort he had been driving was a respectable, but modest, car. It really made us feel comfortable because we drove an older car ourselves. But a new car is another story. This upscale car suddenly makes us feel uncomfortable. In fact, two new emotions seem to surface in us. ENVY and DISCONTENT. They are the emotions linked to the “Keeping up with the Jones’s” syndrome. What shall we do? Well, we resolve the problem a few days later by driving up in a new Buick. Now we feel better. This scenario is being played out across our Nation every day. Our Western culture is geared to create these emotions in all of us Notice the ads on television. In general, they are saying,

“Look at these people. They are having a great time. Look at what they have. If you had what they have, you would be happy, too. Don’t you wish you had what they have? Go out and buy it today.”

The executives in charge of the advertising agencies seek to encourage discontentment. It’s their job to create a desire in you for their product. To do that, they have to get you dissatisfied with what you have. By doing so, they stand a better chance of selling you what they have. Whether you really need it or not is immaterial. Their job is to get you to want it.

The advertising industry spends over a billion dollars a year doing research. They design novel ways to trigger our desires. Music slogans, technicolor sights, digitally produced sounds and dramatic movement, all collaborate to create a passion to possess. They use fear, pride, nostalgia, sexual arousal, jealousy and even envy to produce the desired effect. Their goal is to temporarily suspend our self-control. The result: dissatisfaction with life.

In all this, we need to remind ourselves that a covetous heart is never satisfied, and dissatisfied people are miserable. Instead of gaining we lose. We only develop a lifestyle of misery. We find our relationship strained with other people because they have more than we do. We even find ourselves being dissatisfied with God and His provisions for our lives. You see, when we covet someone else’s job, spouse, income, house or car, we are saying, “You’re not being fair with me, God. I deserve a nicer job, or a more lucrative income, or a bigger better, God.”

Now you may not say those things directly, but a covetous heart is filled with those thoughts.

I think we can all see the destructive potential of these attitudes. They can destroy not only ourselves but damage our relationships with those around us. They place us in bondage and rule our lives. But thank God—there is an alternative to covetousness—it’s called


Whereas a covetous heart is never satisfied, a contented heart is always secure. A person can be extremely well motivated with a great personal drive, and still be contented. Contentment is a state of mind. TheApostle Paul knew this to be true.

“I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I also know how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me. I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength in me, (that is, I am self sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency). Philippians 4: 11-13 (Amplified Bible)

The contented person, like Paul, knows that he has everything that he needs in God. God is his strength. God is his provider. The contented person is secure with the Lord. Whatever the circumstances, the contented person learns to praise God for the provision He has provided. God wants us to find our fulfillment in Him and not things. The real key to contentment is focusing on what you do have and not on what you don’t have. If we will take the time to take stock, we’ll find we have been blessed with so many wonderful things from God’s hands. God wants us to be people who rejoice when others are blessed, not envy them or covet what they have. He wants us to reach out to others with open hearts—open arms—and open hands, because we are contented people.

Pastor Bill