“It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else.” (Ecclesiastes 6:9, GNT)
The first step to becoming a contented person is to stop comparing yourself to others. The problem is that comparison is our favorite pastime! We do it all the time.
You walk into somebody’s house, and the first thing you do is make comparisons: “I like that floor! Look at that drapery! Wow, what a television!” You think to yourself, “My house doesn’t look anything like this!” Or you walk past somebody and think, “I like the way she did her hair; mine looks terrible today.”
You are constantly comparing, and it keeps you frustrated. You’ve got to stop it! If you’re going to learn contentment, you’ve got to stop comparing your life to everyone else’s.
You also must learn to admire without having to acquire. You need to learn to rejoice in other people’s prosperity without getting envious and feeling like you need it too.
Here’s a great principle that many people don’t understand: You don’t have to own it to enjoy it! Maybe you like to vacation in the mountains. Why do you have to buy a mountain cabin when you can just rent or even borrow a friend’s cabin the one time a year you go to the mountains? Ownership isn’t the only way to enjoy something.
Not making comparisons isn’t just a good idea — it’s a commandment from God. Exodus 20:17 says, “You shall not covet … anything that belongs to your neighbor” (NIV).
Coveting is the uncontrolled desire to acquire. It’s such an important sin to avoid that it’s included in the Ten Commandments. The word covet in Greek means that you grasp something so tightly that you can’t let it go. If God ever gives you something and he tells you to give it away and you can’t, then you don’t own it — it owns you.
God is not saying you should never desire anything. Desires are not wrong. In fact, many of your desires come from God. But when a desire is uncontrolled, it becomes coveting; you compare yourself to others and think you must have more. That uncontrolled desire for something that is not yours is sinful and leads to all kinds of problems.
But desire isn’t always negative. In fact, nothing can be accomplished unless you desire to do it. You can’t become more like Christ without desiring to become more like Christ. You can’t be a more loving person without desiring to be a more loving person. You can’t be a more generous person without desiring to be a more generous person.
This kind of Christ-like, contented life only happens when you learn not to compare. When you compare, that leads to coveting, and when you covet, you can’t be content.
The book of Ecclesiastes says it simply: “It is better to be satisfied with what you have than to be always wanting something else” (Ecclesiastes 6:9, GNT). May that be our prayer today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.