Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless~like chasing after the wind.
“Fools fold their idle hands,
leading them to ruin.”
“Better to have one handful with quietness
than two handfuls with hard work
and chasing the wind.”
~Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 (NLT)
Then I realized that we work and do wonderful things just because we are jealous of others. This makes no more sense than chasing the wind.
Fools will fold their hands
and starve to death.
Yet a very little food
eaten in peace
is better than twice as much
earned from overwork
and chasing the wind.
~Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 (CEV)
Comparison…we are all guilty of it. I think women are especially prone to comparison. We compare ourselves to those around us. Are we pretty enough? Are we thin enough? Are we dressed the right way? Is our hairstyle current? Are our houses decorated well? Are our children smart, athletic…you name it…we compare it!
It’s enough that we are naturally prone to comparison, but the media surrounds us with the temptation to compare ourselves and our lives to everyone else. Social media shows us how everyone else has a “perfect” life. Just look at their photos! Their homes are decorated perfectly and are spotless. Their clothes are so on trend. They have the most fabulous vacations and even the food they eat is “picture perfect”!
Not my life…not my house…not my clothes…not my vacations and most certainly not my food! Yet if we could see beyond the camera lens that perfectly filters their lives we would most likely find that it is all an illusion.
Recently, Hollywood released a remake of the movie, Jumanji. It is quite funny, but one of my favorite scenes is at the beginning of the movie. In it, one of the main characters, Bethany, spends time perfectly arranging her hair on her pillow with an artfully place cup of coffee on the table beside her and then, using her selfie stick, takes a photo of herself with the caption “just rolled out of bed #ughh #nofilter.” That one scene is the truth behind most of the photos we see on social media. They are not real life, rather they are staged life with some of the best photo filters applied.
Yet this is what we choose to use to compare our lives. And yes, it is a choice to allow comparison in. And when we allow comparison into our lives, its companion, discontent, is almost always close behind and discontent will wreak havoc in your life and in your relationships.
If we are discontent with our material possessions, we will always strive to acquire more. We may covet what others have. We may push ourselves and our husbands to earn more money so we can buy more stuff. We spend time and money renovating and redecorating our homes, hoping that will make us happy. Yet all too soon we find that those new things and our newly renovated homes are a disappointment as well~and the cycle begins again.If we are discontent with our bodies, we will never be happy with the way we look. We will always be too big or too little; too short or too tall; too fat or too thin; too fill in the blank. I’m not saying that we should not do our best to care and tend our bodies, but we must be content with the basic way God created our bodies, whether big, small or in between. And not only should we be content, we should be thankful!And finally, if we are discontent in our emotional lives, with our relationships, and especially with our husbands, we will constantly compare them to other husbands. And our husband will always be on the losing end of those comparisons.
I have been down this path of discontent and it always leads to its ultimate destination…disappointment. It’s a cycle. Comparison leads to discontent which leads to disappointment which leads back to comparison. If we allow it, it becomes a spiral so powerful it seems almost impossible to break free.
But there is one thing that will always free us from this cycle…contentment.
How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
In Philippians, Paul shares that he has learned to be content with whatever he has, whether nothing or everything. And the secret is Jesus!
You have probably heard verse 13 quoted many times, but I bet that almost every time it was quoted out of context. We usually see this verse on motivational prints encouraging us that we can do whatever we set our minds to do because Christ gives us strength. But when we read it in the context in which Paul wrote it, we find that Paul is actually reminding us that through Christ we can be content in every situation. Our human nature is to always want more than we have, even if we have very little or a whole lot. But Christ gives us the strength to be content in every situation.
The next time you are tempted to compare yourself or your life to something you see on television or social media, pause for a moment. Reflect on the blessings God has already given you. Choose to be thankful for what you have and ask Jesus to make you content.
Jesus, we so desperately need your help in changing our thoughts from discontent to content. We become so distracted by the things in this world that we take our eyes off of you. We mistakenly think that if we change our circumstances, we will be happier. “If only” plays over and over in our minds and we work so hard to fulfill the next “if only” on our list. But you created us and know us intimately. You want us to focus fully on you for our relationship with you is the only thing that will every fully satisfy. You alone can fill the empty space inside of us. Fill us up with your love and give us your strength to be content in every situation…
Today’s post was written by Michele Barnes.
Michele is married to the love of her life, Jeff. She has 3 grown children and 1 very sweet grandson! Most days you can find Michele laughing with good friends, working with numbers, writing, or working with women. In the evenings, she enjoys spending time in a few creative outlets like creative lettering, drawing, and pottery. She loves snuggling with her dog, Tebow, and reading. But one of her favorite passions is playing with her grandson and laughing at his bright smile! You can find her most weekends worshiping at our Real Life Clermont campus.