Most of the time when we think of the antonym of contentment, the word discontentment comes to mind. Yet if we take the time to unpack the concept of discontentment, we discover more precise examples. We find what truly erodes our contentment: envy, pride, entitlement, selfishness, disappointment, and especially relevant in today’s society — noise.
Our peace is under attack, and perhaps never before has this world felt such an aching lapse of contentment. Everywhere we look we are fed examples of “better and bigger” living. Yet Jesus didn’t come and offer Himself on the cross to give us better and bigger lives — not in the way this world defines it. We read in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
“Superior in quality” is what this word “abundantly” implies. In it we find a drastic contrast from the world’s understanding of better and bigger living. Christ came that we would have a life of superior quality. “Beyond measure” is another term the Greek roots of this word allude to. And in pursuit of this way — an existence of superior quality — God gives us the key in John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’” As we turn our eyes upon Jesus — the way, the truth, and the life — we discover a way of living like none this world can offer.
We can see it in the history of the Israelites in 1 Samuel 12, when their contentment sank to discontent as they peered over the fence into neighboring societies. Although God was protecting and providing for them in miraculous ways, the Israelites wanted what the others had: they wanted a king to rule over them. As Samuel confronted the Israelites, he reminded them of God’s perfect ruling. He begins in verse 6,
“Then Samuel said to the people, ‘It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of Egypt. Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the Lord as to all the righteous acts performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors. After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place. But they forgot the Lord their God.”
Their wrong step was shifting their gaze. Oh, how prone we are to forgetting the Lord our God. How quickly we look away, allowing His history of goodness to fade from our memory. Yet in verses 20-21, Samuel graciously offers the Israelites the key to disarming their discontent:
“Samuel said to the people, ‘Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile.’”
Do not turn aside, instead, turn your eyes upon Him. This is our hope for abundant life! This is our promise for days of superior quality, a life beyond measure because nothing in this world can comprehend how wonderful it is. It is measured by a heavenly rule and held in the hands of our Father. No “better or bigger” way stands a chance against it. As we turn our eyes upon Jesus, all else fades. We find ourselves living the most abundant life, one of sacred contentment.