Honing the Skill of Contentment 

For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. ~ Philippians 4:11-12

Proverbs tells us that our eyes are like the grave—they are never satisfied (see Pro. 27:20). Is this not true? More is never enough. We often want for the sake of wanting. Yet, no matter how much we get and have, we are not satisfied. 

The apostle Paul acknowledged contentment is something he had to learn. Through various experiences of having abundance and being destitute, he gradually learned to be content, to be grateful in all circumstances, and realize he had everything in which he truly needed in Christ.

More stuff and more money do not satisfy because they cannot satisfy. Mind you, having possessions and money are not wrong, but if God were to strip these from us, how many of us would still find satisfaction in knowing that we belong to Him? 

How does your desire for things compare with your desire for Christ? How did Paul learn to be content? Where is true satisfaction to be found, and are you experiencing this?

Let Us Give Thanks

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

It is common for persons to wonder what God’s will is for them. Should they become this, should they do that, what direction should they go? For the follower of Jesus Christ, God’s will is for him to be continually grateful. To be thankful does not require an education or ordination. Being thankful does not depend on any special skills or talents. Gratitude simply requires a choice from an appreciative heart yielded unto a faithful Creator.

Life is both difficult and painful, but each of us experience blessings we can give thanks for. Many can give thanks for tangible things like food, housing, vehicles, and clothing. Many can give thanks for physiological things such as good health and the abilities to walk, see, hear, and reason. Some, indeed, walk some very difficult paths, but they have faith, hope, friends, and mercies. And for those are Christ’s, we have new life, forgiveness, every spiritual blessing, the Holy Spirit within, and God’s guidance and presence.

One of the supreme marks of a Christian is simple gratitude, even when life is not going the way one would necessarily like. This week, try to count your many blessings. As the old hymn notes, you will be surprised by all the Lord has done and given!

Are you a complainer? If so, is your life really as bad as you make it sound? Do you regularly give God thanks for what you have? There might be things you desire to have, but are you genuinely grateful for what you do have?

Forever Grateful 

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapters one and two, believers are given some glimpses of deep realities of the depths of God’s love for us countered by the realities of our depravity and utter helplessness. Regarding His love for those who are His, take note of some strong words, full of meaning, used to describe God’s activities on our behalf.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ. ~ Ephesians 1:3-9

Two common mistakes I think many Christians make are, 1) thinking they actually understand the concepts of  God’s choosing us, predestination, adoption, and redemption; and 2) either dismissing or changing their meanings. These mean exactly what they say, despite the depths are beyond human comprehension.

One’s redemption, cleansing, and salvation were God’s ideas and initiatives, not ours. We could neither dream of a God loving us so much that He would suffer for us nor that He would lavish such profound love, grace, and forgiveness so richly and freely. Furthermore, as we will see from chapter two, apart from His initiatives, we would not have desired these to begin with.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air [the devil], the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 2:1-6

Like zombies, we appeared to be alive, but we were dead; made insane as we were driven by sinful passions and godless pride, following the current of the world and the rebellion of the devil. Like bucking, untamed horses, we kicked against the sacred and holy. By grace we are saved—and only by grace.

Again, a couple of common mistakes I think Christians make are, 1) thinking one was/is better than he really was/is; 2) thinking we didn’t follow after Satan in his rebellion; and 3) thinking that some inkling of goodness of our own contributed to our salvation.

The debt Christ paid with His own blood was a price we could never have paid. The humiliation and shame He endured was so we could be delivered from our own, making us acceptable to God. We sometimes forget just how serious our situation was. We were both separated from God and bound for a hell of our own earning and deserving. Jesus will forever be deserving of our awe, praise, worship, surrender, and gratitude. May we be forever grateful.

20 Ways to Improve Your Happiness

We live in a time—despite all the advancements—when so many feel lonely, angry, anxious, and depressed. Many people are simply not happy, let alone joyful. I admit, I have experienced bouts of depression. The following list, although won’t cure a person of unhappiness, are of great help in maintaining a measure of happiness. 

  1. Be grateful. Many of us have far more than we realize, and sadly, we live in a day when many feel they are “entitled” to having things. However, the reality is we are to work and contribute to society. Furthermore, the world is unfair. Some have more, whether money and/or opportunities. Still, many of us have more than others. Learn to be grateful for the job, schooling, food, health, etc. you do have.
  2. Help others. It is true that some people suffer more than others, but no one goes through life without experiencing some form of pain, loneliness, loss, heartache, fear, etc. Take time to visit the lonely at an elderly care center, minister to the poor at a food shelter, or help out at a youth program. You just might find that as you help others, you are helped in return.
  3. Forgive. Perhaps nothing else impales one’s own soul as a sword than that of bitterness and the refusal to forgive. Strangely, forgiveness has little to do with perpetrators but with the wounded. One does not forgive for the sake of the offender but for one’s own sake. To forgive is not that the offender is set free, but allowing one’s own self to heal and be set free. If you refuse to forgive, the one you’ll torment is yourself. Your bitterness and unhappiness will only deepen and tighten until you are willing to forgive.
  4. Appreciate the “little” things. Take the time to “smell the roses.” There are many blessings we receive that have no monetary value but can so enrich our lives if we take the time to appreciate them. For example, a cup of coffee in the morning, a warm shower, shared laughter with a friend, an encouraging word, a warm smile from a stranger, a door held open as a kind gesture, the love of dog, a beautiful morning, etc. Appreciating the “little” things will do wonders.
  5. Don’t surrender to fear. Each of us experience fear from time to time; however, there are those who are afraid every day. They trust no one, they’re afraid of catching Covid, they’re afraid of the future, they’re afraid of running out of money, they’re afraid of dying, etc. Such fears torment them daily. So tormented are they of what could, but unlikely will, happen that they can’t enjoy the present. Jesus tells us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:33-34).
  6. Smile and laugh more. There are those who take life so seriously they’ve forgotten how to laugh. There are some Christians who seem to think it’s a sin to laugh and find enjoyment. Granted, there is a time to weep and a time to be serious. But there are also times to laugh and experience festivity. Enjoy the laughter and silliness of friends, the birth of a child, marriages of friends, and baptisms of others. These, too, are gifts from God to be received with thanksgiving.
  7. Extend and receive kindness and respect. One of my pet peeves os people who have no problem treating others like dirt but expect to be treated with respect. Learn to treat others with kindness and respect. So what if they’re a doctor or janitor, a man or woman, an adult or child, black or white, rich or poor, religious or non-religious? Treat everyone as persons who are created in the likeness of their Creator. For that is what each of us is, nothing more and certainly nothing less.
  8. Learn to be content. This is a difficult one that takes time—learning to be content no matter one’s situation. The apostle Paul writes, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13).
  9. Trust God’s promises. The Bible does not promise things will always go our way, but tells us to expect difficult times. After all, we live in a fallen world. Still, for the redeemed who truly love God, He gives this promise: “for those who love God all things work together for good, good day for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
  10. Delight in God. The psalmist doesn’t deny the the fact that the wicked often prosper, etc, but he also warns against being envious of them for their time of judgment will come. Instead, he says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4). The things our hearts truly long for the things of this world cannot satisfy.
  11. Let go of your hurts (don’t live as a victim). There are some who forever nurse their hurts and hardships, constantly blaming others for their misery. This is not to say the hurts or past injustices are not real, but persons refuse to move on, to heal, to stop blaming. Instead, they live life as a victim rather than striving to become a conqueror. To do so requires work, but it can be done. Having a victim mentality will only perpetuate unhappiness.
  12. Stop criticizing yourself. Learn to accept yourself. Stop calling yourself stupid, ugly, clumsy, worthless, and unlovable. Each of us have faults and weaknesses, but we also have strengths and skills uniquely given by God. Paul says we are like members of a body, some applauded others hidden, some attractive some less attractive—but each is vital. (see 1 Cor. 12:12-26). Excel as the person God created you to be.
  13. Let go of the past. There are those who are so stuck in the past they cannot enjoy the present. For some, it’s because of abuse, while for others it’s because the past was their glory days. Let go of the past. No, you might not ever forget it, but learn to be present in the present. Glory in the blessings of the moment. Allow yourself to heal. Become someone’s hero today, even if you don’t hear an applause.
  14. Don’t let regrets define your future. Many of us have regrets and have done things we’re now ashamed of. Much of life is learned through trials, errors, and hard knocks. But these should help us to learn, grow, and improve. No, we’re not who or what we had hoped to be or hope to become. Paul, writes, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).
  15. Understand that you are not a mistake. No matter your situation, failures, guilt, or shame, you are no accident. In Christ, there is complete redemption for those who genuinely desire it and receive it by faith. The psalmist writes, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13). And we read in Acts, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (17:26-27). We find our greatest joy when we know Him and understand our purpose and being.
  16. Don’t be so easily offended by differing opinions. Some people allow their whole worlds to be unraveled because others have differing views and opinions. Why? And just because someone disagrees doesn’t make them a bigot, xenophobe, or any other kind of (?)-phobe. Even if they are, so what? So many are busy starting fires or adding fuel to them. Again, why? While there is a time to speak up, there is also a time to hold your peace. Knowing the difference requires wisdom. There is a peace that can come when one minds his own business and allows others to have a completely different view.
  17. Quit complaining. Most people complain from time to time, but some people complain all the time, like a Goldilocks who never finds a “just right.” The weather is either too hot or too cold. The atmosphere in a restaurant is too loud, the food is either over or undercooked, the waitress is too slow, the menu is too expensive, etc. There is always something to diminish the beauty of anything. Complainers lack both gratitude and appreciation. Complainers miss the 97% of positivity because they are fixated on the 3% negativity. If you want to improve your happiness, quit complaining about everything. 
  18. Get some sunlight. There are numerous benefits of sunlight, but one is it helps boost the body’s release of serotonin, which helps a person’s mood.
  19. Exercise. This should be a no-brained, but exercise is good for a person physically and mentally. It doesn’t need to be strenuous, just going out for a walk and getting some fresh air is good for the spirit.
  20. Turn off the news and social media. Last but not least, for goodness’ sake, turn off the news and social media. Rarely are politicians honest, and celebrities are not the gods and goddesses they think themselves to be. Furthermore, not everyone is fighting like piranhas in a frenzy. Not everyone is a criminal. Most people’s lives are not picture perfect, and there is still a lot of beauty and kindness in the world. 

Life is filled with trials and pain, but in and through Christ even these can be redeemed and be seeds to later joy. Again, this list is not a cure for unhappiness; however, if you look beyond yourself and put these things into practice, then you will find a measure of genuine happiness and joy. Do these and refuse to be a victim of your own unhappiness.

Are You Astonished By His Grace?

“O Lord, I am astonished at the difference between my receivings and my deservings, between the state I am now in and my past gracelessness, between the heaven I am bound for and the hell I merit,” prays on of the Puritans. [1]  Who prays like this anymore? What a time we live in, that despite our selfishness and love for sin (one loves lust, another greed, another pride, another idolatry, but each is rebellion against God), persons like to think humanity is “basically good.”  Many act as though God owes us something, as if salvation is a given. 

I am not so much talking about the non-religious, but I am talking about many church goers who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. People declaring they are such and such, condoning whatever behaviors suit them, then acting as though God is obliged to look upon them with favor.

Is any of us really like sweet Georgia peaches, just a little bruised? But what do the Scriptures say?

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” … For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ~ Romans 3:10-18, 22-23

Elsewhere, in an epistle written to Christians, the apostle writes,

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. ~ Ephesians 2:1-3

Apart from Jesus Christ, none of us is deserving of God’s affection. Each of us was walking dead men, followers of the devil, walking in the passions of our own lusts, and children of wrath. No, we are not sweet peaches but poisonous mushrooms. What presumptuous arrogance that is so predominant in many American churches, as persons live however they want to live, disregarding the authority of the Scriptures, the teachings of Christ and His apostles, and thinking God is pleased just because persons gather “in His name.” This is no different than the rebellious and idolatrous Israelites, false prophets, and the corrupt priests God rejected in the Old Testament.

Where is humility? What has happened to mourning over one’s sins? What has happened to persons acknowledging God’s perception as being correct and that it is the individual’s perception which is wrong?

My friend, if there is no evident change in your life and no conformity to the likeness of Christ (including His love, humility, purity, holiness, and the like), then it is highly unlikely that you are genuinely a Christian. 

The apostle writes concerning the grace of God,

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation [i.e., making it available] for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. ~ Titus 2:11-12

Again, he writes,

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant. ~ Philippians 2:3-7

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. ~ Galatians 5:13

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

If you are saved—born again—it is only by grace. The Scriptures tell us that even our righteousness—our supposed good deeds—are but “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6, KJV). Look up the Hebrew term for “filthy rags,” it’s quite disgusting—which is the point.

Each of us should be astonished at the mercies God grants us. We shouldn’t ever lose the wonder of His undeserving grace. If you do not at all see glimpses of the wretch and scoundrel you really are (as am I), then how do you understand your need for a Savior? And if such glimpses of your depravity don’t  cause you to realize your desperate need for repentance and forgiveness, it is highly doubtful you really understand anything about grace, let alone experienced it.

That God would bother to look upon us with pity and snatch us from the flames, which was our destination, should create such unending humble gratitude. But how much of this do we truly see within American churches?

__________

[1] Arthur Bennet, ed., “The Mover,” in The Valley of Vision (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1975), 12.

An Appreciation for Sacrifices

Hello my friends, I hope your Memorial Day weekend may be a blessed, and filled with gratitude of the many men and women who gave their all for our benefit.

The summer of 2002 was the first time I had the privilege and opportunity to visit Washington DC. How unfortunate that our nation’s capital is more known for the dirtbags in offices making shady deals and building their bank accounts, rather than the graves and memorials to keep the remembrance of many heroes alive.

I was there for nearly a week. Each day was emotionally charged, as I was on the verge of tears nearly constantly. The Vietnam Memorial Wall is much bigger and longer than photographs can capture. I have two uncles who were in the Vietnam War. They never talk about the war, but I’m fortunate that I got to know them. Sadly, I passed by name after names, literally thousands engraved on the Wall, of uncles, dads, brothers, and sons of families who did not get to see them or know them. To see so many names engraved cannot be described. I still remember the older gentleman, whom I saw from a distance later, taking off his hat and bowing his head as he walked beside the Wall. 

I remember the statues of soldiers standing silently, yet crying out to remember the brave ones in the Korean War. And how can I forget the Arlington Cemetery and the somber Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers? Each of these memorials are reminders of persons, both living and dead, who made great sacrifices of which benefit others. 

During this week I realized everything I enjoy came at the sacrifice of others. My salvation came at the Sacrifice of the Savior who loves me so, and the sacrifices of many saints who continued to share and preserve the gospel and Scriptures. My freedom I’ve enjoyed comes at the expense of multitudes who have fought for it for, and before that sacrifices of some who sought a new land for a new beginning. Without any disrespect for the fallen, but only to honor the sacrifices of many. I think of my mom who worked and worried, sacrificing so much to raise me. I did not die for my salvation, or fight for my freedom, or raise myself by my own hard work and know-how. These came by the sacrifices of so many before me.

How shameful that so many in our society lack gratitude, let alone the showing of honor, for the many who made sacrifices for them. I hope you will not be among them. These persons deserving of our honor experienced sleepless nights, fear, nightmares, and pain many of us will never understand.

Rest In Peace, fallen heroes. You are  honored and not forgotten.

Perhaps we are most like the ungodly when we are ungrateful. Contrary to popular belief, no one owes us anything—especially God! Yet, how many of us are blessed by God, as well as the work and kindnesses of others? Productivity, a warm hello, a helping hand, a good meal, etc. Even “self-made” persons do not make their buildings, cars, computers, phones, etc. Others did. Others’ giftings are often gifts to us, and all these come from God. What insolent arrogance when we think we are above displaying gratitude.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him. ~ Romans 1:21

Encourage Your Pastor

One of the sad (but true) jokes in churches is that many families will have roasted pastor for dinner after Sunday’s service. However, the pastor who is genuinely called by God and is trying to lead a congregation in the ways of God has a tremendous responsibility. Furthermore, he does so many things behind the scenes ministering to others most are unaware of. Contrary to popular belief, pastors do far more than “just prepare for sermons and preach.” They serve as counselors and comforters, and many are on-call 24/7.

Pastors are not perfect (although they are to be godly). They have feelings and passions. They experience fear, sadness, discouragement, and anger. Many are husbands and fathers trying to be good In these roles (these are difficult for them too), and often people expect their families to be picture perfect. Dysfunction brings their calling, character, and credibility into question.

Pastors must deal with conviction and accountability to God for how they behave and handle the Word of God. They must deal with their own consciences making them aware of their failures and inadequacies. And pastors have “a target on their backs,”  more so than the average Christian, because if Satan can influence them to fall into gross sin and scandalous activities, then congregations can be divided, confounded, and even faith being shipwrecked of some.

I have read of the following statistics:

  • 97% of pastors have been betrayed, falsely accused, or hurt by their trusted friends.
  • 70% of pastors struggle with depression.
  • 1500 pastors quit each month.
  • 10% will retire as pastors.
  • 80% of pastors feel discouraged.
  • 94% of pastor’s families feel the pressure of ministry.
  • 78% of pastors have no close friends.
  • 90% of pastors report to working 55-75 hours per week.

The primary tasks of a pastor is studying/teaching God’s Word and devoting himself to earnest prayer. Christians can say they “love God’s Word,” but pastors make a lot of people mad when they do truly preach God’s Word!

If you have a godly (albeit imperfect) pastor who strives to be faithful to Jesus Christ, His Word, and the Great Commission; and if he seeks to minister to the congregation and is burdened for the souls of people, then you are truly blessed. The Bible says this of such individuals:

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. ~ 1 Timothy 5:17 (ESV)

And,

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. ~ Hebrews 13:17

Do you give honor—even double honor—to your pastor? Or do you nit pick his flaws, give him grief because he did not call you on your birthday, and roast him because he preached against your beloved pet sin(s)? If the latter, how is this of any benefit to you? What gain is there in wounding and making the work difficult of one who loves you? Sadly, often pastors pour themselves out (sometimes at the expense of their families) only to meet with continual resistance, roasting, and betrayal from congregants. 

Do you pray for your pastor’s well being? Have you encouraged your pastor (and his family) lately? A gift, a note of appreciation, and the like could be of great encouragement to him. It might even be that needed spark to help him keep from giving up. Encourage your pastor. He experiences the stresses of life and loss, just as you, all the while putting these aside ad he tried to minister to others. The weight and burdens he carries with him you will never understand. He needs your prayers and encouragement more than you can ever know.

Ingratitude and the Accompanying Unhappiness

Entitlement (the sense of) and ingratitude are so prevalent today. Connected to these is discontentment—never satisfied with what one has, the continuous of always wanting more. Such selfish thinking and attitudes come with a costly price, however. 

First, these erode one’s happiness. How can a person be happy if he is always upset about what he does not have, but not truly appreciative of what he does have? How can he be happy if he is always cuddling a grudge because someone has what he wants but does not, or cannot, have?

Second, peace is eroded. Like a person with OCD, one cannot enjoy the beauty of a painting because there are scratches on the frame. One cannot enjoy a delicious meal because a family member’s hair is found on his plate. 

Third, one’s perception of others—and even life itself—is distorted. Seeing the specks in others’ eyes, a person fails to see the big oak tree in their own eye. Those who “have” are viewed as selfish and bad, all the while an individual is oblivious to their own selfishness and the toxicity of their covetousness.

I have had the opportunity to go to Uganda, Africa twice for mission trips. On my first trip our team visited a refugee camp. It was heartbreaking as we saw all these people who were malnourished. Many of them, like the young boy we met, had family who were killed by “rebel soldiers” from Sudan. This boy witnessed some horrible things, traveled by himself day and night, and was now in a “safe” place, but did not have a home, food, education, video games, phone, etc. Nevertheless, he did not have an angry or bitter spirit.

On both trips we met people who did not have much. In fact, we met some who only had beans and rice to eat—and that was on a good day! Many did not have the luxury of having a house (many still live in huts), variety of nice clothes, or glasses to see better. There is not a Target or Walmart where they can buy food and supplies, nor do they have a sterile hospital to go in case of an emergency. Yes, these people would like to have some of these; nevertheless, they are a delightful and hospitable people. 

It is strange to see the unhappiness and anger in so many people in America who have so much. One might have a roof over their head in a safe neighborhood, but it is not one of the “nice” ones on the other side of town. One has a good variety of food to eat each day, but it is not Red Lobster. One has nice clothes from a department store, but they are not designer brands. And on and on it goes. Instead of gratitude there is griping. Instead of appreciation, there is anger. Instead of being content there is contempt. Thus, those who have are viewed as “bad” because they have, regardless of the work or sacrifices they made to get to where they are and what they have.

Gratitude is a choice, and it will play a huge part in one’s happiness and peace. No, it will not cure every ill or fulfill every need; however, it will help one’s perception, and it will help establish a foundation for contentment and hope. Is life fair? No. But it is not as bad as many make it out to be. For sure, there are people who have far more than many of us; yet, many of us still have far more than others. 

Jesus asks, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” ~ Matthew 16:26 (ESV)

Paul writes to Timothy, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:7-9

Elsewhere we are told, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” ~ Hebrews 13:5

If one’s focus is on everything that he does not have or what is bad, he will miss out on what he has and what is good. If one feels entitled to things, he is going to be upset when others tell him they do not owe him anything. 

What about you? No, life will not always go your way, and you will experience bumps and bruises along the journey. But do you have friends and family who love you? Do you have clean water and food to eat? Do you have a home where you are safe and warm? Can you read and write? Are you in good health and in your right mind? If you can say yes to these, you have more than you realize, and still much more than many. Be grateful. Be content. Do not allow ingratitude and discontentment to suck the joy, peace, and happiness from your life.