Lucifer was once an honored angel, a cherub. He was perfect in beauty, full of wisdom, and was admitted to the holy mountain of God, where he walked in the midst of the stones of fire. He was in Eden, the garden of God, of which the one on earth was evidently a copy. His ways were perfect, and God gave him the work of "covering," and also anointed him.
But Lucifer was not satisfied.
He was envious of God, he became lifted up because of his beauty; he corrupted his wisdom because of his brightness, and decided upon a course which he hoped would make him equal to God. He went so far that he said, "I am a God, I sit in the seat of God."
Some might hesitate to call discontent sin. Yet few sin have a more sinister nature and are the cause of more misery. Discontent gives a distorted view of life and events, sours the disposition, and causes irritation and evil thoughts. It finds its sole consolation in having others share its misery and gloomy outlook. It is a stranger to love, and is antithetical to faith and hope. Like misery, it loves company; in fact, misery and discontent are nearly synonymous.
Discontent is mostly a state of mind. A person may be entirely satisfied with his lot; he may not be in want in any way; but suddenly he discovers that someone else has what he has not, and immediately he becomes dissatisfied. As he broods over the matter he becomes convinced that he has been ill treated, that someone is against him, and after a while the situation becomes intolerable to him and he feels that he can stand it no longer. He is convinced that he is right and that in taking steps to rectify the alleged injustice he is merely doing his little share in establishing justice in the earth. Had he the gift to see himself as others see him, he would know that his motives are not as pure as he would have them appear, that envy and jealousy play a large part in his feelings, that evil thoughts and evil words and works have resulted, and that a residue of bitterness remains that is not from God.
Christ considered the matter of discontent of such importance that He devoted a parable to it. "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And when he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
"So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny! Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own! Is thine eye evil, because I am good! So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen." Matthew 20:1-16.
Some who read this parable are puzzled as to its meaning. They are doubtful that the householder did right. Should not men who work long hours have more pay than those who work only a short time! They are inclined to believe that the men had just cause for complaint. Such fail to get the lesson which Christ was attempting to teach.
The householder had agreed with the men who were hired early in the day that they should have a penny each. A mutually satisfactory arrangement had been reached, and the men were presumably satisfied, as a penny was the usual pay in those times for a day's work. They labored all day without complaint, expecting to get their penny when the day was done. They would doubtless have been satisfied with their bargain had it not happened that those who had labored only a short time were paid off first and given a penny for their work. When the first laborers saw this they expected to get more; and when they did not they began to murmur. The householder took them aside and told them that he had done them no harm. They had agreed to work for a penny; they had received a penny, and they-should be satisfied. "Is thine eye evil," the householder says, "because I am good?"
The lesson here is not that all men should have the same pay whether they work much or little. Christ's other teachings make it very plain that a man is worthy of his hire, and that the reward is to be proportionate to the effort put forth. The lesson is rather that a man is to abide by the bargain he has made, and not whine; and that it is none of his concern if others are treated better than he, or get more pay.
This is not an easy lesson to learn. Much of our discontent arises, not from any injustice done as such, but because we have discovered that others have more than we, or we think they are treated better. Immediately our complaints begin. After the resurrection Jesus had a talk with Peter, and then asked him to follow Him. Peter did so, but noticed that John followed also. Peter did not like this, and said as much to Jesus. The rebuke which Peter received, he did not forget soon; nor should we. "Jesus saith unto Him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee! follow thou me." John 21:22.
"What is that to thee?"
In other words, is that any of your affair? How often we choose to make that out business with which we have nothing to do! It would be well if we could learn to attend to our own affairs, and let others' alone. We would be better off; and so would they.
Once some soldiers came to John the Baptist and asked him what they should do. He answered, "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages." Luke 3:14. The soldiers did not get a large wage. They therefore used other means, at times unlawful, to increase their income. John's advice was that they do violence to no man and accuse none falsely, hut be content with their wages.
"Godliness with contentment is great gain." 1 Tim. 6:6. Discontentment is a great loss. It is hard—shall we say impossible—to be discontented and he a Christian. Discontent leads to gloominess, darkness, discouragement. It leads to jealousy, evil thoughts, and murmurings. It has its roots in covetousness and evil surmisings. It is weariness to the bones, and saps the vitality of Christian experience. It is the first step in a long list of evils that may lead a man far from where he intended to go in the first place.
On the other hand, how beautiful is contentment! A contented soul is thankful, whereas a discontented soul is unthankful and has forgotten the many mercies of the Lord. We all need to encourage the virtue of thankfulness. We should he neither unthankful nor unholy, both of which the discontented person is likely to be.
Home | Envy | Selfishness | Hatred & Lying | Pride | Covetousness
Y2K | Recipes | Ten Gospel Truths