One of the memorable details in the Exodus is Pharaoh hardening his heart. Despite the miracles, the plagues, the pronouncements of Moses, he persisted, and the end result was God’s judgment on him and his nation. Pharaoh wasn’t the only one with a hard heart. Israel soon developed one in the wilderness. In the Old Testament and New Testament, we are warned not to harden our hearts. Of course, we would never … It doesn’t happen overnight though. It starts with an action or an attitude and before we know it, we are cold and indifferent to God and His word. We’ve begun considering some cautionary signposts that mean we are on the road to a heart hardened toward God. So far, we’ve discussed disobedience and wealth. Today, let’s look at discontent.
What is discontent?
From the dictionary, discontent is a sense of grievance, a lack of satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation. It is rampant in our culture. We are taught to constantly take inventory, to compare and even disparage those who have what we believe we should have. We manifest our discontent through complaining. We probably don’t think of ourselves as complainers, but we probably know someone who is. (That was tongue in cheek.) Consider your daily routine. The traffic was slow. The coffee has too much or not enough whatever in it. The order wasn’t quick enough. The internet is slow (I’m repenting as I type). That person doesn’t pull their weight. Those rules are useless. That costs too much. And on Sunday, the sermon was too long, too shallow, didn’t address my needs. The music was dull. Or too loud. And on and on and on.
How does complaining produce hardness?
Theologically, it is borne out of envy or covetousness. It is an accusation that God is not good, that He is not fair, that His provision for us is neither adequate nor appropriate. It teaches us that we are the ultimate arbiters of good and right and not Almighty God. Because we don;t want to give up our position, we harden our hearts toward the True God.
“How long must I endure this evil community that keeps complaining about me? I have heard the Israelites’ complaints that they make against me.Numbers 14:27
God does not tolerate any other gods.
How do you soften a heart hardened by discontent?
The New Testament has some advice for how to soften our hearts.
“It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”Matthew 20:26-28
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.Philippians 2:3-5
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”Hebrews 13:5
If your primary thought about others is how to love and serve them, there isn’t room for the envy that produces discontent. When we add to that the perspective that we have Christ’s presence with us, no material things can compare. Finally, our contentment is a powerful witness to the world around us. Paul explains:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.Philippians 2:14-15