November 5, 2020
Why More Isn’t Enough: A Broken Contentment Meter
Yesterday, we looked at the envy trap Satan sets to derail us from the path to Christ-likeness. That trap actually keeps us away from God. We hope you have been learning to be more content with God and with all He gives you each day. Today, let’s look at why we are so susceptible to this envy trap.
I remember the first paycheck I earned from helping a roofer in middle school. It seemed like so much money, $3.50/hour … then landscaping for $5.00/hr. in high school … then $7.00/hr. in college. During med school, I had many bills but God provided a $12/hr. + tips job parking cars. It paid for rent and food … and that amount seemed like so much. In the third and fourth years of med school, I worked 80-100 hours/week in the hospital for – get this … NO pay. So when I started residency in 1989, I was $108,000 in debt and hadn’t had a paycheck in 2 years. I drove my Jeep to California with 2 suitcases of clothes to my name, and $150 in my pocket.
That first month, I made $3000 gross pay. It seemed like a zillion. I felt so rich. I thought it would last forever. I believed I was in financial heaven. I was able to buy a TV and bed, and eat more than just hotdogs and pasta. Six months later, I was amazed at how little I had at the end of the month. Three thousand wasn’t enough. In my second year of residency, I earned $39,000/year. Wow, I was rich again. Within 8 months, I started to get the feeling that it wasn’t enough. In year 4, I was making $45,000 and moonlighting on the side. Again, I felt rich. But in about 10 months, I needed more. I was married and had a baby now. How could $36,000 seem so great, yet $65,000 for the same getting-by-lifestyle not be enough? It’s because our flesh is never satisfied.
You see, once we hit our goals, our nature is to reset or recalibrate to a higher setting. We need more to get the same satisfaction. In addictions counseling, we call it developing a tolerance, needing more of the drug to get the same effect as we had the first time we used the drug. Part of it is that the brain circuitry and dopamine reward system get unbalanced. Needing more as time goes on happens in many areas … money … space in a kitchen or yard … alcohol or caffeine … asking for more out of marriage now than when we got engaged … job satisfaction … needing 1, 2, then 3, cars. Our amnesia regarding realistic settings and the recalibration phenomena dangerously dangle us right over the envy trap. Do you know what we really deserve? Nothing! That’s why God’s grace is so amazing.
Today, examine your needs meter. Have you calibrated your setting much higher than is truly necessary? Have your extra wants turned into essential needs? It is OK to want certain things, but we really get in trouble when we start believing we need that object in order to have contentment or to enjoy life. That is the flesh and Satan working in concert. Evaluate where God wants to set your meter, or how Jesus set His. Start thanking Him for what you have and learn how to use and enjoy it rather than always wanting more. Whether you calibrate your Contentment Meter to God’s provisions or you calibrate it to your flesh’s desires is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father, Thanks for meeting my needs. Help me understand the difference between real needs and unnecessary desires. Teach me to be satisfied and thankful for You provision instead of saying, “thanks, but I need more.” Help me to resist being like Adam and Eve, who had so much but still desired more. Help me focus on what I have and not on what I lack. God, You are so awesome and Your design is perfect. Transform me through Godly decision-making so I am not conformed to this world by my fleshly decisions. In Christ’s perfectly calibrated offering and name; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Luke 4:3-12
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Genesis 3:4-7