2 Weeks to Becoming Grateful
If you haven’t, take a moment to read part one of our Thanksgiving blog series, “3 Weeks to Becoming Grateful.”
Every now and then, I go on what I like to call a “watching home renovation and design shows” bender. I log into my Discovery+ and watch hours upon hours of my favorite designers renovating homes, buying new furniture, and creating exquisite kitchens that just leave me full of envy. While I love to watch these shows to get design ideas, I always leave my design show bender hating everything about my house.
Here’s the thing. My house is great. All the stuff in my house is great, and I’m sure some people would look at my home and ask why I’m complaining. It’s not wrong to want to redo things in your house or get new things. However, my problem stems from my lack of contentment. Maybe you can resonate?
In our journey to become grateful, one of the roadblocks we often hit centers around this feeling of wanting more — something better or greater. The next new toy, phone, you name it. I have literally three closets full of clothing, yet I still feel the need to buy more. I have a whole house full of things, pieces I picked out with stories and memories, yet I still want something new. I have everything I could possibly ever need, but I’m not content. The worst part is, my lack of being content is single-handedly preventing me from being grateful.
There’s someone in Scripture who had the same problem. His name was Ahab and he was the worst king Israel ever had. But of all the horrendous things that Ahab did, there was one thing that I would say “pushed God over the edge.”
This part of Ahab’s story takes place in 1 Kings 21, where we see Ahab, a king who had palaces, vineyards, and pretty much anything and everything you could ask for, still wanting more. And in this passage specifically, we see Ahab wanting something else, but this time being told no. Take a look,
Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him. — 1 Kings 21:1–4
Have you ever felt like Ahab in this situation? After not getting what you want, you go home and sulk, throwing a pity party for yourself? Yeah, we’ve all been there. Again, this is me after watching most home design shows. But Ahab’s story didn’t stop there. His wife, Jezebel, took it upon herself to make sure Ahab got what he wanted. And to make a long story short, she deceived the people of Naboth’s town into having him and his family killed for “going against God.”
Needless to say, God was not pleased, and we pick up the story in verse 17,
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”’
Ahab’s life was later taken, along with the lives of all who knew him. All because of the discontentment of a king and queen who already had everything, yet, it wasn’t enough.
If you take anything away from Ahab’s story, I hope it is this: our lack of contentment leads straight to ruin, destruction, and a life of ungratefulness. My lack of contentment about the things I own robs me of the joy of gratitude. Instead of my first thought being, “Lord, thank you for my home that keeps me warm and safe, for the food in my fridge that keeps me fed, and for the full closets that keep me clothed,” that thought goes straight to what I don’t have — what I feel like I am missing.
Here’s the truth. I mean the real truth. All my stuff, my three closets full of clothing, that dream kitchen with the huge island I long for, none of it matters the minute I take my last breath. When I die, I can’t take any of that with me. And that is not some sentiment I came up with. That truth is straight from Scripture.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, 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. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” — 1 Timothy 6:6–10
In a recent message on this very topic that inspired this post, David Marvin from The Porch says, “Discontentment is powerful. It can control your emotions and actions. You’re blind to everything else. All you can think about is the one thing that you don’t have. It consumes us — we become ruled by our wants.”
You know that piece of land Ahab literally killed to have? He didn’t take it with him when he died. Instead, he fell victim to what David Marvin stated above and what Paul warned of in 1 Timothy: destruction, a life of ruin filled with all kinds of evil. I’d even go as far as to say, in the case of Ahab, unnecessary evil. You and I may not be murdering someone because of our discontentment, but we sure are letting it rob us of the joy of gratitude.
If we want to live lives of gratitude, we must be content with what we have or don’t have. Discontentment robs us of us being thankful, and it also denies us a chance to find true satisfaction, which is found only in Jesus.
Paul puts it so beautifully in his letter to the Philippians,
“…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.” -Philippians 4:10–13
So, what can we do this week to start ridding ourselves of discontentment? How can we begin to turn our minds to a posture of gratitude and find joy in our relationship with Jesus in abundance or lack? Well, funny you should ask. My Life Group and I were recently challenged by this very subject. Here is what we came up with:
🤳 Fast from social media. Seriously, the biggest cause of our discontentment is all the stuff we see on social media. The lives we wish we had, the clothes we want, the home we dream of, etc. Take a day or longer to fast from it. Remove it from your phone, set app time limits [yes, you can do that]. Use that time to spend with God. Give it a try. Who knows, you might not even miss it afterward.
👖 Give stuff away. Clean out your garage, basement, your three closets filled with clothes. Take time and go through them, get rid of what you no longer use or need and donate them to a place that will give them to people in need [not just resell them].
💵 No Spend [the rest of] November. Look, I know Christmas is coming, and you have gifts to purchase. But see how you can be mindful of this. Don’t use Black Friday as an excuse to buy the things you want but don’t really need. If you are going to spend money, look at how you can be intentional with it — spending time with others or helping those in need.
We’ve got two weeks ‘til Thanksgiving and two weeks to become grateful. Let’s challenge ourselves to be content because we know God provides all our needs, and we can do all things through him.
Written by: Dr. Ravae Wilson
Published by Woodside Bible Church, www.woodsidebible.org