Contentment. It’s not a word too many of us use on a regular basis and it rarely enters our minds. We give little thought to our grumblings about life and never stop to think about what is at the root of them. Lou Priolo in his booklet Discontentment: Why Am I So Unhappy? argues that while the opposite of contentment is discontentment the root of it is covetousness.
Hebrews 13:5 states, “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Jesus himself warns against covetousness in Luke 12:15 when he says, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” The words of these passages warn us against the dangers of covetousness. They warn us against sinfully desiring to have more than we have been given. Our gracious heavenly Father knows what we need and He will supply it.
So, how would one know if he was covetous? Priolo offers a survey of 25 statements to help assess the extent to which one may struggle with discontentment and I will reproduce them for you below. I would encourage you to prayerfully answer each question and then give them to someone who knows you well and have them answer the questions in regards to you and see how the two compare.
Rating Scale Points
Never (hardly ever) 4
Always (almost always) 0
- I am prone to murmur and complain when things in my life do not go as I wish.
- I tend to worry and fret when I am faced with the loss of some temporal possession.
- I get distracted and have difficulty focusing on my God-given responsibilities when things do not go according to my expectations.
- I give in to discouragement rather than trust God when it seems that my hopes and desires are not going to be fulfilled.
- I am more motivated by how the things I want will please me than how they will glorify God.
- I am willing to sin in order to get what I want.
- I get angry or have some other sinful attitude if I do not get what I want.
- I spend most of my spare thought time every day thinking about material things rather than eternal things.
- I derive more pleasure from my thoughts about worldly plenty than I do from my thoughts of Christ, his Word, heaven, and spiritual things.
- I become more grieved over the loss or lack of my material possessions than I do over my sin.
- I talk more about being prosperous in the world than I do about being prosperous in God’s eyes.
- I console myself, when in trouble or distress, more with thoughts and desires of worldly provisions than with trust in God and hope of heaven.
- I am more grateful to God and man for a gift of temporal significance (money, jewelry, clothing) than for a gift of spiritual significance (biblical counsel, books, instruction).
- I am more concerned with providing for the physical well-being of my family than with their spiritual well-being.
- I invest a greater portion of my income in worldly pleasures or unnecessary creature comforts than I do in the kingdom of God.
- I become angry in undesirable circumstances that I cannot control.
- I become angry when someone in a position of authority asks me to do something that I don’t want to do and I can’t persuade that authority to change his or her mind.
- I become anxious when I think people are rejecting me, even though I know I’ve done nothing to offend them.
- I enjoy certain recreational/diversionary activities so much that I wonder whether I could really be happy if I had to live without them.
- I wish others would treat me with much more respect than they usually do.
- I get bored with my life and wish it were more interesting or exciting.
- I wish I could enjoy certain sinful activities without feeling guilty.
- I become irritable when people do things that cut into my free time.
- I wish I could live a life of ease with more pleasure than work.
- I think that I have missed God’s best for my life or that I will always be trapped in my present circumstances.
Once you have tallied your responses, Priolo offers the following explanation for your scores:
91-100 no problem with discontentment (however, honesty could be an issue)
81-90 mildly discontent
71-80 some areas of discontent that need attention
61-70 you may be a covetous person
Below 60 in danger of becoming an idolater
Priolo readily acknowledges that this survey is not scientific but the point is to help you get some idea of whether or not covetousness and discontentment are issues in your life. If it is revealed that they are, run to the cross and ask forgiveness from our gracious and merciful God. Ask him to grant you a greater desire for him than for anything in this world for he is truly your greatest treasure.
By His Grace Alone,