Recently Daron Earlewine, one of the pastors at the fellowship I attend (East 91st Street Christian Church), made the statement that the root of all sin is discontent and ingratitude. The more I considered that thought, the more I became convinced that he is right. How sad this is in our privileged and comfortable lifestyle in the Western world. You would think that we, more than any other people, would be ridiculously grateful for the country in which we were born and for the privileges afforded to us. Beyond that, as Christians it is hard to imagine not being eternally thankful for the sacrifice of God’s Son and for the opportunity to serve Him with every breath of our lives. Since we all still engage in sinful behavior, we are faced with the reality that despite all our blessings, we continue to live a life of discontent and ingratitude.
Why are we discontent? What is it that we wish we had that we perceive to be lacking? Most who read this blog are from countries that have at least a modicum of freedom; they aren’t destitute and in all probability are extremely well off compared to the majority of people on the planet. Yet we are discontent and want more; more money, more recognition and more stuff. We live as if everything revolved around us rather than around the one we call Lord of our life. Jesus is more than enough for any of us. He provides love beyond measure, rest when we are weary, and peace for our troubled hearts. If we place our trust in Him, faithfully serve Him and do what He commands us to do, He will reward us with eternal life spent with Him. What part of that equation is unappealing? What more could we want? Still, we trade eternal perfection for temporal imperfection every day, simply because we are too selfish and immature to defer our own selfish gratification. Herein lies our sin; we refuse to honor God by giving our lives to His service and living as Jesus did. We sin because we are infantile and refuse to grow, content to wallow in our selfish pursuit of fleeting pleasure.
Our discontent is easily, though inexplicably, identified; but what about our sense of ingratitude? Why do we who have so much for which to be thankful, languish in a life of bitterness and delusion? We are blessed beyond measure yet live as if we deserve everything we have, and in fact, deserve more. We take for granted those things that have been entrusted to us and find no joy in our journey. Instead of being thankful for the good things that come into our lives, we remain cynical and watch for the other shoe to drop. Rather than accepting a gracious compliment, we seek to uncover an ulterior motive. Cynicism steals our satisfaction and drains all comfort from our life. We become jaded to the beauty that surrounds us and fail to see the wonder of creation. Bitterness invades our relationships and soon we lose what we once loved most. A person who refuses to be thankful for what they have ends up broken and alone; this is not the life God intends for us to live.
As Christ-followers our goal is to eliminate the sin from our lives. It is a daunting task that we cannot even approach without the power of God. Knowing the root of sin should help us break it down a bit and determine strategies for dealing with our rebellion. Don’t be discontent with all the blessings in your life. Recognize all you have been given for your pleasure and to use for the glory of God. Don’t wish for more of what this world can offer; desire more of what Jesus can give. Be thankful for everything He has done for you, the beauty of His creation and the enormity of His love. If you practice thankfulness in your life you will find it nearly impossible to be discontent. Simply put, gratitude trumps discontent, and contentment eliminates ingratitude. At its root, our sin problem is an attitude issue. Practice being thankful and you will find your walk with Christ both satisfying and fulfilling. Jesus gives us everything we need to passionately pursue Him and further His mission. Always be mindful of what He has done for you and all He has entrusted to you. Watch out for the root of all sin; guard your attitude against discontentment and ingratitude.