“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” ~Denis Waitley
My Grandmother has gone to be with Jesus, but her memory is cherished by those she has left behind. The lessons that she taught us continue to live on.
One of the most important things she said, in my opinion, is the statement, “happiness is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.” (Rabbi Hyman Schachtel.)
So many people are discontent these days. We’re constantly striving for more, hungering for the latest and greatest, and trying, at all costs, to keep up with the Jones’. We covet what others have, we’re jealous when others find success, and we tend to believe that the grass is greener on the other side.
Grandma said, “happiness is not having what you want, it’s wanting what you have.”
Paul said,”…for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.” ~Philippians 4:12-13 (NKJV)
Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~Matthew 6:19-12 (NKJV)
My Grandmother was a woman of the Word. She didn’t just read it. She didn’t just preach it. She lived it. What an example she was, and continues to be!
Happiness is not having what you want. We’ve all experienced it; we wanted something with all of our heart. We waited patiently, sometimes impatiently, for that thing we just had to have. Once we had it for awhile, another desire quickly replaced the one that was just fulfilled. Suddenly, the old desire is forgotten and we have moved on to the next. Things don’t satisfy for long, do they?
Happiness is wanting what you have. How often do we complain about our possessions? We wish our house was bigger, our car was newer, and our grocery budget was unlimited. We wish we were taller, thinner, and younger. We wish we could change our spouses, make our children behave, and control those around us. We wish we had more time, more money, and better jobs. Do we stop to consider how blessed we are to have what we do? Rather than wish we had more, why don’t we thank God for the amount He has given us? Rather than wish we could change the people around us, why don’t we appreciate what we love about them?
For I have learned, whatever state I am in, to be content. Three things stand out to me here. The first is learned. Paul’s use of the word learned, tells me that this didn’t come naturally to him. We need to learn to be content. What are we doing to learn contentment, rather than feeding our discontent?
Secondly, he says whatever state I am in. This does not mean when I have reached all my goals, lived all my dreams, have a huge bank account, the beautiful house, and the perfect family. It means whatever state I am in. This doesn’t come naturally, either, but requires great effort. What are we doing to encourage this state of mind in our lives?
To be content. It seems like such a simple statement, but for some reason, we continue feeding the green monster. We have insatiable appetites for more. Yet, the truth of the matter is that we have all we really need in Christ. How often do we take the time to ponder that thought? When we do, it changes everything.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth. Jesus said it, so that seals the deal for me! Please don’t misunderstand me. I know plenty of wonderful, strong Christians who have many treasures on earth. There is nothing wrong with having stuff. The problem is when we worship the stuff rather than the One who provided it.
But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Jesus taught that we should be more concerned with giving to the poor than collecting possessions. He said that in doing that, we would provide purses for ourselves “that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail.” (See Luke 12:33) In Philippians 3:7-14, Paul tells us that anything he could gain in this world is nothing but rubbish compared to the riches we have in Christ. Again, there is nothing wrong with having things, but like Jesus said, it is an issue of the heart.
When I find myself in a state of discontentment, I hear my Grandmother’s words. When I catch myself grumbling about my circumstances, I remember what Paul said about being content and how my situation is really irrelevant because contentment is an issue of the heart. And then, I think of the cross. When I remember what my Savior endured for me, I am ashamed to realize that, in my discontent, I am telling Him that His sacrifice wasn’t enough.
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that we would remember that contentment is a condition of the heart, not a result of our circumstances. Help us to find joy not in the things that we own, but in knowing that we are owned by the King of Kings. When we feel that we don’t have the things that we think we need, help us to remember that Christ gave His very life so that we could have all that we need in Him. We have the privilege of being called the children of God. No possession or status could ever come close to the truth of what that means for us! Forgive us when we lose sight of the incredible gift we have been given in your Son. It is in His precious name that we pray. Amen.
One last thought on contentment….the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it. (Author unknown)Print This Post
Look at this beautiful wall decal with Grandma’s reminder that “Happiness Isn’t Having What You Want, It’s Wanting What You Have” Click here.
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What do you think? How have you learned to be content?