Not long ago, I heard ‘lust’ defined as wanting something else, someone else, or somewhere else. If that’s true, then I must confess to lusting quite a bit. I find my heart discontented with what I have and I’m not alone. Ingratitude and discontent are poisons that destroys the best of men and women. It has caused many marriages to fail. It has drowned families in debt. It has led us on a never-ending chase for satisfaction. The carrot is dangled in front of us, yet we never arrive at our destination… always wanting something else, someone else, or somewhere else.
I’m ready to break the pattern and to escape the vicious cycle. Aren’t you? Wisdom is learning from experience – especially the experience of others. 1 Cor. 10:6 states that the Old Testament is full of ‘examples to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.’ We have much to learn about being content with what God gives us and we will begin in Exodus 16 as God begins to provide manna in the desert…
God is good at what He does!
God could have made them anything to eat, yet He gave them what they asked for (v3 – bread to the full). He gave them what He knew would be best for them. His intention was to test them, to see if they would trust and obey Him or not. He gives us the same test of daily bread (Luke 11:3). He does not give us everything He will give us all at once, He wants us to keep coming back and growing in our dependence upon Him. A simple illustration: the government does not give out a persons welfare benefits to him in total when he is accepted into the program, they are meted out a little at a time, as needed. This creates a pattern of returning for more – a cycle of dependence. God is far more interested in us having full lives (spirits) than full bellies (Deuteronomy 8:2-3), so He uses a little hunger to teach us big lessons.
God is not happy when you’re not happy!*
Please notice the asterisk: this point is probably not heading where you think it is (I’m no Joel Osteen!). What I mean is that when you are not pleased with what God has given you, then God is not pleased with you. If God is good at what He does (and He is), then I must learn to be content with what I have been given (Phil. 4:11). When I complain about my level of blessings, I complain about the Blesser. When I am discontented with my wife or my job, I am revealing a deeper discontentment with God. When I am ungrateful for my life, my vehicle, my kids – then I am ungrateful to the One in control of all things!
Lust (as defined above) has a strange way of affecting a persons vision. It changes the way we look at things. We begin to under-value what we have, while at the same time over-valuing what we don’t. Lust has a potent, poisonous effect on our memories. Just like the Jews wished for some of the food from their former lives (Numbers 11:5-6) and conveniently forgot about the cruel slavery, we often forget about what it was like before we dwelt in God’s blessings of today. I will tell you this, lust never ends well! God destroyed more of His people for the sins of complaining and discontent than for all other sins combined!
God wants us to be happy with what makes Him happy!
There is no greater joy than to know that my children are living in the truth. What could be worse than for parents to watch their children self-destruct by believing the lies of the devil? The ‘need’ for bigger, better, faster, newer, more. This is one of the most difficult lessons to learn, isn’t it? But godliness (a spiritual desire for more) with contentment (an earthly desire for no more) is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6-8). We will never be fulfilled and satisfied looking for fulfillment and satisfaction. Never. We will only find true happiness and joy when we find it in God (Hebrews 13:5). I will close with a slight twist on the famous words of the Christian Hedonist (John Piper): “When we are most satisfied in Him, God is most glorified in us.”