We are all familiar with the feeling. The secret envy of the friend with the job you wish you had. The bitter jealousy of someone more well-dressed, prettier, or in better shape. The resentment harbored over a family member with a larger, more luxurious home. Sometimes it seems like everyone around you is getting what they want out of life besides you, and these harmful thought patterns are only compounded by social media.
Whether we like it or not, these feelings say a lot about the state of our hearts. Instead of longing for righteousness, love, and peace, we pine for possessions, beauty, opportunity, and wealth. And the problem is, even when we acquire these things, they do not satisfy. They only leave us empty and longing for more (Ecc. 5:10). So, how can we re-direct our attention to things of eternal value?
First, consider what you are choosing to focus on. Perhaps you read your Bible for fifteen minutes a day and spend two or three hours per day perusing social media or watching YouTube. As the old saying goes: garbage in, garbage out! Spending long periods of time on the internet day after day, innocuous as it may seem, shapes our desires in ways we are not even aware of. Beware that the ways of the devil are as subtle as ever—he wants to numb our hearts and minds to the dangers around us. Take stock of how you are using your time and what you are feeding your mind with; you may be surprised by your findings.
Second, choose to be content. One of the best ways to experience contentment is to practice gratitude. Rather than focusing on what you do not have, ponder the good gifts the Lord has already abundantly blessed you with. Just having a roof over your head and food in your pantry is something that not everyone can claim. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 offers a great reminder: “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.”
Finally, delight yourself in the Lord. Spend time with Him in the morning and in the evening. Commune with Him in prayer. Meditate on His precepts. He alone can satisfy every longing and desire of our hearts. He alone offers lasting contentment and joy. He alone is worthy of our worship!
Perhaps you are familiar with the old hymn, “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus.” The familiar chorus wisely states, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus / Look full in His wonderful face / And the things of earth will grow strangely dim/ In the light of His glory and grace.” It is so easy to get caught in the trap of continuous comparison, envy, and discontent. However, when we turn our eyes to the Lord, the things that matter come into sharper focus, and the things that do not will slowly fade away.